Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh

 

Historical MysteryDeath in Ecstasy (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery) Death In EcstasyNgaio Marsh; St. Martin’s Paperbacks 1997WorldCatNigel Bathgate was in his apartment on a wet, Sunday evening. He decided to visit the House of the Sacred Flame, a church (?) across the street. After being refused admittance for being too late, he snuck into the service anyway. There he watches a strange religious ritual where a group of people passed around a wine goblet. The last person to have it, the Chosen Vessel, danced her ritual dance, then drained the cup. Then she passed out and dropped the cup. She wasn’t in a coma; she was dead.

Nigel and a doctor leave the audience to investigate. Both notice an odd smell. Nigel immediately calls Inspector Alleyn to come investigate. Scotland Yard is also notified.

The House of the Sacred Flame has a pantheistic type of worship. Father Garnette, the head of the church, has a hypnotic quality to his preaching. Those who were gathered close for the wine are part of the inner circle. Cara, the Chosen Vessel, had been part of that group. It is quickly learned that she was poisoned, probably with the wine. Which one of the worshipers did this?

The more Inspector Alleyn investigates, the more he discovers. This house of worship is into some illegal activities. It’s books, while correct, shows some odd ownership of the church. Father Garnette may be a murderer. If not, he is definitely a drug pusher.

This is a well crafted novel. Inspector Alleyn carefully picks through the clues. The clues to the murder are all there; I did not pick up on all of them. This is one of those timeless mysteries. While it was written in the 1930’s, it could have as easily been written today. As long as there are credulous people, there will be others out to make use of that credulousness.

This mystery is a great way to spend a couple evenings.

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

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