Death at the Dolphin

Death at the Dolphin - Ngaio Marsh [These notes were made in 1985:]. Marsh puts her obsession with the theatre to good use in this one, for she can squeeze more oddball characters into a square inch than usual when her 'closed circle' is of theatre people. Once again the puzzle is splendidly complicated - a glove which may have been given by Shakespeare to his son is put on display at a theatre. Glove and theatre are both owned by an eccentric reclusive millionaire, who sets the place up for Jay Peregrine, the director, after Peregrine has a most unpleasant accident, nearly drowning in a flooded part of the old theatre. The glove is stolen and a night watchman killed; a boy in the company is beaten up in the same incident. The actors in the cast are describing love triangles all over the place; Jay's room-mate, Jeremy, is a designer who covets the glove; motives abound, and we heave a monstrous great sigh of relief when Rory Alleyn arrives on the scene to sort things out. Once again, I found I could pick the murderer not on intellectual but on psychological grounds: that is, in deference to our sensibilities, Marsh never makes her murderer as personally sympathetic as the other characters on whom at various times she throws fake suspicion.