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Colour Scheme (Roderick Alleyn, #12)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Colour Scheme - SPOILER thread

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Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for our discussion of Colour Scheme, the 12th Inspector Alleyn mystery. It is set in New Zealand's North Island and is quite an unusual mystery.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
Having listened to this on Audible, I realised Alleyn had appeared, albeit under another name, as the narrator changed his voice to match the character in previous books!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
That's funny, Susan! I kept thinking his conversational style and interest in Shakespeare seemed similar to Alleyn, but I didn't realise it actually was him until almost the end. I didn't understand why he adopted a disguise, to be honest - did I miss something?


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
I was disappointed that the murder came so late in the book, making the detection a bit of a rush, and then the killer was such a boring also-ran character, with no interesting hidden motive. I definitely prefer mysteries where the crime comes early on and then there is plenty of detection work!

Must admit I also felt a bit uneasy about the portrayal of the Maori characters, especially mixed-race Eru Saul, who seems to be portrayed so negatively.

I found Gaunt really amusing and loved the landscapes, but found this a bit of a chore compared to the other Alleyn books.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Here's a link to an interesting review which takes a more positive view:

https://crossexaminingcrime.wordpress...


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
I think he adopted a surprise as he was rumoured to be nearby and he did not want to tip off the murderer. We also had the possibly spy story running alongside, which was probably as important as the murder.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1950 comments I thought the late arrival of Alleyn was obvious. He had been written to by the doctor ,and no problem was given of him arriving . I think him being kept undercover was more from the spying incidents than anything to do with the murder,but with him being on the spot there was no question of him not taking over the investigation.


message 8: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (catjackson) I'm listening to this on audio but have also read it in book form before. One thing I'm not liking that much is that it seems the set-up to the murder is taking so long. There's just too much pre-murder "stuff". I don't remember feeling this way before.


Tracey | 246 comments I agree that the murder was too late in the book. The murderer wasn't a central enough character for my liking. Dikon annoyed me. He was in love with Barbara, but spoke to her appallingly, with his 'silly child' put downs.


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
I agree about Dikon, Tracey. I liked it when Barbara tells him it's her face and she will make funny faces if she wants to!


Sandy | 2634 comments Mod
My least favorite Alleyn so far.

What did others think about the letter Questing left for Bell? I thought he must have been trying to tell Bell the actor, Gaunt, was the spy but I was pretty sure the actor wasn't at the spa for the first flashing lights incident. Bell's reaction that he knew he was a scamp but still rather liked him fit in with my idea of Gaunt. But evidently Bell meant Questing was a scamp.

I really disliked that the murderer was such a minor character and, in my opinion, couldn't possibly keep a secret.

I enjoyed the scenes with Dr. Ackrington and his brother-in-law, Col. Claire. The thought of those two sharing a home with poor Mrs. Claire playing peace maker amused me to no end. My least favorite character was Simon, immature, uncontrolled, hot tempered and usually wrong.


Sandy | 2634 comments Mod
The 'romance' between Bell and Barbara reminded me of one in a Miss Marple, where sophisticated young man arrives and 'improves' a perfectly nice tom boy. I didn't like either romance.


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
I thought Barbara was treated appallingly by the male characters in this book - patronised and put down. Even 'transformed' by a dress, rather like a rural Cinderella. Not my favourite of this series, I will say.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 696 comments I am just starting my re-read of this (copy arrived from Amazon yesterday). I remember the mud-pools from when I first read it decades ago, but not much else.

To continue with my war-time obsession, we are now in the year 1941*, and Alleyn has for some unknown reason uprooted himself from Great Britain to the relative safety of New Zealand. I gather he's looking for spies - but aren't there more spies (and more to spy on) in the UK? We are still nearly a year away from Pearl Harbour and the entry of Japan into the war.

Why is a 21 year-old Simon only 'thinking' about joining up? He left school two and a half years ago, so he could have joined up the moment the war started.

*That's the year that has a Monday, 13th January, and such precision must be intentional.


message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "Bell's reaction that he knew he was a scamp but still rather liked him fit in with my idea of Gaunt. But evidently Bell meant Questing was a scamp.
.."


I was puzzled by this because I don't think we'd had any previous suggestion of Bell liking Questing - and his creepy behaviour to Barbara goes way beyond being a "scamp"!


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I really disliked that the murderer was such a minor character and, in my opinion, couldn't possibly keep a secret ..."

Totally agree - also would he even be physically and mentally capable of the demands of spying? What's the betting he would miss appointments, send the messages at the wrong times or wrongly worded, etc!


message 17: by Jill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1950 comments Otherwise he was extremely good at living as a character no body would suspect.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Otherwise he was extremely good at living as a character no body would suspect."

Ah, that could be, I suppose, good point, Jill. If so, he must be an even greater actor than Gaunt, though! :)


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "The 'romance' between Bell and Barbara reminded me of one in a Miss Marple, where sophisticated young man arrives and 'improves' a perfectly nice tom boy. I didn't like either romance."

Yes, I know which one you mean, Sandy! Not very romantic.

There doesn't seem to be much love for this book in our group so far - was it a favourite with anyone?


Tracey | 246 comments Certainly not a favourite for me. I enjoy how Alleyn interacts with Troy, Fox & Bathgate. I missed them in this book!


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
I agree, Tracey. I would have cheered, had Bathgate appeared!


Sandy | 2634 comments Mod
Did anyone connect the title with the solution? I didn't and was surprised that color blindness turned puce to blue. (I just goggled puce and found, while the name is terrible, its one of my favorite colors.)


Tracey | 246 comments Sandy wrote: "Did anyone connect the title with the solution? I didn't and was surprised that color blindness turned puce to blue. (I just goggled puce and found, while the name is terrible, its one of my favori..."

I've only just understood the title now you have explained it! I think I must have been having a very slow day, or just happy to finish the book and move on to something else!


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
I googled puce and got a results page full of bugs! Further looking revealed colours ranging from a pretty, dark pink, to a much darker, purple/brown. I'm still confused as which colour it actually is from my internet wanderings, which, as so often, refuse to give you one answer :)


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
I thought the title was clever. I've always understood puce to be dark pink - sometimes used to describe the complexion of someone in a rage - so am intrigued to learn that it is also used for other colours!


Louise Culmer | 109 comments I didn't find this one particularly interesting. The snooty family bored me, and I was disappointed that the actor turned out to have feet of clay - I would have liked him.to confpund them all. Also too easy to guess the murderer.


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
It is odd that this is, often, described as one of her greatest novels, when so many of us (myself included) were distinctly underwhelmed.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 696 comments When I was a lot younger, Ngaio Marsh was one of my favourite mystery writers, and I enjoyed Inspector Alleyn (though even then I didn't take to Bathgate). But re-reading them now I find them rather off-putting. The mysteries are usually fine, but the characters are in the main grotesque caricatures, unpleasant or foolish, described without any warmth or affection from their writer. The only exceptions would be the narrator's voice character - the pretentiously named Dikon in this, Aubrey Mandrake in D&tDF, Robin in Surfeit of Lampreys, and the awful Bathgate in others.

It is particularly noticeable in this book. I would happily push all of them into the mud pool. Boil the lot of them.


message 29: by Rosina (last edited Dec 11, 2018 04:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 696 comments Has anyone else noticed - or is it just in my edition - that the speech "Once more unto the breach, dear friends" apparently given by Gaunt as the last part of his performance is not "Unmistakably the opening line of the Agincourt speech" as alleged by Septimus Falls, but the opening line of the speech before Harfleur - Act III, Scene 1? France, before Harfleur. The slightest thought would show that there wasn't a 'breach' at Agincourt, since it wasn't an assault on a walled city.

Of course, the St Crispin's Day Speech is the Agincourt speech (unless he'd given "Upon the King" as his encore.


Susan | 9641 comments Mod
It's a shame you weren't there, Rosina - you could have heckled him ;)


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 696 comments Susan wrote: "It's a shame you weren't there, Rosina - you could have heckled him ;)"

No, I would have arrested Septimus Falls as an enemy agent. A man who says that 'Once more unto the breach' is the opening line of the Agincourt speech isn't the educated Englishman he claims to be - he isn't even someone who took O-Level English Lit in the 1960s. It even makes me wonder if the man who claims to be Gaunt isn't also an enemy agent, since I suspect that he also believed it to be a speech before Agincourt, not before Harfleur.

Honestly, you can't hang a clue to the murderer on a line from Shakespeare if the author can't even get the line right!


Louise Culmer | 109 comments Rosina wrote: "Susan wrote: "It's a shame you weren't there, Rosina - you could have heckled him ;)"

No, I would have arrested Septimus Falls as an enemy agent. A man who says that 'Once more unto the breach' is..."

I'd consider an Englishman to be doing well.if he recognised that it came from Henry V.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 696 comments Louise wrote: "I'd consider an Englishman to be doing well.if he recognised that it came from Henry V. "

I will take that as a compliment. I apparently did better than Ngaio Marsh, unless it's some kind of weird editorial correction in later editions. Misidentifying a well-known speech from a well-known play, and using it in your book - and no one spotting it - is not what one would expect from Ms Marsh.


message 34: by Emma (new)

Emma | 53 comments Susan wrote: "I thought Barbara was treated appallingly by the male characters in this book - patronised and put down. Even 'transformed' by a dress, rather like a rural Cinderella. Not my favourite of this series..."
Absolutely! Though they all treated Mrs Claire terribly as well, as though she she was practically witless.

I really liked the plotting in this, though I thought the characters less engaging than usual, and the reveal of the enemy agent was very unbelievable. Reading as a pakeha it seems that Marsh treated her Maori characters with respect, aside from Eru.


Louise Culmer | 109 comments I thought Mrs Claire was practically witless.


Sandy | 2634 comments Mod
Regarding Mrs Claire I wondered if she was born with that witless way or just adapted to how she was treated over the years. I don't remember any hint from her brother's treatment of her.


Tara  | 767 comments I totally didn't get the title reference until reading this thread, so somehow that escaped me. I didn't find this family nearly as obnoxious as the one in Death of a Peer, although based on their stumbling, bumbling personalities, it was no wonder their business was teetering on the brink of insolvency.

At first I suspected Septimus Falls (what kind of name is that btw?), but realized he must be Alleyn before we got to the alibi unveiling. One wonders if Smith's drunken incompetence was a front for his activities so that no one would suspect him of being capable. He seemed to do a good job of that.


Lesley | 384 comments Rosina wrote: "I am just starting my re-read of this (copy arrived from Amazon yesterday). I remember the mud-pools from when I first read it decades ago, but not much else.

To continue with my war-time obsessi..."


In February 1941, at the suggestion of British military intelligence, New Zealand established the Security Intelligence Bureau (SIB). Modelled on the British MI5, the SIB was intended to manage internal security. Major Kenneth Folkes, a British army officer, was sent from the UK to take charge. The SIB lost all credibility in mid-1942, when convicted conman Sidney Gordon Ross persuaded Folkes that the Nazis were carrying out a sabotage and invasion plan in New Zealand. A police investigation proved that the plot was a fabrication, and Folkes was removed from his post. The police took over management of the SIB, which was disbanded at the war’s end.
Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand : story, Intelligence services, 1800s to 1945. Retrieved from https://teara.govt.nz/en/intelligence...


Lesley | 384 comments Sandy wrote: "Did anyone connect the title with the solution? I didn't and was surprised that color blindness turned puce to blue. (I just goggled puce and found, while the name is terrible, its one of my favori..."

I remember from school where it was written in notes of or interview with Ngaio Marsh that the title of the book started out to be Colour Blind (or Blindness, I can't recall which), but a change was requested by the publisher, to better accommodate the American market, while still in draft form. The title settled on was what we have today.


Lesley | 384 comments I liked the way this book was just a little different from the usual formula, getting to know the setting, character personalities and backgrounds, before the murder occurs so is there to be solved.

Just as in A Surfeit of Lampreys, Roberta Gray was Marsh's alter-ego, I thought in this book, and a couple of our previous reads, Death in a White Tie, and Death of a Dancing Footman, she gives us self-centred, often theatrical personalities, in a wonderfully satirical way. You could almost think a comedy of manners!


message 41: by Emma (new)

Emma | 53 comments Lesley wrote: "I liked the way this book was just a little different from the usual formula, getting to know the setting, character personalities and backgrounds, before the murder occurs so is there to be solved..."

I think Marsh tended to do this in several of her crime novels - one often finds that two-thirds of the book have gone by before Alleyn and his team are called in. I'm thinking of 'Opening Night' and 'Light Thickens' in particular where this happens. You could almost be reading a novel about the theatre before it turns into a murder investigation.


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Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8607 comments Mod
Lesley wrote: "I remember from school where it was written in notes of or interview with Ngaio Marsh that the title of the book started out to be Colour Blind (or Blindness, I can't recall which)..."

That's really interesting, thanks, Lesley! I'm glad it was changed, since I think it would be too much of a giveaway - I've read a few mysteries where the title works as a massive spoiler.


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