2007: 182. Death of a Fool

“Over that part of England the winter solstice came down with a bitter antiphony of snow and frost.”

Death of a Fool, Ngaio Marsh

This mystery is set in a remote English village during the centuries old fertility ritual/Morris dance that is still practiced every spring.  During the dance the patriarch of a local clan is murdered and its up to Alleyn to figure out how it could have been done, given that the entire town was watching the pagentry.  The murder is most definitely secondary here to the characters, and the atmosphere, from the crazy fertility dance, to inbred (but still formidable) remnants of the gentry, to the victim and his five matching sons, who run the local blacksmith shop.  Plus you have a German lady obsesses with folklore who pushes herself in where she is most certainly not wanted (the town has a horror of their ceremony becoming public spectacle), a young lady caught between her townie (for lack of a better word) half (from her mother, daughter of the victim) and her posh half (from her dad), which is only complicated by her love for the local gentleman (not inbred, thank god, but for a moment I thought he might be the murderer and was oh! so! nervous!!).  Such fun characters, and the mystery works too.  Fun stuff.


Recommended for: People interested in folklore, and mysteries and class consciousness in Britain in the 1950’s


Date/Place Completed: 12/4/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Re-read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017