JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

Even-day series yet again

This one 'cause I've been re-reading it as I collect the complete anthology books (replacing my incomplete scattering of raggedy secondhand paperbacks) ... on volume 7 of that with volume 8 awaiting (three more to acquire!)

My mother was/is an Agatha Christie addict ... she eventually acquired her own copies of every title (and was always royally pissed off when what appeared to be an obscure find would turn out to be an American edition that had been renamed). Me, I grew up reading everything in our house, from the Victorian novels that Mom had been given by an elderly neighbour when she was a child to my father's monthly issues of Hoard's Dairyman as soon as he'd put them down. But I never got into Christie. Her occasional standalones and short stories were okay, but when it came to the majority of titles I disliked both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot as "people" and there's no fun in reading a character who sets your teeth on edge and who you'd avoid like plague if they were real. Strangely, in televised form I DO like David Suchet's Poirot (he's written and performed as a much more likeable individual than the print version), but still haven't encountered a performed version of Marple that I can stomach (even though I love all the actresses who've played her when they're in other roles)

Fastforward the wheels of time a bit: in my twenties I came across Christie-contemporary Ngaio Marsh and her mysteries featuring Roderick Alleyn and was instantly addicted ... these were everything to me that Christie was to Mom. The tale is that Marsh, on her first trip to England, read a Christie, thought "I can do better than that!" and proceeded to write the first Alleyn novel. (this is Marsh's own often-told story ... whether or not it's true, I think she did). Alleyn is a working cop, born into a titled family and originally destined for "the diplomatic" along with his older brother, but went his own way into a career that let him use his intelligence. And, like the best of fictional characters, he evolves throughout the series, both professionally and personally ... gaining promotions in one and courting and marrying and becoming a father in the other. His working partnership/friendship with Inspector Fox (who he affectionately addresses as Brer Fox when the suspects aren't in earshot) and their banter is great fun (as is Alleyn's mock jealousy of Fox's ability to walk into the servants' domain of any household and have all the staff confiding in him within minutes, right after being less than forthcoming in the presence of Alleyn's posher accent), and the rest of his mobile investigative team (consisting of forensic photographer, fingerprint specialist, and pathologist). On the domestic side, Alleyn and Agatha Troy (at home he's Rory) have a similar bantering relationship ... they are buddies as much as they are spouses and lovers and, eventually, parents.

From "Singing in the Shrouds" (my current reading):
A number of psychiatric authorities had been consulted and all agreed that the ten-day interval would probably be maintained and that the fourteenth February, therefore, might be anticipated as a deadline. One of them added, however, that the subject's homicidal urge might be exacerbated by an untoward event. Which meant, Inspector Fox supposed drily, that he might cut up for trouble before the fourteenth: if a bit of what he fancied turned up in the meantime and did the trick.
Fox concluded the conversation by inquiring about the weather and on being told it was semi-tropical remarked that some people had all the luck. Alleyn had rejoined that if Fox considered a long voyage with a homicidal maniac (identity unknown and boiling up for trouble) and at least two eminently suitable victims, was a bit of luck, he'd be glad to swap jobs with him. On this note they rang off.
Alleyn had also received a cable from his wife which said: "Lodging petition for desertion do you want anything sent anywhere love darling Troy."

The Alleyn mysteries, in order, are:
A Man Lay Dead
Enter a Murderer
The Nursing Home Murder
Death in Ecstasy
Vintage Murder
Artists in Crime
Death in a White Tie
Overture to Death
Death at the Bar
Surfeit of Lampreys
Death and the Dancing Footman
Colour Scheme
Died in the Wool
Final Curtain
Swing, Brother, Swing
Opening Night
Spinsters in Jeopardy
Scales of Justice
Off With His Head
Singing in the Shrouds
False Scent
Hand in Glove
Dead Water
Death at the Dolphin
Clutch of Constables
When in Rome
Tied up in Tinsel
Black As He's Painted
Last Ditch
Grave Mistake
Photo Finish
Light Thickens

The Alleyn anthologies which I'm currently collecting contain the entire series in order, three novels plus one short story or essay per volume.
Tags: bookseries: alleyn, reading

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