If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.











November Interview Schedule: 11/7 Lane Stone, 11/14 Maggie Toussaint, 11/21, Joana Garcia


Saturday Guest Bloggers: 11/3 Barbara Ross
WWK Satuday Bloggers: 11/10 Margaret S. Hamilton, 11/17 Kait Carson

Starting on Thanksgiving Day, 11/22, WWK presents original holiday offerings until New Year's Day. 11/22 Warren Bull, 11/29 Annette Dashofy, 12/6 KM Rockwood, 12/13 E. B. Davis, 12/20 Paula Gail Benson, & 12/27 Linda Rodriguez. We will resume our regular blogging schedule on 1/2/19. Please join us!


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:


Grace Topping signed a three-book contract with Henery Press for her Laura Bishop Home Staging series. Congratulations, Grace!

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, will be available February 26, 2019.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh – a review from a different perspective By Kait Carson


Inspired by Warren Bull’s reviews of classic mystery novels I picked up a copy of Ngaio Marsh’s A Man Lay Dead. The book, and the author were full of surprises. I had expected Ms. Marsh to be a Brit. I suppose she was, being born in New Zealand in 1900, but only because her birth preceded Dominion Day by a few years. Then it surprised me to find that she continued writing until her death in 1982. She was the last of the “Golden Era” mystery writers to publish contemporaneously. A testament to her long life and fertile imagination.

A Man Lay Dead is the first of Marsh’s long running Roderick Alleyn series. It’s also her first mystery novel, supposedly inspired by a rainy day in London and a desire to see if she could write a mystery. It would be overly kind to say she nailed it, but I did give the book five stars in my review. A review from a different perspective. Not a review of a book, which was flawed, as Marsh herself later admits, but a review of a genre. The cozy mystery.

Marsh, Christie, and others in the 1930s were giving birth to a new form of story. In the beginning there was the English country house. There were crimes taking place in these posh settings, perpetrated by well-heeled criminals. The suspect pool was limited, the motives, generally were, too, the means, available to all. The police, or in Marsh’s book, Scotland Yard, were called in, but they made use of the available amateurs to solve the crime.

The amateur sleuth became a viable crime fighter in the country house mystery largely because they knew where the bodies were buried. There were few significant secrets among the group despite the stiffness of the upper lips. The public enjoyed the glimpse of the high life. Britain was in the throes of the Great Slump. At the same time, readers weren’t averse to seeing a toff get his due. Society was in flux. Marsh pays deference to this by hinting that her Scotland Yard detective might be a social equal of the country house set. He knows how to work his crowd, but he still remembers to pull his forelock and let them be partners in the solution of the crime.

The book has the feel of a primer, or perhaps a rough sketch as Marsh was also a painter. The red herrings are broad and reflect the fears and prejudices of the time. The characterizations are not quite fully formed. Coincidence drives many of the clue discoveries and transitional scenes. The setting is well drawn and the reader has the feeling it is based on an actual location. Interestingly, there is an undercurrent of feminism. It’s only fair that I read the last of the series now. I want to discover how Marsh grew her characters and changed her stories over fifty years. Did poor Inspector Alleyn get to retire – or did the Yard let him dotter on into his eighties?

Readers – have you read this series, or any series that had a fifty-year life span? How did it hold your interest?

Writers – Could you keep characters and storylines fresh for fifty years?

6 comments:

Margaret Turkevich said...

Interesting take! I like to consider Kinsey Millhone's character arc over 25 books, or Adam Dalgliesh's 14 books, or Jimmy Perez's 7 books (with one more to come), or Deborah Crombie's 17 books in her James & Kincaid series.

Carla Damron said...

I loved Travis McGee and he had a long run! I do like to see how characters will mature and develop. And age. But 50 years???

Kait said...

Before I respond, let me apologize for the late responses. Computer problems. I bought a new one today, but it is with the Geek Squad getting geeked. After they do the updates, I will download my apps and then send it back for a data transfer - my current laptop - this one is behaving very badly - this is the first time I could convince it to let me on all day. So - without further ado....

Kait said...

Margaret - I have read all the authors you mention and it never occurred to me that they had written so many books in their series - well, the Kinsey Millhone, yes, since there was the alphabet involved, but the others, no. Clearly, when the author is engaged, the readers will be too! Thank you for the reminder.

Kait said...

Carla - I had the biggest crush on Travis - sometimes I think he's the reason I live in Florida. Fifty years! Don't think I could do it. I know of one author that in her early books had made the protag's age obvious and she aged him accordingly, but the series went on so long (it's a great series) and she was faced with aging the series but freezing her protag in topaz. Fortunately, her writing makes up for it, and readers who found her later probably aren't aware at all.

KM Rockwood said...

An extraordinary run for a series, not to mention for a character!

My favorite long-running series are the Brother Cadfael books (Ellis Peters.) I believe there are at least 20 in the series.