Ahhh, prussic acid, that hallmark of classic Golden Age mysteries. Did lovely Cara Quoyne get a whiff of the bitter almonds as she raised the goblet to her lips? We’ll never know: With a single sip she transported herself to the Hereafter.
At least, that’s the romantic view. But Inspector Alleyn has little interest in romance; he’s investigating a murder. Cara was a deeply spiritual young woman, a novice with the House of the Sacred Flame. It seems, however, that somebody was operating from very un-spiritual motivations.
About the Author
Ngaio Marsh was born and educated in New Zealand. Along with Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy L. Sayers, she was classed as one of the four original "Queens of Crime"—female crime writers who dominated the crime fiction genre in the 1920s and 1930s.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nigel Bathgate, journalist and friend of DCI Alleyn of Scotland Yard, happens to look out of the window of his flat one wet and windy evening and sees several people entering a doorway underneath a swinging sign of a sacred flame. Bored, he decides to go and see what it's all about and maybe find material for a story for his newspaper. He manages to talk his way into the ceremony and finds it's a mixture of many religions and he witnesses a group of initiates passing round a goblet until the final person in the circle collapses dead after drinking from the cup. Nigel sends for DCI Alleyn. The following investigation provides plenty of suspects and clues as well as a fair few red herrings. The book is well written and the plot complex. As ever the characters are well drawn and memorable and even the minor ones stick in your mind. The charismatic Father Garnette is a masterpiece as his House of the Sacred Flame and its flock. Ngaio Marsh was one of the masters of the Golden Age of British detective fiction and if you like your crime novels to keep you guessing almost until the last page then give this one a try. Altogether a literary treat. Thank you.