Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. If it did, none of us would read series fiction. “Noooo,” we’d whine. “Not another book about Inspector Alleyn!” When it comes to Ngaio Marsh – and in truth, one or two other writers we could mention – familiarity has tended mostly to breed delight.
And yet. There is something wonderful about watching a writer go for the unfamiliar, write short pieces instead of novels, true crime rather than fiction, fiction without the support of – well, in this case, without Inspector Alleyn. He’s here (and Troy is too); their devotees will not be disappointed. But this collection also offers a lot we haven’t seen before, gives us access to rooms in Dame Ngaio’s imagination that we hadn’t known existed.