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A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

A Man Lay Dead (1934)

by Ngaio Marsh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Roderick Alleyn (1)

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7762711,891 (3.55)60
  1. 10
    Hamlet, revenge! by Michael Innes (themulhern)
    themulhern: A much superior country house murder, with an obligatory romance, a murder within a play (rather than a game), and a detective who lives in London. Published just a few years later (1937) when war was definitely in the air.

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I've not read any of Marsh's books before, which would seem odd seeing as they are firmly in the between wars period of great detective fiction, and I've read a number in this period. Unlike Sayers & Christie, Marsh's detective is actually in the police, although Detective Alleyn is clearly not a man to be pigeonholed. The setting is a country house party and the guests were playing murderers. Only it wasn't someone fooling they found at the bottom of the stairs. The investigation goes along maybe a little oddly - the mock investigation and trial by the guests of themselves was very unusual. However Alleyn is personable enough and arrives at just the right time to unravel the many strands of the mystery. I think I'll be interested to see quite where the series leads. ( )
  Helenliz | Jul 21, 2015 |
The first in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn series, A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh was published in 1934 and established another great mystery series during that genre’s golden age. The setting is a weekend house party where the guests are getting ready to play the popular game of Murder, but when the lights are turned back on, one of the party is lying dead in the hall. Scotland Yard’s Inspector Alleyn is dispatched to investigate as this case is a real puzzler with all the guests being able to account for their whereabouts. Not only is Alleyn able to figure out who the murderer is, he also is able to shut down a ring of Bolshevik conspirators.

As the introduction to this series, A May Lay Dead is an entertaining read but not particularly outstanding. The actual murder method was, however, most ingenious and that, along with the classic gathering of all suspects for the big reveal at the end gave the book a fun edge. About her main character, Marsh seemed a little unsure, but I suspect Alleyn’s character gets developed more fully as the series moves along.

I am a fan of mysteries written during this time period, and I will definitely be continuing on with this series if only to see how and where Ngaio Marsh fits into the hierarchy of Christie, Sayers and Tey, etc. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jul 14, 2015 |
I love a country-house murder-mystery, so looking forward to this by one of the queens of crime fiction. Hadn't read her before, and not overly impressed by this first outing. A lack of description, and not much scene-setting, and some daft business with a Bolshevik secret society. But enough of a puzzle that I will probably attempt another. ( )
  LARA335 | Oct 25, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this. It was my first reading of a Marsh novel, having concentrated on Christie in the past. The writing is witty and the characters very believable. Chief Inspector Alleyn is a sharp man who tries to dissemble his cleverness while reading his suspects. I liked him instantly as a character. The crime was a classic - hateful womanising bachelor who has numerous beneficiaries on his death, some of whom have good reason for wanting him dead, attends house party in the country with those beneficiaries - with an added sprinkling of Russian intrigue. I recommend it if you're a fan of Golden Age crime and like me haven't explored much beyond Christie. I'll be reading more Marsh now. ( )
  missizicks | Oct 12, 2014 |
I'm not wildly enthused about Ngaio Marsh and Inspector Alleyn, at this point. It's a smooth enough read, but the murder is a little haphazardly imagined: some elements of it suggest premeditation, while others suggest a crime of opportunity, but it has to be one or the other or it just doesn't work. Too much depends on opportunity -- the availability of the weapon, the position of the murdered man, the way the murder game turns out -- and yet the rest of it smacks of pre-meditation: the bizarre way the murderer sneaks downstairs to do it, planning out what gloves to use, arranging an alibi... And then there's the whole mess of the Russian secret society plot. Just... what?!

I can't say I really cared much about any of the characters. Alleyn seems... weirdly mercurial, but not in a believable way, flipping personalities more often than you'd change clothes. I don't understand him a bit. And Nigel Bathgate is just too bland: a Watson type of sidekick who makes silly mistakes and can't figure anything out.

I know I didn't like Peter Wimsey incredibly much the first time I read Whose Body?, so I'm giving this series more of a chance, but I'm not sure I'll go beyond the three books I have. So many books, so little time. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Jun 4, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ngaio Marshprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saxon, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For My Father and in memory of My Mother
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Nigel Bathgate, in the language of his own gossip column, was "definitely intrigued" about his week-end at Frantock.
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Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Ngaio Marsh's classic first novel

Wealthy Sir Hubert Handesley's original and lively weekend house parties are deservedly famous. To amuse his guests, he has devised a new form of the fashionable Murder Game, in which a guest is secretly selected to commit a "murder" in the dark and everyone assembles to solve the crime.

But when the lights go up this time there is a real corpse with a real dagger in the back. All seven suspects have had time to concoct skilful alibis - and it is Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn who has to try and figure out whodunnit...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312963580, Mass Market Paperback)

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Murdered.

At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlor game of "Murder." Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin. Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to find a complete collection of alibis, a missing butler, and an intricate puzzle of betrayal and sedition in the search for the key player in this deadly game.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Ngaio Marsh was one of the queens (she has been called the empress) of England & rsquo;s Golden Age of mystery fiction. And in true Golden Age fashion, her oeuvre opens with, yes, a country-house party between the two world wars & ndash; servants bustling, gin flowing, the gentlemen in dinner jackets, the ladies all slink and smolder. Even more delicious: The host, Sir Hubert Handesley, has invented a new and especially exciting version of that beloved parlor entertainment, The Murder Game.… (more)

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