I'm rocking back and forth between a long book (Apollo's Angels -- fascinating, but not exactly a quick read) and "filler" books that break up the lengthy tome. So there will be some mysteries, and maybe other things, before I finally get around to reviewing Apollo's Angels.
There's also a fair measure of laziness that's kept me from blogging more. But I decline to present an actual ratio.
26 August 2011
Scales of Justice is set in the small town (or village) of Swevenings. This is a very old village, its name dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period and its inhabitants long being recognized as being part of the "county set." There is no scandal and no intrigue in Swevenings, so it comes as some surprise when Colonel Cartarette is brutally murdered just a few feet away from the stream where he fishes.
Inspector Alleyn is on the scene, in part because he was requested by one of the residents (who also happens to be a good friend of his aristocratic mother). He sets to work dealing with the clues, many of them washed away by a rain storm the night of the murder, and also reading the character of the people who live there. They prove to be wily set. There is no one closer than the upper classes, particularly when it comes to protecting their own, and they'd rather conceal a crime than acknowledge it publicly. But everyone claims that "none of the Swevenings natives would do this," and it remains to be seen -- by Alleyn -- if this theory holds up. I'll let you guess.
As for the title, I think it's pretty absurd, especially since there are fish involved in helping to solve the murder. Then again, it might not have sounded so ridiculous when the story was printed (1955). In the era before reality shows and a plethora of bad puns, this might not have been quite as offensive. Fortunately, the title does no justice to the actual story, which is quite clever and overall very entertaining.
Year of publication: 1955
Number of pages: 248
But perhaps it's just me.
Overall, though, this isn't a terribly complex story, despite the rave reviews on the cover. It's actually quite simple: Alleyn is sent to Rome to find out more about a notorious drug lord whose activities are slapping up against England's shores. He poses as a tourist and joins an elite tour group that is led by a rather obviously sleazy fellow. It doesn't take long to figure out that every member of this tour group has some connection to said sleazy fellow, and it also doesn't take long for someone to end his sleazy activities for good. Like I said, I figured out the murderer rather quickly, so the red herrings all felt a little obvious and contrived.
There is, I'm happy to say, the semblance of a romance in here, so that makes things at least a little interesting. All in all, though, I can't say that I'd place this one at the top of my "to-read-Ngaio-Marsh" list. I had my doubts when I saw it in the bookstore, and it did little to improve upon acquaintance.
Year of publication: 1971
Number of pages: 213