Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Note: Light Thickens

Marsh, Ngaio. Light Thickens. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

An alert reader reminded me that the characters and setting of Ngaio Marsh's Death at the Dolphin (for which, q.v.) reappeared in a novel set some twenty years later and written some fifteen years later. Indeed, Light Thickens was the last Roderick Alleyn novel Marsh wrote.

In the novel, Peregrine Jay is directing a production of Macbeth at his theatre, The Dolphin. Roderick Alleyn happens to show up for its opening night—and (which is an even greater coincidence) for the night during which a murder takes place.

The novel is good in giving us the characters we enjoy—and, for this reader at least, intriguing interpretations of Shakespeare—but it is not as powerful as Death at the Dolphin by a long shot. The murder's motivations are obscure at best and contrived at worst, and that was somewhat disappointing.

Nonetheless, it's a good read—and the Macbeth they put on is described by one critic as "the best since Olivier."  Yes, the critic is fictional, but it is still a thrilling review.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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