- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins - GB (28 July 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006512410
- ISBN-13: 978-0006512417
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
- Customer Reviews: 31 customer ratings
Final Curtain Paperback – 28 July 1999
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‘The finest writer in the English language of the pure, classical puzzle whodunit. Among the crime queens, Ngaio Marsh stands out as an Empress.’
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Top international reviews
Ms Marsh's novels interest me because she shows how serious crimes are rarely the result of impulse but have been brewing for years. They are the outcome of many small life-events, perceived slights and insults, however mistaken, that twist the perpetrator's view of themselves and their victim. What the killers have in common is their focus on self, in which the decision that the victim has no right to live comes to seem logical and justified. Ms Marsh comes back to 'Macbeth' at the end of her writing career' in 'Light Thickens', another compelling read that shows her deep-rooted pity for warped humanity and at the same time her faith in the regenerative powers of kindness and courage.
I would recommend 'Final Curtain' to anyone who likes a bizarre puzzle and a wide range of characters living in a damaged wartime society, where old values and patterns of power are challenged and money is still the root of all evil. The book is sometimes comic, sometimes pathetic, always true to its purpose, which is to show the terrible consequences of 'vaulting ambition.' The Scottish Play is here only a part of the theatrical history and fantasy of an actor whose 'life is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf.'
Troy endeavours to stay out of the arguments as she wants to get the portrait finished as soon as possible and get home in time to welcome her husband who has been away for over three years working for Special Branch. Sir Henry is found dead just before Troy leaves and she finds herself unwillingly mixed up in a murder enquiry that her husband is investigating.
This is a detective story in the classic mould and it will appeal to readers who enjoy Dorothy L Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, Patricia Wentworth and Agatha Christie. I found it an intriguing story with some interesting characters and it kept me guessing until almost the end. I liked the writing style and found that the scenes and characters came to life as I was reading. Very enjoyable and I shall be reading other books by this author.
Sir Henry Ancred, baronet, has been a famous a Shakespearean actor. At seventy-five he is still unbelievably handsome with a ducal head and beautiful gestures. His family persuades Agatha Troy to paint his portrait as Macbeth. Troy is not only a renowned portrait painter but also the wife of Scotland Yard’s star investigator Inspector Alleyn.
Alleyn has been on the other side of the world for over three years doing war work. His return to England and his wife is an engaging sub-theme in the novel.
The puzzle is puzzling indeed. The red herrings are seductive. The waters are muddied by the Difficult Child of the family who is constantly playing pranks. And Sir Henry’s tendency to change his will regularly in anger adds to the excitement.
Final Curtain was first published in 1947. Ngaio Marsh’s depiction of theatrical people is realistic and astute, no doubt reflecting her own experience as a young actress.
This book fits nicely into the series, which just keeps getting better as I read through it.
A World War 2 , novel. Alleyn is off on secret war related business so Agatha Troy lets herself be talked into going up North to paint a portrait of an elderly Shakespearian actor who was knighted for his acting. She arrives at a very uncomfortable family house party. There are so many people/suspects in this plot that I had to contruct a family tree. And as the title of this review states, Marsh completely stumped me on this one.