Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ngaio Marsh’s novels embody many of the traditions of the British Golden Age of detective fiction. Most critics include her among the grand dames: Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham. She enjoyed a writing career second only to Christie’s in longevity and productivity. She is separated from her colleagues by her New Zealand background and loyalties, which give her a different, “outsider’s,” view of the England about which she writes. She transcends many of the familiar limitations of detective fiction as she creates an aristocratic professional police officer who solves crimes committed in theaters, drawing rooms, and the New Zealand wilderness. Marsh writes with a uniquely well-honed ear for dialogue and how it reveals character. Her genius lies in her synthesis of three great traditions: detective fiction, character study, and the novel of manners.