Although a New Zealander by birth, Ngaio Marsh, has to be considered one of the great writers of the classic British detective novel. She has never come close to matching Agatha Christie's devious and ingenious talent for misdirection - not to mention her popularity - yet she is a far better writer than Christie. Her characters have depth and her dialogue is sharp and witty, albeit perhaps a bit too British upper crusty for some tastes. She chooses very interesting settings (as in "Died in the Wool") and milieux (as in "Artists In Crime") and describes them well - to the point where on occasions the atmosphere and mood provide half the pleasure of reading the book.
In "Hand In Glove", the tranquility of Pyke Period's English country house is disrupted by the discovery of his houseguest's body in an open ditch. Harry Cartell was the victim of an ingenious trap that could have been laid by any of half a dozen characters, whose backgrounds range from highly suspicious to above suspicion. Many secrets and many motives, but the narrative never generates confusion in the reader, only a mystification that is very gratifyingly unraveled by Roderick Alleyn. The clue on which the mystery turns - Pyke Period's misdirected letters - provides one of those "Aha!" moments that mystery readers so often long for, but so seldom get.
I am a practiced reader of detective stories and while I find most of Marsh's mysteries to be enjoyable reading, I do not find them particularly mystifying - I'm usually able to spot the guilty party in the early chapters. However, in "Hand In Glove" she very adroitly pulled the wool over my eyes, while playing fair every step of the way. This is a well-told story with a cast of plausible suspects, deft narration and excellent misdirection while presenting all of the clues fairly. A fun ready, and one of Marsh's best mysteries.