Death at the Bar

Death at the Bar

I am a big fan of detective fiction (see my many blogs on crime fiction) and was recommended Ngaio Marsh by a crime writer. I started with Death at the Bar, number nine in the Inspector Alleyn series, and it didn’t disappoint.

For a start, it’s set in one of favourite locations, South Devon, in a fictional seaside village called Ottercombe, only accessed through a tunnel and so blissfully empty of tourists (helpful when you are narrowing a list of suspects). Three friends are meeting up for a holiday, but it soon goes wrong when one of them is killed in a game of pub darts, and it looks like murder.

The pub landlord goes hot-footing it up to London to garner the help of Inspector Alleyn, sick of the suspicion falling on him and his establishment, and determined to prove no other guests will be poisoned on his watch. Alleyn is happy to oblige with a visit to Devon and is soon on the scene questioning the list of suspects.

A heady mix of politics, law and love make things nicely murky and the red herrings come thick and fast. It reaches a delightful climax in the classic way of golden age detective fiction (albeit this one is written slightly later) — where how it happened, why, and whodunnit are all beautifully laid out at your feet.