Among my collection of mystery novels by my most venerated mystery novel writers (Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Marsh’s titles are the ones that I am able to find every so often. I guess it’s because among the three, she is the most unheard of.
So once again, I’ve come over another Marsh novel: Hand in Glove. The story tells of a murder that happened while a social party was ongoing. The victim, Mr. Harold Cartell, a well-known barrister, fell into an excavation hole filled with muddy water; then, somebody let loose an 850-pound drainage pipe over his head. Of course, instant death was inevitable. But who wanted to kill him so badly …and brutally?
In comes Alleyn, the Sherlock Holmes of Marsh’s novels, to investigate: the whereabouts of the party’s attendants at the time of the murder, a notorious ex-con and his wasted girlfriend, a respected nobleman who forged his birth date and relation with a well-known family in the local civil registry, and the arrival of two condolence letters before and after the discovery of Mr. Cartell’s death!
Motive was an ineffective parameter for elimination of suspects, since almost everyone whom Mr. Cartell knew would certainly have had a reason to dispose him off. So it then boils down to the essentials: time, place, opportunity, and circumstance. Hand in Glove will have you guessing wrong until climax.