Ngaio Marsh wrote 32 detective novels featuring British police inspector Roderick Alleyn. Published between 1934 and 1982, most of the novels are set in England, where Marsh lived on and off during her writing career, but four are set in her native New Zealand.
Death at the Bar, first published in 1940, is the ninth book in the series. Inspector Alleyn gets called to an isolated village on the rocky coast of Devon to help the local police solve the riddle of a mysterious death in the local pub. A famous London lawyer died after a dart pricked his hand during a showy bar bet.
As it turns out, plenty of people living or visiting the village wouldn't have minded seeing the lawyer dead. The plot circles around through a long list of possible suspects, including the dead man's traveling companions, an ignored lover, and a hot-headed socialist agitator.
The puzzle is clever and Marsh's writing is intelligent and lively. Marsh deserves her title as one of the Queens of Crime.
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This is the first of Marsh's books that I have read, so I can't compare it to any of her others. It was one of my Golden Age Girls choices for the Vintage Mystery Challenge, hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block. The trouble with this challenge is that it leads to me starting even more book lists! Now I plan to find and read all of Marsh's novels. Good grief!