The theme for Friday is Forgotten Books, the weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, Pattinase. So don't forget to check in at Patti's to see what Forgotten (or Overlooked) Books other bloggers are talking about today.
My entry is SINGING IN THE SHROUDS by Ngaio Marsh, one of her many enjoyable Inspector Roderick Allyn mysteries and one of my faves simply because it takes place on board an ocean liner. Mystery aboard a boat. What could be better? Well, mystery on a train, maybe. Or mystery in the library - but I think you know what I mean.
Author of 32 mystery novels and considered a Grande Dame alongside her contemporary, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh was born in New Zealand and made her mark in the theater as a long-time producer/director, before turning to writing mysteries.
I've read every Allyn mystery (mostly in one grand extravaganza a couple of years ago) and recommend most of them very highly. If you'll check out my 101 Favorite Mysteries list (link on my left side bar) you'll find some of the Marsh titles I especially loved.
SINGING IN THE SHROUDS is not the best written of Marsh's books, but that doesn't stop it being one of the most eerie and fun to read on a foggy night when you're in the mood. The search is on for a serial killer on the high seas. (Yes, even Ngaio Marsh wrote a book about a serial killer way back then.) To add to the macabre quality of his foul deeds, this fellow likes to sprinkle flowers and sing a little ditty over his victims.
A body lies dead on the docks where the Cape Farewell, is set to sail at midnight. A clue clutched in a dead woman's hand leads Inspector Roderick Allyn to join the ship incognito as it sails for South Africa with nine passengers on board - one of whom is a killer. (Don't you love that sort of thing?)
Being a British mystery, of course everyone on board is an eccentric type of one variety or another - that's to be expected, in fact, that's what I love about these sorts of stories. I mean, it wouldn't be any fun if everyone involved were just boring and pedantic and normal.
No blood-letting or long-winded entries into the killer's thoughts to worry about here. This is, more or less, a cozy set on the high seas as Inspector Allyn must use every ounce of intelligence and detective expertise to catch a killer bound any moment to kill again.