Sunday, July 26, 2015

Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

cover of Clutch of Constables
One of my favorite mystery authors is Ngaio Marsh. I've read all of her books, some more than once, and I've enjoyed all of them immensely. Although Christie's later books weren't as good as the earlier ones, all of Marsh's books were equally good. I decided that I wanted to re-read some of her books, so I went to the local library, and I found Clutch of Constables. This was one of the later books, written in 1968. Agatha Troy was older, with a son who was touring in Europe, and a husband, Roderick Alleyn, who was in America, tracking down the Jampot. The Jampot was a master criminal who dealt in art forgeries. However, it was not Roderick Alleyn who came into contact with the Jampot, it was Troy. She joined a river cruise that traveled through the countryside that John Constable commemorated in paintings. Troy felt that something was not right with the others on the cruise. Troy wrote to her husband expressing her concerns. When a possible Constable was found by a pair of the passengers in a junk yard, Alleyn hurried back, sure that the Jampot was within grasp and on that boat. Unfortunately, he didn't get back in time to prevent one of the other boat passengers from dying.

Marsh did a masterful job in plotting out this mystery. You can feel the tension build. I know that I started to suspect several of the passengers, and I wasn't sure if I was really onto the Jampot until the very end. Fortunately for me, even though I had read the book before, I couldn't remember the murderer. All of Marsh's mysteries have an erudite air about them, and there is always a lesson to be learned about art, literature, or classical theater. I am a fan of Roderick Alleyn and Agatha Troy, and it was very enjoyable to revisit them in Clutch of Constables.