Singing in the Shrouds

Singing in the Shrouds
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With this novel of mounting tension among apparently normal people, Ngaio Marsh achieved a triumph on a level with her most famous detective novels Surfeit of Lampreys, Scales of Justice and Off With His Head.On a cold February night the police find the third corpse on the quayside in the Pool of London, her body covered with flower petals and pearls. The killer walked away, singing.When the cargo ship, Cape Farewell, sets sail, she carries nine passengers, one of whom is known to be the murderer. Which is why Superintendent Roderick Alleyn joins the ship at Portsmouth on the most difficult assignment of his professional career…


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Ngaio Marsh

Singing in the Shrouds

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.


An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd.

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

First published in Great Britain by Ngaio Marsh Ltd 1958

Copyright © 1958 Ngaio Marsh Ltd

Ngaio Marsh asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins ebooks

HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication

Source ISBN: 9780006159582

Ebook Edition © OCTOBER 2009 ISBN: 9780007344741 Version: 2016-08-30

PC Moir
A Taxi-driver
A Sailor
Mrs Dillington-Blick
Her Friend
Mr Cuddy A draper
Mrs Cuddy His wife
Miss Katherine Abbott An authority on church music
Mr Philip Merryman A retired schoolmaster
Father Jourdain An Anglo-Catholic priest
His Fellow-Cleric
Jemima Carmichael
Dr Timothy Makepiece Medical Officer, Cape Farewell
Mr Aubyn Dale A celebrity of commercial television
His dearest friend
Their dearest male friend
Their dearest female friend
Mr Donald McAngus A philatelist
Dennis A steward
A Wireless Officer
Captain Bannerman Master, Cape Farewell
Superintendent Roderick Alleyn ClD, New Scotland Yard


Prologue with Corpse

In the Pool of London and farther east all through the dockyards the fog lay heavy. Lights swam like moons in their own halos. Insignificant buildings, being simplified, became dramatic. Along the Cape Line Company’s stretch of wharfage the ships at anchor loomed up portentously: Cape St Vincent, Glasgow. Cape Horn, London. Cape Farewell, Glasgow. The cranes that served these ships lost their heads in the fog. Their gestures as they bowed and turned became pontifical.

Beyond their illuminated places the dockyards vanished. The gang loading the Cape Farewell moved from light into nothingness. Noises were subdued and isolated and a man’s cough close at hand was more startling than the rattle of winches.

Police Constable Moir, on duty until midnight, walked in and out of shadows. He breathed the soft cold smell of wet wood and heard the slap of the night tide against the wharves. Acres and acres of shipping and forests of cranes lay around him. Ships, he thought romantically, were, in a sort of way, like little worlds. Tied up to bollards and lying quiet enough but soon to sail over the watery globe as lonely as the planets wandering in the skies. He would have liked to travel. He solaced himself with thoughts of matrimony, promotion and, when the beat was getting him down a bit, of the Police Medal and sudden glory. At a passageway between buildings near the Cape Farewell he walked slower because it was livelier there. Cars drove up: in particular an impressive new sports car with a smashing redhead at the wheel and three passengers, one of whom he recognized with interest as the great TV personality, Aubyn Dale. It was evident that the others, a man and woman, also belonged to that mysterious world of glaring lights, trucking cameras and fan mails. You could tell by the way they shouted ‘darling’ at each other as they walked through the passageway.

PC Moir conscientiously moved himself on. Darkness engulfed him, lights revealed him. He had reached the boundary of his beat and was walking along it. A bus had drawn up at the entry to the waterfront and he watched the passengers get out and plod, heads down and suitcases in hand, towards the

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