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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7002313,562 (3.5)39
  1. 00
    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 23 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  shanaqui | Jun 4, 2014 |
A group of people are invited to a house party where there will be a game of Murder played. Unfortunately, there ends up being a real murder instead of just a game.

The premise was interesting and the book was o.k. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a tendency to lose interest, so I wasn't able to keep good track of who was who. I found it interesting that the book followed the point of view, not of the inspector (who is apparently featured in a number of books by Marsh), but of one of the guests. It was quick to read, though. ( )
  LibraryCin | May 3, 2014 |
Six-word review: Cheerfully outlandish cozy delivers comfy quickie.

Extended review:

Ngaio Marsh's first Inspector Alleyn mystery, and my first Ngaio Marsh, is everything we look for in a British detective yarn of the golden 1930s. A house party at a country estate takes a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found with a knife in his back, and no one is above suspicion. Secret romances, jealous triangles, Russian conspirators, and watchful domestics keep the pages turning while a clever sleuth ferrets clues and sets traps. What more could we ask? ( )
  Meredy | Mar 14, 2014 |
A very superficial country house investigation. The forced whimsicality is just awful and Alleyn's snottiness is unbearable. The casualness with which people who have published pamphlets attacking the government can be arrested makes one really value the Bill of Rights of one's own country. The whole Communist subplot is woefully dumb. The obligatory romance is just pathetic. The mystery itself is not bad at all, but the unmasking of the murderer is ridiculous. This was published between the two world wars (1934), but WWII is not on the mind of any of the guests.

Michael Innes did this so much better. Even, e.g. Hamlet, Revenge! (1937), which does contain a romance is so much more interesting. ( )
  themulhern | Jan 16, 2014 |
This is closer to 4 stars, really, but I think Alleyn could have been developed better. The country house mystery is very good though I would have appreciated more humour. Will definitely read more, it's not outstanding but it's a cut above the rest, for sure. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:49 -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)

» see all 3 descriptions

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