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Final Curtain Troy Alleyn Inspector Roderick Alleyn's beautiful young wife is engaged to paint a portrait of Sir Henry Ancred famed Shakespearean actor and family patriarch but she senses all is not well in the dreary castle of Ancreton When old Henry is found dead after a suspicious dinner and an unfortunate family fracas Troy enlists the impeccable aid of her husband to determine who among a cast of players would have a motive for murder and the theatrical gift to carry it out

10 thoughts on “Final Curtain

  1. says:

    Published in 1947 this is the fourteenth novel in the Inspector Alleyn series The war is now over and Alleyn is expected home within a matter of two weeks or so His wife the artist Agatha Troy worries about their reunion and is at a loss about how to pass the time That is why although originally unwilling she accepts a commission to paint a portrait of the celebrated actor Sir Henry Ancred for his seventy fifth birthdayAt Sir Henry’s family home Troy meets his artistic and flamboyant family For those of you who dislike the often politically incorrect nature of Golden Age detective books you may wish to stay away from this particular Alleyn instalment Sir Henry’s grandson Cedric and expected heir is a particularly flamboyant and effeminate young man and many of the characters make derogatory remarks about him Although Cedric is expected to inherit not only the title but much of his grandfather’s wealth Sir Henry has recently installed a young chorus girl who is causing much fluttering and disuiet among the family – including his children daughters in law and grandchildren To add to the mix a school has been billeted at the house for the war and includes his badly behaved grand daughter nick named Panty who is seen as the obvious suspect when there are a number of practical jokes which take place during Troy’s visitThis mystery includes murder jealousy family arguments and a touching reunion between Troy and Alleyn After two wartime novels seeing Alleyn rooting out spies in New Zealand I was pleased to have a typical house party murder with a good cast of suspects and an interesting conclusion Despite the rather dated views regarding Cedric – who I had a lot of sympathy for – I thought this much enjoyable that the previous novel and look forward to reading on

  2. says:

    When a book is written in the 1940's it can be expected to have the prejudices of the day but this one had the trifecta of comments about Jews black people and a character who embodied all of the most offensive gay stereotypes All this stood out in sharp relief because the plot was not that interesting and all the characters were horrible The murder was not even convincing

  3. says:

    The reviewer notes on the cover said it was time to stop comparing Marsh to Agatha Christie and start comparing Christie to Marsh implying and elsewhere boldly stating that Marsh was the better writer I've read just about everything Christie put out and uite a bit of Marsh's oeuvre and while I like Marsh's work it doesn't seem to be any better than Christie's Yeah I used the word oeuvre in a sentence Jealous much?This particular work is pretty good but of course there are a couple things I don't like about it There are a number of instances of the writer playing the I think we all know what I'm talking about here game where I got completely lost I got the references to Cedric being a pouf and I realize that when this was written in 1947 Marsh would not have been able to come right out and say Cedric was gay but there are a number of other instances where I felt like everyone else was in on the joke and I was left out Marsh also spent a bit of time exploring the relationship between her detective Roderick Alleyn and his wife The crux of the issue here was whether after being separated for so long by the war the two would be able to pick up where they left off relationship wise or whether they would have lost any feeling for each other All very interesting and probably very vital to the post war readers of Marsh's books but really? In a mystery novel? It just seemed to muddy the watersAs I said overall an enjoyable example of the genre but definitely not worthy of the better than Christie hype

  4. says:

    14th Alleyn book from 1947 Lucky to have read another Felony Mayhem pristine paperback from my library I can only conclude few patrons have found the trove of Marsh books as each seem brand new to me ShhhIn the timeline of the married life of Agatha Troy painter and her Scotland Yard husband Roderick Alleyn this book begins at the juncture of Alleyn's anticipated return home after three years of service overseas under Special Branch directiveTroy accepts a commission to go to a country estate of a famous actor to paint his portrait on the occasion of his upcoming birthday after careful thought believing she will be able to accomplish this in enough time to be back home for her husband's returnShe will have than her job of painting to contend with as various pranks are launched two of which include defacing her painting as someone in this large estate has a deeper planone that leads to a death Troy does leave the country for London to welcome her husband and of course he is assigned to the murder investigationI really enjoyed this book

  5. says:

    Final Curtain 1947 by Ngaio Marsh finds Agatha Troy waiting for her husband's return from several years of war work in New Zealand and Australia Inspector Alleyn is due back any time and Troy worries that the long separation may have spoiled their young relationship When a reuest a near royal summons comes from the celebrated actor Sir Henry Ancred for her to paint his portrait in full actor's regalia as Macbeth she is at first annoyed at the distraction But when Sir Henry's son Thomas comes in person to plead the case she is intrigued by his description of the family and decides that the distraction may be just what she needs After all Sir Henry's head fairly begs to be paintedThe family lives up to both Thomas's description and the run down she received from Nigel Bathgate as she was leaving on the train for Ancreton Manor She witnesses the bitter family dynamics and the jockeying for position as Sir Henry is fairly fickle in his favorites The current front runners are Patrica Panty his granddaughter and Cedric his grandson But a spanner has been thrown into the works The old gentleman has taken up with a young chorus girl and it looks like he may be out to prove that the old man still has some life left in him The family's fears are realized when Sir Henry announces that he plans to marry Sonia Orrincourt Troy finishes the portrait just in time for a grand unveiling on Sir Henry's birthday But things go awry when the picture is found to have been vandalized with a flying green cow dropping bombs on Sir Henry's head There have been several practical jokes in the days leading up to the birthday and nearly everyone including Sir Henry assumes that Panty is the culprit After all she does have a history of such things But both her mother and Troy believe that she's telling the truth when she says she hasn't done any of the tricks played on her grandfather Someone is up to mischiefbut who wants the blame to fall on Panty?Then Sir Henry dies apparently from natural causes following his most ill advised over indulgence during the birthday meal He's safely buried and the family is weathering the shock of discovering that he had changed his will one final time leaving Cedric Ancreton Manor but nearly all his money to Sonia That's when things get interesting Alleyn finally arrives back home and during their reunion Troy tells him about her odd experiences at Ancreton Manor Then anonymous notes start arriving that imply that Sir Henry's death wasn't natural after all So Alleyn Fox and company start investigating Like Colour Scheme and a few of the other novels this is one where Alleyn shows up rather late in the proceedings However unlike Colour Scheme I don't actually mind it so much this time because get to spend uite a lot of time with Troy and we learn a great deal about her in the process In some ways she acts as Alleyn's stand inobserving the family's behavior and being able to give him a trusted first hand account of the goings on leading up to the murder She brings an artist's eye for detail and gives Alleyn and us valuable insights on the characters and incidents It provides a very uniue build up to the investigationI think in some ways Marsh has tried to give us another eccentric family like the Lampreys But here the dark undertones overshadow the pleasant oddities There is really something a bit distasteful about most of the Ancreds One thing that struck me about the story was the emphasis on how all the Ancreds were the same overly theatrical; they all made that tuh noise; etc all that is except Thomas Having made such a point of how Thomas was an exception to the Ancred rule I almost expected there to be a revelation that Thomas wasn't really an Ancred after alland that maybe that would figure into the motives somehow Ah well I guess it was a case of the author protesting too much This was another enjoyable entry in the Alleyn chronicles particularly since we see so much of Troy Marsh did fool me on the killerI had latched onto someone else and couldn't uite shake my belief in their guilt First posted on my blog My Reader's Block Please reuest permission before reposting Thanks

  6. says:

    It has been a long time since I read a Marsh mystery This one has wit and humor but is a little too twee It also has way too many characters introduced in a rapid fire info dump at the beginning of the book I found it impossible to keep them and their relationships straight If I had read this 40 years ago I probably would have liked it a lot but I’ve moved on from house party murders

  7. says:

    BBack to reality for Marsh in a post war setting and with an extremely traditional country house mystery consisting of a standard plot motive and method of murder More notable for the romanticism of Alleyn and Troy's reunion and that she gamely confronts the elements of the investigation as had not been the case in the past I especially love this unapologetically slushy passage describing their reunionWhen she had moved forward on the uay without at first seeing him his physical reaction had been so sharp that it had blotted out his thoughts It was only when she gave him the look of intimacy which so far had not been repeated that he knew without uestion he was to love her again

  8. says:

    Originally published on my blog here in August 1998The war is finally over and Alleyn is returning from New Zealand where the previous two books in the series Colour Scheme and Died In The Wool are set to join his wife in London Just as Troy is expecting him back any day she receives an extremely pressing invitation distinguished actor Sir Henry Ancred wishes to commission her to paint his portrait at his family seat Ancreton This invitation is occasioned by Sir Henry receiving the inaccurate news that the nation commissioned Troy to paint a portrait of one of his friends and rivalsTruth to tell though he may have been a magnificent actor Sir Henry's talent could never have matched his conceit As far as he was concerned the nation has never been as uick to recognise his status as great man of the stage as it should have been; even his knighthood is not a grateful acknowledgment of his stature but was obtained by the somewhat unexpected inheritance of a baronetcy from a distant cousinIn the end Troy accepts and travels to Ancreton where she is plunged into the midst of a bizarre family gathering; theatrical eccentricity is part and parcel of being an Ancred The family other than Sir Henry is united only in their dislike of Sonia Orrincourt a beautiful blonde plucked from the chorus by Sir Henry virtually in his dotage but likely to step into a second marriage at any moment particularly when his family enrage himA series of unpleasant practical jokes is followed by the death of Sir Henry; Troy suspects it is something serious than eating crayfish when suffering from a stomach disorder Luckily Alleyn has just now returned and he is able to disentangle the whole complex plotFinal Curtain is one of the better known Ngaio Marsh novels and it is the first I ever read by her It is not one of her best though; it shows distinct signs of a return to the formulaic house party crime novel she was writing before the two set in New Zealand It has an upper class family only rivalled in grotesue eccentricity by the Lampreys in A Surfeit Of Lampreys and the sort of implausible puzzle gently mocked by Michael Innes in There Came Both Mist And Snow As an example of the classic detection genre you could hardly chose a novel typical but Marsh can offer far better

  9. says:

    I read somewhere that Died in the Wool was Marsh's favorite in her Alleyn series and I liked it a lot but this one is even better It's not uite five stars to me since it ends a bit suddenly and it was not as personally satisfying a conclusion as I would have preferred But it was a lot of fun to readThis Alleyn installment has a group of vivid characters representing the steady growth in fiction writing that I am seeing as I work my way through the series The story does in a way remind me of A Surfeit of Lampreys though the Lamprey family was charming and delightful and the Ancreds here are far from that But each person in this isolated country house is uite individual and not like any previous Marsh characterAlleyn's wife Agatha Troy comes to life a lot here than in any previous book Even interesting the relationship between her and Rory develops a lot nuance and texture The issue of how much work one's brings home mentally is still a real one and interesting to exploreAs other readers have pointed out there are some unattractive ways this book is the product of its era I find it difficult to see how writers can be expected to write within the context of moral issues not explored in the time in which they live Yes there are references we fortunately never use such as the n word As an aside though the fact that we no longer use some offensive terms and stereotypes and this is a good thing we have hardly escaped the mindset which generates themI understand and to some extent share the discomfort others mention with the Cedric's portrayal However I actually sort of liked him and found his style of speaking fascinating and often funny Sure he appears to be an effeminate gay man but there are indeed people like Cedric and it's hard to conclude that a writer cannot include a character like this Yes it would be preferable to have a nuanced portrayal of gay life but in the oppressive world of the 1940's I would think aside from individuals like Cedric gay life was essentially invisible to outsidersAnyway this is a good mystery well written and well crafted I enjoyed it

  10. says:

    45 stars very entertaining classic country house murder it was good to have Inspector Alleyn back with Fox and Troy in England after wartime duty of three plus yearsAs the novel opens Troy has been asked to paint the portrait of legendary actor Sir Henry Ancred; Alleyn is due home anytime but Troy is deeply tempted to take on the commission She heads to the great actor’s country house and is soon pleasantly immersed in her work despite being surrounded by the dysfunctional overly dramatic Ancred family I loved this part Troy is a great character so calm and collected and her internal musings dealing with this emotional dramatic family was uite amusingMarsh gives us a wonderful cast of drama ueens with the Ancreds Sir Henry is also keeping company with a beautiful but clearly lower class actress who is in the parlance of the era “no better than she should be” Yes the old lion taken in by a beautiful young gold digger is a hackneyed device as old as the hills but Marsh plays it brilliantly pitting the scheming young woman against Sir Henry’s resentful grasping family uite Shakespearean really and fun Adding to the drama the old man constantly threatens to change his will; the inevitable happens the old man is found dead but was it his usual gastric trouble bringing on a heart attack after a too rich birthday celebration and a raging temper tantrum brought on by practical jokes poking fun at him? His ego of course is immense and he is enraged by being poked about his young lady friendTroy is present when the old man is found but she can’t help wondering if someone decided to put an end to Sir HenryWhen the family all receive letters suggesting Sir Henry was poisoned Alleyn steps in to investigate A very satisfying Golden Age mystery so glad Alleyn is back in England I look forward to continuing reading these books with the Reading the Detectives group

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