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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
7402512,599 (3.52)46
  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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» See also 46 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (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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