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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh is incredible. I can't quite put my finger on why I can't stop reading her writing, or how she sucks me in so hard. But she does.

When I told Dad how hard I found to stop reading, he nodded and said it was her pacing. It's excellent. Even her subchapters -- sometimes only a page long -- don't let me stop reading.

I really get impatient near the end, because that's when she very deftly muddles you. I have never read anyone who glued me to the page like this. I think I know who did it, but--!

I'm also curious, if you have read Ngaio Marsh, whether you notice that she sometimes shifts POV very briefly and without warning. Like Elizabeth Bear, it works.

It oughtn't. But she's so good that I notice it, and merely continue on.

Here's a bit from her:

The coroner summed up at considerable length and with commendable simplicity. His manner suggested that the jury as a whole was certifiable as mentally unsound, but that he knew his duty and would perform it in the teeth of stupidity.

I crack up every time I get partway through this. I can't say that Ngaio does this all the time -- if so, I haven't noticed. But when I read the previous page, it's even funnier. That'd spoil the scene, so I can't post that. :D You'd dislike me intensely.

I began with her final novel, Light Thickens. I've read five more within a week's time. I'll be sorry when I've got through all thirty-two... except that wow, what incredible writing.

The quote is from Death at the Bar.

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