I have read my seventh Ngaio Marsh mystery, 12th in Marsh’s bibliographical chronology.
First published in 1943, this October 1984 edition features Inspector Roderick Alleyn in a mediocre spa-slash-hot spring-slash-resort (Wai-ata-tapu Hot Springs) in war-infested New Zealand. He is submerged in an irritating but small number of “patriots” where speculation of an enemy agent is amongst them. At first, everything is tolerable: the Claire family’s (owners of the spa) imbecility, Mr. Maurice Questing’s taking-over the spa as owner and manager, Herbert Smith’s near brush with death, the unsatisfying treatment of Geoffrey Gaunt (a world-famous theater actor), the impending theft of a cultural heritage, a torpedoed ship of relief goods, and the arrival of a mysterious Septimus Falls. Then, a suspected nauseating murder surfaces.
Among my Marsh collection, I would regard this novel as a favorite, second only to Death in a White Tie. The reader would find the story moving from chapter to chapter, sub-chapter to sub-chapter. Information regarding the characters slowly reveal themselves, building a reader’s eagerness to read until the end. The cast of characters is limited, which provides an easy elimination process for the reader of suspected murderers. Towards the end, an assembly is organized, whereupon a satisfying denouement (a final part in which everything is made clear and no questions or surprises remain) is done to climax.
Colour Scheme is a good example of the classic murder mystery story that “mysteryphiles” would surely love.