A delicious and classic country-house mystery. Well, country-castle. The lord of the manor is Sir Henry Ancred, a celebrated Shakespearian actor (and pompous bore), who has arranged to have his portrait painted by none other than Agatha Troy–wife of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. She’s rather glad to be stepping out of Alleyn’s shadow, so much so that when Ancred is killed at his own birthday party, Troy at first tries sleuthing on her own. But she’s got a family full of suspects to contend with, and is pleased at last to hand things over to Alleyn – who had been, as one review put it, “detained by World War II.”
Like many other Ngaio Marsh novels, Final Curtain spends quite a bit of time introducing the reader to the suspects before Inspector Alleyn makes his entrance and solves the murder, but this one offers the special treat of putting Troy, one of the series’ best recurring characters, in the center of the action.