PHOTO FINISH by Ngaio Marsh
Kirkus Star


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Some of Dame Ngaio's recent mysteries seemed to be making a stab at keeping up with the times, but not this one: it's a grand old frolic in Marsh's earliest vein, gently bubbling with theatrical types, glittery milieus, and twinkling amusement. Roderick Alleyn (still gorgeous, of course) and artist wife Troy (still the nth degree in taste and talent) are both invited to the New Zealand paradise-island estate of tycoon Montague Reece and his platonic mistress, legendary opera star Isabella Sommita. Troy is supposed to paint ""La Sommita""; Alleyn is supposed to protect her from a nuisance photographer (like the one who badgered Jackie O.). But once there, it's murder, naturally: on the night of the private premiere of an awful opera by Isabella's miserable young live-in lover, the star is found with a knife through both her heart and the latest photo by that elusive photographer! Alleyn has no jurisdiction, of course, but a storm has cut the island off from all authorities, so sleuth he must--researching a longtime blood-feud involving Isabella's family, questioning the frenetic supporting cast (including one of Marsh's old-fashioned, whispered-about homosexuals), and hiding in a closet to catch one of the culprits doing something incriminating with a key. The puzzle's only so-so, perhaps, but the effortless social comedy reeks with charm, and the unforced pacing is a marvel. Marsh in rare old form--quite a treat.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1980
Publisher: Little, Brown