Hand in Glove by Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh's Chief Inspector (later Superintendent) Roderick Alleyn, of Scotland Yard, series was typically set in the world of the arts, particularly the theater or painters.

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Hand in Glove by Ngaio Marsh


  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.71 x 6.77 x 4.20
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; (April 1999)
  • ISBN: 0312969082

    Reader Reviews
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: _Dead in a Ditch_ would be more apt, February 26, 2003 Reviewer: M. L. Worley from Kingdom of the Mouse, United States This isn't the case featuring Peregrine Jay's play _The Glove_; _Death at the Dolphin_ is the case featuring Hamnet Shakespeare's cheveral glove,"worn but once". The third-person viewpoint of _Hand in Glove_ is split between Alleyn himself and a supporting character - in this case, Nicola Maitland-Mayne, a young family friend of the Alleyns. Nicola plays down her double-barrelled name, but her new employer not only emphasizes it but says he hired her because he knew her family. Pyke Period's snobbery is of a harmless variety, and doesn't interfere with his basic decency and friendliness. He's a confirmed bachelor with an arch manner, whose ruling passion is the manner - or manor - born: the formal trappings of the upper classes, from architecture to family portraits to etiquette - most especially etiquette. He's famous for his letters of condolence, and has hired Nicola to help him assemble his notes on etiquette for a publisher. (He'd *love* to have Troy Alleyn paint his portrait for the cover of the book, incidentally, but doesn't dare ask, given her notorious choosiness over human subjects). Unfortunately, the new book isn't the only change in Period's life lately. Since retiring from his law practice a few weeks ago, Henry Cartell has been sharing Period's house, but it isn't working out. Period (and his staff, Mrs. Mitchell and Alfred) like a very settled routine, and Cartell gets on their nerves. He often invites his irritating sister Connie and her disreputable hangers-on to stay, with little warning. His mutt Pixie smashes up vicarage garden parties. At least he's on good terms with his ex-wife, neighbour Lady Bantling - or rather, he was until they disagreed over her son's trust fund. On that point, Period agrees as co-trustee that Andrew should *not* quit the army to invest in an art gallery and pursue a painting career. On the night the story opens, Pixie moves upscale, causing a dogfight during Lady Bantling's treasure-hunt party. Lucky, in a way, that Pixie bit the hostess' current husband, since the doctor's visit marks one of the few fixed points in the timetable of Cartell's murder. The first treasure-hunt clue led to a ditch being dug along Period's property. At some point while Cartell was taking Pixie for her nightly walk, he fell in, but it was no accident that someone's gloved hands rolled the sewer pipe onto him, leaving him to smother in the mud. The horrible manner of his death is the only device used to persuade us to care whether it's avenged; he's a mildly objectionable stage prop rather than a fleshed out character. The most interesting point about his death happens afterwards: why did Connie Cartell receive *two* of Period's famous letters of condolence on the same day? The murder brings Alleyn in about halfway through, with the usual division of labour wherein Fox handles the bread-and-butter questioning, while Alleyn dazzles the upper crust. I regret to say that Alleyn not only meddles with the forensic work of his flash and dab minions Bailey and Thompson - he rarely lets forensics people do their jobs in peace, after all - but that Alleyn has regressed temporarily to the shallow flippancy of earlier cases. As it happens, the police already know some of the suspects. Cartell's unmarried sister Connie has taken trashy 'Moppett' Ralston under her wing, complete with Moppett's boyfriend, Leonard Leiss. Lady Bantling actually gets nostalgic about how much Leiss reminds her of the top-grade gigolos of her youth - Bimbo Dodds, her current, third husband, is younger than she, but not *that* young. He himself is mixed up with a nightclub with a bad reputation. Andrew - he of the artistic aspirations - is one of the more wholesome visitors to the area; he and Nicola don't even try to follow Dodd's little trail of clues on the night of the hunt, but get acquainted with each other. While this book is OK, I wouldn't go out of my way to read it; it fails to inspire either desire for justice - Cartell doesn't make much impression as a person - or even fear of injustice, since Alleyn doesn't commit himself to a suspect until the endgame. Lacking those elements - the mainstays of good mystery fiction - the story isn't especially interesting, and I prefer a good mystery *novel* over a clever puzzle any day. Neither the romance nor Lady Bantling's wild parties get enough play to compensate. Period and Lady Bantling provide some mild interest and entertainment, though.

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