Sayers is my very favourite classic crime author. She’s justly famous for her Lord Peter Wimsey stories, but I also love the short stories the somewhat verbose Lord doesn’t feature in. Sayers wasn’t just a classic queen of crime. She also wrote religious plays and translated Dante’s Divine Comedy. I enjoyed listening to the Man Born to be King (the life of Jesus), even if, in truth, it does sound a little dated these days.
Ngaio Marsh strikes me as a happy compromise between Sayers who is, in my view, the better writer, but can be a bit self-consciously literary, and Agatha Christie with her rather two-dimensional characters. I especially love her theatre based stories like Opening night, Vintage Murder and Night at the Vulcan. Other favourites are When in Rome, Dead water and Off with his head. But I was a bit disappointed when I read her autobiography Blackbeech and Honeydew: theatre was clearly her true love, and she hardly mentions the Alleyn mysteries in the whole book! There was more about them in Her life in crime, a biography by Joanne Drayton.
My favourite Agatha Christies are N or M?, Man in the Brown Suit and Parker Pyne Investigates. I’m sorry she didn’t write more Parker Pyne books, I really like this character. Agatha Christie is often praised for her plots, but her characters are usually seen as lacking depth. That’s as may be, but the books are hugely enjoyable anyway.
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