Monday, December 10, 2018

Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy

How many of you remember that Ngaio Marsh's Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn trained as a diplomat before joining Scotland Yard? If you do, it won't surprise you that he's working undercover in World War II in New Zealand. Money in the Morgue is an unfinished novel by Marsh, completed by Stella Duffy.

Alleyn is sent to Mount Seager Hospital in new Zealand where he is undercover watching for a spy. Shortly before his deadline for action, all hell breaks out at the hospital. Glossop, a payroll clerk, is stuck at the hospital with a flat tire and a storm coming. In New Zealand during the war, roads and bridges are dangerous in storms. Glossop has payroll for four sites, so the Matron locks it in her safe. But, she's distracted, dealing with an old man's death in the hospital.

By the time Glossop realizes the safe is open, the payroll is gone, and Matron is missing. It's Alleyn who finds her body, and discovers the old man's corpse is gone. The bridge is impassible, so Alleyn is forced to reveal himself so as to handle the murder and theft. Roderick Alleyn has to investigate, while dealing with lovestruck couples, missing money, AWOL soldiers, bodies, tunnels, murder, and, oh yes, that espionage case.

Stella Duffy, author of Mouths of Babes, was given a few chapters and notes that Ngaio Marsh left when she died. While the plot is supposed to resemble "A Midsummer Night's Dream", it's a plodding story with a slow start. Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn seems out of his element in this story.  I'd actually only suggest it for readers who were avid fans and want to read more mysteries featuring Alleyn.

Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy. Felony & Mayhem Press, 2018. ISBN 9781631941726 (paperback), 312p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

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