When in Rome: Inspector Roderick Alleyn #26 (Inspectr Roderick Alleyn)
In 1968 Ngaio Marsh took her own Roman holiday (in part to research Italian police procedures) and the change seems to have done her good: Both her British and U.S. agents believed When in Rome to be the finest novel in her "Inspector Alleyn" series. As is so often (and so satisfyingly) the case, the tale concerns a murder within a closed group—in this case, a group of tourists visiting what Marsh calls the "Basilica di San Tommaso," who find themselves fumbling into a complex web of blackmail and drug-smuggling. Adding some irresistible color are depictions of both La Dolce Vita (of which Marsh took a jaundiced view) and the student radicals of the day, whom she seems to have found somewhat more persuasive. All in all, a brilliant example of classic Golden Age plotting melded with a decidedly Space Age cast.
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