Saturday, May 14, 2011

Killer Dolphin: Review


Killer Dolphin by Ngaio Marsh is a mystery whose title hold a double meaning. The Dolphin refers in part to the Dolphin Theatre which has been recently restored and opens to the public with a brand new play by Peregrine Jay. It also refers to the odd murder weapon used to dispatch the nightwatchman at the theatre. One of a pair of statuettes given by the theatre's patron upon its opening--it is quite heavy and quite deadly. Murder occurs when a thief tries to make off with the recently discovered Shakespearean glove and letters which have inspired Peregrine's play The Glove. Someone realizes that there are unscrupulous collectors who will pay large sums without worrying too much about how the item was obtained. But who among the small cast of suspects had the opportunity? It is up to Inspector Roderick Alleyn to sort among the beatuiful femme fatale, the terribly vain leading man, the sharp-tongued supporting actor, the woman scorned, the actor with a penchant for puzzles (and figuring out combinations), the house manager, and the patron who prefers to remain in the background yet was in his box on the fateful night.

Although this mystery takes a while to get to the main action--there is no murder till about half-way through--the lead up is very interesting. It gives plenty of background on the theatre itself and several of the main characters and provides several small clues and possible red herrings for later. Alleyn and Inspector Fox work well off one another as usual. The only slightly tedious bit is sitting through all the interviews. A very nice, tidy, little mystery. Ngaio Marsh really enjoys the theatre and it shows. Four stars.

6 comments:

Yvette said...

I liked this book very much. Maybe just a little more than you did. I'm very fond of Ngaio Marsh's theater mysteries. As an aside, I love the name Peregrine Jay. I read all the Ngaio Marsh mysteries in one giant bunch last year. It was lots of fun. She is such a terrific writer and maybe not as well known as she should be.

Joanne said...

I've just started reading her first book A Man Lay Dead, also my first Ngaio Marsh book, also a first for the Vintage Mystery Challenge. I am way behind in my challenges! It's great to hear about Marsh's legacy of work and I agree with Yvette, from what I've been reading recently, she's not as well known as she should be.

Thanks for your review.

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

I have,to my shame, not read any Marsh yet. I had a friend in High School who read her incessantly and recommended her highly. Thanks for a great review! I must try to get her first novel soon and dive in.

Bev Hankins said...

@Yvette: Yes, Peregrine Jay is a really great name. I like Marsh's theatre mysteries too...I just prefer the stories where Alleyn shows up a little sooner.

Nikki-ann said...

I haven't heard of this before, but it sounds like a good read. It's unusual for a murder to show up later on in the book, I must admit.

J.G. said...

Oooh, lots of atmosphere. I like that kind of a mystery, where you're immersed in another world. Glad this "candle" was a bright one!