Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

 

Cozy Mystery

Clutch of Constables (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery) Clutch of ConstablesNgaio Marsh; St. Martin’s Dead Letter 1999WorldCatTroy Alleyn has just finished and opened a successful art show. Her husband is on a speaking tour in America. Her son is away at school. She has some time to relax but does not want to go back to an empty house. As she is walking around she sees a sign for a five day river cruise up the Thames into London. The idea appeals and she immediately books the available berth on the small ship leaving later that day.

What Troy does not know is that Foljambe, a notorious art forger and murderer, is also on the cruise. She realizes fairly quickly that something is not quite right. She does not understand what is bothering her yet knows there are undercurrents among the other passengers. While observing the English countrysides, she remarks on the clutch of Constables she sees. R.A. Constable was a famous painter of the English countryside and especially that area where they are traveling. There is a shocked silence as her shipmates look for police before realizing her reference.

She approaches the police at the first town of port. Their knowledge of Foljambe, or Jampot, is greater than hers. They believe the forger is probably one of the nine passengers. His disguises are complete. Yet without proof they cannot pick up any of the men on the ship. Troy unwittingly has stepped into an international conspiracy. Her husband is notified and immediately returns to England. By the time he meets her, it is too late. One of the passengers has been murdered. Now Inspector Alleyn has to care for his wife, prove Jampot is on the ship, and uncover the scheme between a number of passengers, and prevent any more murders.

Ms. Marsh has written a good book with twists and tangles to keep the reader guessing. One obvious clue is left out, but the reader is aware of that in the beginning. Foljambe has a physical oddity that is mentioned by Alleyne early in the book. If the reader knew what the oddity was, the reader would also know the villain. This way, all the passengers are still suspect.

This is another of her novels with a limited possible number of suspects, yet none appear to be the antagonist. The reader is tantalized, then finally rewarded. This will appeal to any mystery reader.

More books by Ngaio Marsh
Roderick Alleyn series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!

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