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MONEY IN THE MORGUE

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The well regarded New Zealand writer, Ngaio Marsh died in 1982, leaving behind a partly written novel this one.

Stella Duffy has taken the manuscript and cleverly completed the narrative. This can’t have been easy, but the transition from one writer to another is completely seamless, so it appears simple. A question this reviewer would like answered is “did Marsh leave an outline of the solution, as well as some chapters?” You see, this is a work featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the detective created by Marshthe main character in over 30 books down the years.

Alleyn comes to New Zealand on a mission, but becomes embroiled in another crime far more baffling, which, being Inspector Allwyn, he solves.

He is “standing in the dregs of a tempest, contemplating a major robbery, the missing corpse of an elderly man, the found body of the most senior and long-serving staff member in the hospital, along with an impassable river and a useless telephone line”. Did Stella Duffy solve this cleverly by herself, or had Marsh left a conclusion to assist her? It doesn’t really matter because the solving of all these riddles is so unexpected and so satisfying that the whole yarn is worth reading.

It is slightly old-fashioned, no four-letter words for one good thing, but it is none the worse for that rather the opposite.

The tale lives up to its intriguing title.

MONEY IN THE MORGUE by NGAIO MARSH and STELLA DUFFY

PUBLISHED by HARPER COLLINS for a recommended $27.99