Credit: Shutterstock/Ngaio Marsh

If you go through life looking for insults, you may be comfortably assured of finding them

New Zealand-born crime mystery author Ngaio Marsh was one of the four bestselling Queens of Crime in the golden age of the genre during the 1930s.

A contemporary of Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L Sayers, her mysteries all featured police detective Inspector Alleyn, with a TV series starring Patrick Malahide based on the books. She wrote 32 detective novels and most were set in England, where she spent much of her time living.

Ngaio was also an active theatre practitioner, as an amatuer director who played an important role in establishing New Zealand’s professional theatre. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1966.

“You may be able to write a novel or not,” she once said. “You’ll never know until you have worked very hard indeed and written at least part of it.”

That’s something that successful contemporary author Stella Duffy was aware of when she wrote Money In The Morgue, based on an unfinished outline Ngaio had written for a story in the 1940s .

“Hard work, but enjoyable,” was her verdict on taking on the Queen of Crime’s mantle. She was aware of just how exacting the Queen of Crime’s fans would be – for they are still legion.