Tag Archives: Ngaio Marsh

A Wreath for Rivera – Ngaio Marsh

A Wreath for Rivera (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery)

From the Publisher:

When one of Lord Pastern’s infamous jokes turns into the “accidental” death of a nightclub band member, Inspector Alleyn hears the unmistakable music of murder.

My thoughts:

One of my favourite Marsh mysteries.  Mainly because of all the times I laughed out loud while reading this.  I love Marsh’s descriptions, her quirky cast of characters, the overall mystery.  Yes, I do acknowledge that this mystery was not really believable, and neither were the characters, but the main reason I read is for the enjoyment factor.  I don’t expect mysteries to make me laugh out loud, unless I’m reading Georgette Heyer, but this one did, therefore it gets high points in my opinion.  I also like the fact that Alleyn’s presence was felt all the way from the beginning. 

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Final Curtain – Ngaio Marsh

Finally have some time to catch up with the reviews. I read this book whilst on vacation in September, so the review was really overdue. I will catch up with the rest really soon.

Final Curtain

From the Publisher:

After a lethal birthday dinner of champagne and crayfish, famed Shakespearian actor Sir Henry is dead, and the cast of suspects is a mile long.

My thoughts:

Before I picked up the book, I saw the Patrick Malahide made for TV version of this story, and I absolutely loved it.  I’m really sad that they didn’t do more of the made for TV installments.  Coming back to the book, I have to say I loved it.  Ngaio Marsh does the British cozy very well.  Lots of quirky characters, endless descriptions, not really rooted in reality.  If you don’t enjoy this king of genre, I would stay away from this book.  Since I saw the movie adaptation for this, the story came even more alive for me, as I could actually see the characters (and I must say, they did a pretty good job in keeping the movie true to the book).  Inspector Allen plays a stronger role in this installment, as both he and Troy are present almost from the very beginning, with Troy actually playing a crucial part in this story.  I’m not one to over analyze the plot and characters, I tend to judge a book over the enjoyment factor, and this one was enjoyable to me.  I don’t care that the plot was unbelievable, and I don’t care that the cast of characters were overly eccentric.  If I wanted a true to life story I would have read a true crime book (although, considering how overly dramatic those are, I’m not sure they are exactly true to life either.)  Final verdict, I liked it.

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Death of a Peer, Death and the Dancing Footman, and Colour Scheme – Ngaio Marsh

These reviews are a bit overdue. I always say this, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks. It seems like I’ve been on a Marsh streak lately. I find this author quite addicting, I can never stop after reading just one of her books.

Death of a Peer (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery)

From the Publisher:

Murder becomes a family affair…

The Lampreys were a charming, eccentric happy-go-lucky family, teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Until the gruesome murder of their uncle-and unpleasant Marquis, who met his untimely death while leaving the Lamprey flat-left them with a fortune. Now it’s up to Inspector Roderick Alleyn to sift through the alibis to discover which Lamprey hides a ruthless killer behind an amiable facade…

This book was also published under the title A Surfeit of Lampreys (London, 1941)

My thoughts:

This mystery has probably one of my favourite cast of characters.  I spent most of the book laughing out loud.  I don’t know what it is about her novels, but she takes a standard plot, and always manages to make it seem fresh and entertaining.  You’ve got to love long descriptions and a longer setup to like her novels, so if you lose patience easily with that don’t pick up this book.


Death and the Dancing Footman

From the Publisher:

The party’s over when murder makes an entrance…

With the notion of bringing together the most bitter of enemies for his own amusement, a bored, mischievous millionaire throws a house party. As a brutal snowstorm strands the unhappy guests, the party receives a most unwelcome visitor: death. Now the brilliant inspector Roderick Alleyn must step in to decipher who at the party is capable of cold-blooded murder…

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the premise of this story.  The characters were really well developed-as usual, and quirky-as usual.  And the description of the dancing footman had me in stitches.  Marsh’s descriptions are so well done that I could almost see the footman dancing to Boops-a-Daisy.  And yes, like every other Marsh mystery, she takes a very long time to set up the plot and cast of characters, but I really enjoy that part.


Colour Scheme

From the Publisher:

England is at war–this means “spy fever” for a quarrelsome collection of patriots at a shabby New Zealand resort, and a macabre murder that shocks even Scotland Yard!

My thoughts:

This installment had a very slow start, and the plot didn’t grab me.  I really enjoy the fluidity of Marsh’s writing, and even her bad novels manage to grab me, but I wish the plot was better developed.  And I really miss the traditional setting, with Alleyn and his sidekick.  I usually find WWII spy novels entertaining, but this one was just too blah, and I think the main reason was the fact that I didn’t care for any of the characters.  Even Marsh’s usually detailed scene development couldn’t save this book for me.  This was definitely my least favourite Alleyn mystery so far.


Died in the Wool

From the Publisher:

A murdered body is discovered on a farm, packed in a bale of wool–and Roderick Alleyn must find a wild, woolly killer.

My thoughts:

I didn’t care at all for her last book, so I was definitely pleased to see that her plot was a bit better in this one.  Yes, it’s another spy novel, and the spy angle is definitely overplayed.  But the mystery was interesting and the spy angle didn’t detract too much from it.  And in this installment, Alleyn goes back to normal, or as normal as he can get considering he is away from home, tracking down spies, and trying to solve an 18 month old murder without his trusted sidekick.  I’m just hoping that she exhausted this spy plot and she got back to writing Alleyn in a traditional British setting.


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Death at the Bar – Ngaio Marsh

Death at the Bar

From the Publisher:

A local pub serves up a curious brew-of murder…

Settling in for a cozy night of brandy and darts at the pub, an inebriated lawyer suffers a seemingly harmless dart puncture. But within moments of his injury, the unlucky barrister loses more than a simple game of darts-he loses his life. Called in to investigate this alleged accident, Inspector Roderick Alleyn wonders about the rules of this friendly bar game-and probes into a pub full of motives for murder…

My thoughts:

I saw the Patrick Malahide TV adaptation of this novel last year.  Was trying to remember who the killer was, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember.  Interesting twists and turns in this one.  I like the atmosphere she creates in her novels, and this one didn’t disappoint.  I didn’t much care for the characters, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel.

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Overture to Death – Ngaio Marsh

Overture to Death

From the Publisher:

It was planned as an act of charity: a new piano for the parish hall, an amusing play to finance the gift. But its execution was doomed when Miss Campanula sat down to play. A chord was struck, a shot rang out and Miss Campanula was dead. A case of sinister infatuation for the brilliant Chief Detective-Inspector Alleyn.

My thoughts:

One of my favourite things about Marsh’s book is that she spends quite a bit of time on the set up for the mystery-if you like action from the very beginning this book is not for you.  I love the fact that we see so much scene development and character development in a mystery.  For me, the scene and the atmosphere are as important as the mystery itself.  DO NOT read the chapter titles, unless you like spoilers.  If I had to pick my two favourite detectives ever, I would pick Poirot and Alleyn.  Alleyn is as enjoyable for me to read as Poirot.  Another classic 1930’s mystery, and really, what’s not to love about a booby-trapped piano as the murder weapon?

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