Reviews

Artists in Crime, by Ngaio Marsh

carolsnotebook's review against another edition

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4.0

Marsh does a wonderful job, as always, of giving motives to each of her rather quirky suspects, and parceling out the clues but in a way that they are easily missed, allowing her to lead us down the wrong path right until the twist at the end. For me though, the highlight here was the interactions between Troy and Alleyn, the tension, the misunderstandings, and Alleyn's trying to keep his feelings seperate from the case. Troy is, after all, a suspect. The blooming romance is a good edition, it doesn't take over the story, just complicates things a little, at least for Alleyn.

The book was first published in 1938 and it feels like that, but I enjoy vintage mysteries. I like the style, the era, the phrases.

I think this may be one of my favorite of Marsh's books.

gazeboreader's review against another edition

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4.0

Fun mystery. Benedict Cumberbatch was an excellent reader.

astrangerhere's review against another edition

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4.0

Marsh is really hitting her stride. And the more I read of Alleyn, the more I see Detective Inspector Adam Dalgliesh.

nichola's review against another edition

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4.0

Man got his heartbroken
Poor Alleyn. It felt for this poor dude.

Does that count as a spoiler. I think I liked this because I really believed the had a shot and I was picturing future books with her and it all ended in disaster.

About the crime? It was... brutal. But very satisfying.

scorpionturtle's review against another edition

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4.0

I've read 5 Roderick Alleyn mysteries including the first one and ones from 60's. Artist in Crime benefits from established characters like Sergeant Fox and Nigel Bathgate and interesting new characters that would re-occur such as Agatha Troy and Alleyn's mother. The negatives of the book are the ones I have with all of Marsh's books, there is a lot of conversations and little action. This one picked up in the final third but before that it is very formulaic isolated murder at an estate. It also suffers from her ideas about class and the gentry but benefits from her knowledge of the art and theater world. Marsh wasn't British and wasn't of the gentry and the difference when she writes about the theater and art worlds that she was very much a part is notable. I appreciated the world building and the character development but still found the pacing to be so slow and it to be more "tell than show".

I figured out one murderer half way through. SPOILER: although I thought the second murderer was responsible for both murders and I think the reason they gave makes less sense than mine. I thought she had planned both murders and that she wasn't just covering up blackmail but that she was pregnant with Garcia's kid. The whole comments about how she wasn't the type to get seduced by a guy, her not wanting to drink and her suddenly wanting to get married all pointed to how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy in the time of illegal and hard to find abortions. Garcia turning out to actually be the person that planned Sonia's murder was disappointing as it seemed like he was just a massive red herring and made him little more than a stock figure.

smessmores's review against another edition

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4.0

I can now definitely see why Marsh has been compared to Christie so often. Their styles are quite similar, and Marsh is truly an excellent mystery writer! I really enjoyed reading this, and I can see I'm going to have to work hard to find the types of clues that give her murderers away. When the murderer was initially revealed I was disappointed, thinking it had come out of the blue, but when Alleyn did the denouement all the pieces were there - I just hadn't paid close enough attention. I do wish there had been a bit more bouncing around with suspects - there was SO much evidence about Garcia that I was expecting them to find him dead from pretty early on, but she didn't give me much evidence to try and divert the reader from him as suspect. Which I think is a loss on her part.

clockless's review

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5.0

Excellent mystery, solvable (maybe too easy?), well-put-together, and surprisingly detailed on the forensic aspect.

rosepetals1984's review against another edition

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3.0

Dame Ngaio Marsh certainly crafted a rich and appealing mystery (circa 1938) within "Artists in Crime". The story finds the lead detective, Roderick Alleyn, investigating the case of a murdered nude model, Sonia Gluck. The list of suspects revolves around eight individuals within an art school, including the owner - Agatha Troy, to whom Alleyn has developed a keen relationship with. All of them have their respective dislike of Miss Gluck, but the larger question is who perpetuated the method of her murder and why. One thing's for sure: things in this particular case aren't always what they seem - accident or not.

I have to say that once the pieces fall into place, it's obvious who did the dirty deed and why, but without spoiling this whodunit, the way that Marsh weaves the information and accounts of each character, you almost doubt the guesses you make about each individual until the next to last chapter, and considering there's more than one murder to be had in this story, it makes the case that much more appealing among this cast of colorful characters. Her descriptions, characterization, and prose are all quite immersive and sometimes charming (particularly with the underlying humor), though it's hard to say how many people would take this mystery because it's rooted in its time. I'd also argue that when you first read this book - the amount of information you're given with respect to the eight art students may throw the reader because it seems like a lot of characters to keep up with. However, once the individual interviews start, and the characters start speaking, then they become much more clear cut.

The ending/epilogue ties together the mystery threads one by one, and Alleyn is an apt and charming character to follow throughout this book, and I liked the ending well enough for it to end on the note it did, while it does leave a few plot threads dangling for speculation. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the read for what it was - a good mystery with interesting characters. I will say that it shows some measure of age in the language/referals, but I wouldn't say that's a detraction for someone who wants to read into a decent mystery with a likable detective to lead it.

Overall score: 3/5

beckyene's review against another edition

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2.0

Two and a half stars. The beginning is nice and interesting but it gets somehow dull along the way.

jlmb's review against another edition

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3.0

I'm pretty sure I read this prior to 1994, when I started keeping tracks of books I read, but I figured what the heck, I'll read it again because I don't think I will recall the killer. Well, it turns out I did recall once I started reading. Oh well, it was an enjoyable light read. I love Golden Era British mysteries. I'm working on reading the complete works of all the major writers of that period that I love. Setting my sights low haha. Only like a bazillion books to go before I reach my goal!