Monday, June 26, 2017

Death on the Air and Other Stories by Ngaio Marsh

Finally read this! Chose it because it was the only non-audiobook Book from Ngaio Marsh that the NLB had.

I skipped over the introduction (stopped when they mentioned she writes better than Agatha Christie because I do not need to have inflated expectations) and dove straight into the stories.

The first two 'stories' are Ngaio Marsh discussing two of her recurring characters - Alleyn and Troy. It was interesting but I don't know them so I wasn't emotionally engaged.

And then it was time for the short stories. On the whole, I enjoyed them, although the shorter short stories were a bit confusing. Perhaps it's because of the constraints of length (or lack of), but with the short stories, I had trouble understanding how a deduction was reached. A lot of the time, it felt like a hunch or a natural series of events rather than a deduction. But they were still enjoyable.

Two stories that I particularly liked were:

Chapter and Verse: concerning an old family Bible that hints at murders having been committed. The only problem is that the victims never existed!

The Cupid Mirror: great twist at the end, won't say anymore so I won't spoil it.

The last story is a screenplay which was actually more exciting than I thought. I'm not very fond of screenplays, but this one held my attention. It's about the trial of the murder of the dog and both the plaintiff and the defendant are unpleasant characters and the case was very ambiguous, which made for a head-scratcher.

The last entry is her advice to a young person who wants to be a writer. The parts concerning publishing companies are out of date, but the rest of the letter was really good (especially her reply to the offer to write a book together).

On the whole, I don't think that starting with a collection of short stories was a good idea, but I enjoyed the book and I definitely would read a full-length novel starring Alleyn if I had the chance.


  1. This sounds interesting, Eustacia. I will take your advice though and start with a full-length novel before trying this collection, I think.

    1. I think there's an audiobook of one of her novels from the library, so I may just try that (I'm not very good with audiobooks, but I like podcasts so it might work)


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