Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ngaio Marsh

I've been reading some "trash" from what was probably the golden age of detective fiction, the 20's and 30's. I found the following passage by Ngaio Marsh demonstrated that sometimes these writers can show their stuff:
Mrs. Candour had wept and her tears had blotted her make-up. She had dried them and in doing so had blotted her make-up again. Her face was an unlovely mess of mascara, powder and rouge. It hung in flabby pockets from the bone of her skull. She looked bewildered, frightened and vindictive. Her hands were tremulous. She was a large woman born to be embarrassingly ineffectual. In answer to Alleyn's suggestion that she should sit on one of the chairs, she twitched her loose lips, whispered something, and walked towards them with that precarious gait induced by excessive flesh mounted on French heels. She moved in a thick aura of essence of violet.

Ngaio Marsh – Death in Ecstasy (1936)
I'll let you decide if she was one of the bad guys.


Ray Girvan said...

Y'know, I'd never bothered to investigate who or what a Ngaio is (I'd always assumed it to be African and probably pronounced with a click). But no, turns out to be a New Zealand tree, whose leaves contain a hepatoxic "furanoid sesquiterpene ketone" called ngaione.

Dr. C said...

Cool. And: "The Māori would rub the leaves over their skin to repel mosquitoes and sandflies."
Probably works better than DEET.