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


June Interviews













6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer


Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron


WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now

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Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!


Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.


Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

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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 S. Hamilton 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 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.