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Last Ditch (Roderick Alleyn, #29)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Last Ditch - May 2020

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Susan | 10221 comments Mod
Welcome to our buddy read of "Last Ditch," the 29th Roderick Alleyn mystery, published in 1976.

This novel features the son of Alleyn and Troy, Rickie, who we last met as a child. He visits the Channel Islands to write, but then comes across a stablehand, dead in a ditch - the victim of an unlucky jump?

It might have ended there had Rickie not noticed some strange and puzzling things. But Rickie’s father, Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn, had been discreetly summoned to the scene, and when Rickie disappeared, it was the last straw…

Please do not post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
Thank you for setting up the threads, Susan.

Who is reading this one? I've just finished it, and found it quite an enjoyable read - it was fun to meet Ricky Alleyn, now grown up, after the last time we saw him he was a young child.

There are also some other good characters, and the Channel Islands setting is lovely, though it does give Marsh a chance to put in a lot of untranslated French!

I have one or two problems with the plot, but will save them for the spoiler thread later.


Susan | 10221 comments Mod
I have just started this one. Yes, funny to find Ricky all grown up now! Liking it so far, but not far in yet.


Sandy | 2890 comments Mod
I've finished this one. I listened to it and got the characters quite confused, leading to problems following the plot. I miss the cast list at the front of the books. I doubt I'll be able to help with any plot problems.

I absolutely loved the family interactions with Fox as god father. I had a hard time adjusting to an adult Ricky, with his pipe and pint. And I hadn't realized Ricky was short for Roderick.

What does he call his father? Was it 'Sid'? Was there an explanation?


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "What does he call his father? Was it 'Sid'? Was there an explanation?..."

He calls him Cid, because he works for CID! Must be a bit confusing when they are discussing Syd, though. :)


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
PS, I hadn't realised Ricky was short for Roderick either - I assumed he was Richard.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2123 comments Haha Every time I read Ricky, I think of that awful Bianca In Eastenders calling her husband. Most off-putting.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 798 comments I thought I had a copy of this - if I have, it is missing, so I've got a Kindle version.

I always thought it was set on the Scilly Isles. Is there a Ngaio Marsh on the Scillies? or am I imagining it? I'm not sure of the relationship between the Met Police and the police on a channel island, even if it's an unspecified one.

Other than that, and not much caring for Ricky, I can't remember anything about the plot, so it will be like reading a new book.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Haha Every time I read Ricky, I think of that awful Bianca In Eastenders calling her husband. Most off-putting."

Haha, I hadn't thought of this until you mentioned it, Jill!


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
Rosina wrote: "I thought I had a copy of this - if I have, it is missing, so I've got a Kindle version.

I always thought it was set on the Scilly Isles. Is there a Ngaio Marsh on the Scillies? or am I imagining..."


I don't think there is - I know we have read one or two others set in the West Country, but I don't remember the Scillies being involved, although I could be wrong.

I just did a bit of Googling and couldn't find anything about one of the Alleyn books being set on the Scillies, but I see that one of the Wycliffe books by W.J. Burley is set there, Wycliffe and Death in a Salubrious Place. I used to enjoy the TV series adapted from that series but haven't tried the books, and just realised I had got it mixed up with Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford!


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
As with some of Marsh's others, I thought this book definitely feels as if it is set at a much earlier era than the late 1970s - the whole feel of it and the way Ricky talks, saying things like: "I'm very much obliged," which I don't think was the way students talked in 1977!


message 12: by Tracey (last edited May 21, 2020 06:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tracey | 254 comments I think feels earlier too. It really made me laugh when Ricky and Syd were squaring up on the Island Belle, with the rather gentle threat of "I'd rather crawl after a caterpillar". Sounds much more like children squabbling than two grown men.


Tracey | 254 comments After deciding it felt like it was set earlier, I then read a description of Mr Ferrant in tight white flared trousers, wearing a medallion, which sounds so very 70's!

Currently about two thirds through. Good that Fox is getting a chance to practice his French, that he seems to have been learning forever.


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
Haha Tracey, you have a point about Mr Ferrant's outfits. I wonder if medallions will ever come back in?!


message 15: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2123 comments I hope not.


Susan | 10221 comments Mod
Oh goodness. My friend got married in the Seventies and she hates her wedding photos, with all the frills and fuss!

I have finished this now and it was interesting to meet Ricky again - I also kept thinking of Eastenders after the image popped into my head... Not something I watch, but odd how you know about these things, even if you don't like them.


message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9178 comments Mod
A minor puzzle for me in this book was that I noticed that Alleyn and Ricky kept referring to people "taking a scunner" to someone.

I had never previously heard of this, but Googled it and discovered it is a Scottish/northern English slang expression meaning to take a dislike. Seems an odd choice of expression for the posh Alleyns to use. I'm wondering if it is also a New Zealand expression?Or perhaps they have just been on holiday to Scotland! ;)


Tracey | 254 comments It didn't jump out at me, but I live in Glasgow, so not an unusual phrase to hear here. There are certainly many links with New Zealand and Scotland so could be a phrase used there, but I don't know for certain.


Tara  | 819 comments I actually enjoy that the books have an earlier feel and that the characters don't seem to be aging in real time. It gives it a cozy feel, which is what I need at the moment. I wonder if she wrote them that way because she preferred that time period, if she had difficulty transitioning them into newer times and older ages.


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