6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Sybil Foster is rich and lives in a beautiful house which a local millionaire covets. Sybil's daughter Prunella wants to marry Gideon Markos - the millionaire's son - but her mother wants her to marry a peer.
The aptly named Bruce Gardener has returned to the village to live with his widowed sister and offers his services as a gardener to the locals. Some are not too sure he is trustworthy, others welcome him as a Godsend. Sybil decides she needs a rest and goes off to stay in a hotel which offers nursing home facilities. In her absence her step-son, the shifty Claude Carter, arrives to stay.
When Sybil dies in what appears to be a suicide some do not believe her death is what it appears to be and the police are called in to investigate in the person of Roderick Alleyn. What follows is an interesting and very well plotted mystery with plenty of suspects and motives and many strands reaching back into the past. The end is tense and atmospheric and well written.
I enjoyed reading this mystery and even stayed up late and then woke up early the following morning in order to finish it because I had to know who the murderer was. There are just so many suspects with plausible motives and suspicious behaviour that it is only a very perceptive reader who will have worked out who the guilty person is.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Last Ditch is the twenty-ninth Roderick Alleyn mystery and was published in 1977. It is set in the Channel Islands, though they are not named in the book. Ngaio Marsh had been writing about Alleyn since 1934 and, although they don't seem to have aged much in many ways, their son Ricky is now 21. He has just finished an English degree and dreams of becoming a writer, so he retreats to the Channel Isles for peace and inspiration. He stays in a quiet, picturesque fishing village where nothing much happens - and finds a body in a ditch. Roderick Alleyn arrives to investigate drug crime and to look after Ricky, who is himself in danger... The plot advances intrigueingly and the end of the book is ingenious and difficult to guess.
As with all mystery novels which centre around one individual, the writer is forced to create a situation where her detective and his family are constantly falling over bodies. Of course, if this happened in real life they'd either have a nervous breakdown or end up being the chief suspect, since people die under suspicious circumstances wherever they go! One simply has to accept this somewhat ludicrous situation, whether the detective is Poirot, Campion or Alleyn. Marsh writes intelligent, literate novels with a sly sense of humour, good pace and vivid, convincing characters. She has a good sense of place and makes the setting come alive for the reader.
Ngaio Marsh seems to me to have struggled to accommodate the social changes of the sixties and seventies in her writings. She belonged in the more structured world of her youth, when life was slower and social distinctions were rigid. However, she was a theatrical and no prude and she did reflect social change in her writings. This is an enjoyable, entertaining story and there is lots of fun as well as tension and excitement,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2013
If you like period detective novels , this is fine for you. There are some good characters and there are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. Very enjoyable. I find Ngaio Marsh a not very deep, but nevertheless good read and entertaining.