Magazine article Verbatim

Murder! She Ejaculated

Magazine article Verbatim

Murder! She Ejaculated

Article excerpt

"When in Rome" by Ngaio Marsh is an example of what good writing is all about--detailed plotting, superb characterization, word pictures of Rome of la dolce vita. All combine--not in a roman a clef, but in a Roman cliffhanger. Before you run down to the library (you won't find it at your local bookstore, it was published in 1971), let me tell you what's in store (or in the library) for you.

Assorted characters including Mr. Sebastian Mailer, tour director and his patrons: Mr. Barnaby Grant, author; the Baron and Baroness Van der Veghel; Lady Bracely and her nephew, the Honorable Kenneth Dorne; Miss Sophy Jason, writer of children's stories; Major Hamilton Sweet and Superintendent Roderick Alleyn, C.I.D.

Assorted characteristics including superannuated, junkie, bad-tempered, ultra-British, boisterous and extremely reticent--all applying variously to the assembled cast.

Italians everywhere including Il Questore Valdarno and sundry members of the Questura.

Italian phrases like basta, non l'ho fatto io, scioc-chezze, ecco!

British phrases like Gawd!

Rome! the Piazza Colonna, Consolato Brittannico, the Pensione Gallico, the Spanish Steps.

And the writing. And what writing! Miss Marsh has you caught up in the exuberance of Roman life, the emotions, the sudden and vehement utterances. And all without the current fashionable use of explicit or erotic passages. But I can't contain my excitement any longer. Let me take you on a tour of "When in Rome."

Page 14: Barnaby pays for a glass of beer and we're off.

"Here," he said in basic Italian. "Keep the change." The waiter ejaculated with evident pleasure.

Page 49: The tour is just starting.

"It's obliging of you to talk to me," Alleyn said. "I've just been, not exactly slapped back but slightly edged off by the Guest of Honour."

"Nothing to what I was!" Sophy ejaculated.

Page 74: The tour continues and the writing flows.

Major Sweet left by one of the side doors. Alleyn disappeared behind the god, enthusiastically followed by the Van der Veghels. They could be heard ejaculating in some distant region.

Page 75: The plot thickens.

"Ah," ejaculated Grant, "don't remind me of that for God's sake!"

Page 84: Mr. Mailer has disappeared and Father Denys can't contain himself.

Father Denys clapped his hands to his forehead. "Violetta, is it!" he ejaculated. "A terrible pest, that one, God forgive me, for she's touched in her wits, poor creature."

Page 87: Major Sweet learns that the tour will dine at the Giaconda.

"Good God!" the Major ejaculated. As well he might. The Giaconda is the most exclusive as it is undoubtedly the most expensive restaurant in Rome. …

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