Review published on December 17, 2015.
Ten Floorboards Creaking
Tied Up in Tinsel is a Yuletide country house mystery featuring Ngaio Marsh’s popular gentleman detective Roderick Alleyn. In it, Inspector Alleyn returns from a trip abroad to discover his wife Troy, who has decamped to the country pile of Hilary Bill-Tasman in order to paint the lord of the manor’s portrait, embroiled in an intriguing mystery. Instead of going with the far more popular Father Christmas, Bill-Tasman decided to have the Christmas presents handed out to family and locals alike by a festive druid, played by the unpopular manservant Moult. When Moult disappears soon after the gift giving, there should be no shortage of suspects, what with all of the servants being paroled murderers from the nearby prison after all, but the most likely suspects are actually the highly respectable guests of the house. Luckily, Inspector Alleyn is roped in to investigate whether the former criminals are really reformed and whether the apparently innocent parties are really as innocent as they appear.
The entire Inspector Alleyn series is worth a read, but Tied Up in Tinsel can be read as a standalone novel if you’re just looking for a spot of cosy Christmas crime. Now, if cosy crime novels are anything to go by, then anyone visiting a country house should expect it to be peopled by a host of eccentric (and possibly murderous) characters, but this is taken to the Nth degree in Tied Up in Tinsel. Hilary Bill-Tasman is a rather remarkable character, his family/guests are a bunch of oddballs, and all of the servants are murderers – it’s really no surprise that Troy Alleyn (it’s nice to see her playing more of a starring role) feels out of place from the start, nor that Inspector Alleyn is faced with another case where everybody is up to something. Figuring out whodunit might not be that hard in Tied Up in Tinsel, but the how and the why will certainly keep readers guessing until the very end.
Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh
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