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Colour Scheme
Ngaio Marsh
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Colour Scheme (Roderick Alleyn #12)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,532 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Colour Scheme is a detective novel by Ngaio Marsh; it is the twelfth novel to feature Roderick Alleyn, and was first published in 1943. The novel takes place in New Zealand during World War II; the plot involves suspected Nazi activity at a hot springs resort on the New Zealand coast and a gruesome murder whose solution exposes the spies. Alleyn himself is working for mili ...more
Published 1943 by Little, Brown, & Co.
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Alison yes - it is the first one I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a page -turner.
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Ivonne Rovira
What passes for mediocre Ngaio Marsh is better than the best from many mystery writers. This isn't the worst that Miss Marsh penned. (That dubious honor must go to the plodding Overture To Death.) But Colour Scheme suffers from one of the same setbacks: Inspector Alleyn isn't introduced until too late in the novel. (Actually, I didn't realize he was in the novel until late in the 11th chapter!) The description of Rotorua on the North Island was enchanting; I loved learning about the Maoris and t ...more
One of the strongest of Marsh's books in terms of setting and culture. A New Zealand spa, built around a set of natural hot mud pools, is practically within shouting distance of a Maori village. The village leader, an ancient and retired Member of Parliament, is an endearing character who helps us see the endearing side of the awkward Claire family who run the spa.

Maurice Questing is so close to his goal of grabbing the spa away from the Claires that he is scouting for business. He entices Geoff
Another Marsh cozy. I love these things for many reasons; I enjoy mystery and WWII era behavior and mores and Brits. But the real reason I keep returning to Marsh is this; consider how she introduces the character of Maurice Questing;

"Maurice Questing was about fifty years old and so much a type that a casual observer would have found it difficult to describe him. He appeared in triplicate at private bars, hotel lounges, business meetings and race-courses. His features were blurred and thick, hi
Alleyn returns to New Zealand under an alias, to spend World War II hunting for traitors & spies in the unlikely setting of a therapeutic thermal spa in the furthest reaches of Empire. Wai-ata-Tapu Springs is run (badly) by a retired Anglo-Indian colonel & his endearingly bumbling family. Unfortunately, they are under a financial obligation to the most objectionable of their guests, & he's threatening to call in his loan & take control of the Springs. At the same time, the Colone ...more
Lady Aeval
I am going to depart a bit from my normal template I use when reviewing so if anyone is used to my regular posts, I hope you don't mind.

This book was a surprise for me. I am a huge Ngaio Marsh fan but when I was originally reading these, I could not find this title in any of my used bookstores. A couple of decades later and I am now listening to all of the titles in order on audiobook.

Since I have started listening to these I have been biased and prefer the editions narrated by James Saxon. I h
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 1998.

This novel marks something of a return to form for Ngaio Marsh. After a sequence with hackneyed plots and stereotyped settings (mainly upper-class house-parties), she comes up with something rather different. This is reflected in the title of the novel; instead of the word "death" being prominent in a phrase with little to do with the plot, we have a subtle hint toward what's actually going on.

Although there must be about five earlier Alleyn nove
New Zealand, like the world around it, has been turned topsy-turvy by World War II. Suspicions about enemy agents and plots to infiltrate the country are rife, including at the thermal spa Wai-ata-Tapu Springs, a retreat that espouses the healing nature of the mud springs. Unfortunately, the spa is run by the inept Clare family, who are in very real danger of losing ownership to one of their few guests, the unsavory and much disliked Maurice Questing. Questing has some undisclosed hold on the fa ...more
Oct 06, 2011 rabbitprincess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of WW2 mysteries, NZ and/or the author
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colour Scheme (1943) is one of the smaller number of detective novels that Ngaio Marsh set in her home country, New Zealand. Most of her books, which feature Roderick Alleyn as her detective, are set in England. But a few, including Colour Scheme and Died in the Wool, take Inspector Alleyn away from his accustomed haunts.

This one is set during WW II at a small, privately owned health spa located on the coast of New Zealand's North Island. The spa features warm to hot mud and steam baths. Unfortu
Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh is a great little mystery. Set at a resort build around natural hot mud pools in New Zealand, the setting is unique, at least in my experience, and the characters range from quirky to downright sleazy.

This is a murder mystery, and by the time the murder occurs I was more than ready for it. The victim is an absolute jerk, but the murder doesn’t happen until over halfway through the story. I guess the plot does move rather slowly in that way, but the characters kept m
If I had not know going in that this was a murder mystery, I wouldn't have guessed it in the first half of the book. We meet various colorful characters at a spa in New Zealand, where they mostly bicker. Also there are some descriptions of the traditions of the local Maoris. The only hint of mystery is the conviction of some members of the family that owns the spa that someone, perhaps their unpleasant guest Questing, is an enemy spy and gave information leading to the recent torpedoing of a shi ...more
Published in 1943 and set on the coast of New Zealand's North Island, Colour Scheme highlights the impact that World War II had on the entire British Commonwealth. Colonel and Mrs. Claire run a shabby spa, Wai-ata-Tupu Springs, where they advertise the healing properties of the sulphur springs mud for a variety of medical complaints. One of their guests is Maurice Questing, who is suspected of being a Nazi spy, and who is attempting to take control of Wai-ata-Tupu Springs from the Claire family. ...more
Nancy Butts
Book 12, I think it is: and it starts a run of books set in wartime New Zealand. This one features a rundown thermal spa on the North Island, a Maori reserve, and the suspicion of spies sinking ships. The victim is boiled to death in a thermal mud bath: Marsh certainly never shrank from grisly deaths in her novels! There is also an actor who features in a prominent role: the theatre and theatre people are a favorite refrain in many of her books.
This was a very different novel than the other Alleyn novels I have read. It is set in New Zealand and includes Maori tribes, suspected fifth-columnists (spies), and a British family. There is no sign of a major crime until well into the book, but the suspicions and conflicts among the characters make for a compelling story anyway.
I enjoyed this mystery a lot! Very engaging. Unfortunately there was some historical racism/misogyny mixed up in the story too (not surprising for when it was written). The women were treated like incompetent children and the indigenous people like savages. I will still give this author another go, though, because there is potential.
This only my second Ngaio Marsh mystery - the first was over long and I gave up. As an Agatha Christie fan I find any other detective writers to be lacking her concise and tidy style - not a word is unnecessary. The scene setting in this story was too long - the murder didn't occur until three quarters into the book. It did occur in a boiling mud pool - very original! Like an Agatha story there was a sudden and strange proposal, lots of dated racism and sexism and seemingly unrealistic dialogue, ...more
excellent murder mystery set in new Zealand, by one of the great authors from that country. This book was written in 1943 and is set in wartime, deals with Maori culture as well as white culture. Would like to read more of her books,
Katie Hilton
A good murder mystery set in author Ngaio Marsh's beloved New Zealand. The book offers lots of local color and customs, along with interesting characters in a wartime setting adding possible espionage to the jumble of motives. A good read.
Not the best Marsh book I've chanced upon. It plods along for far too long, a lot of the story could have been stripped away to speed things up and stop the reader/listener getting bored. [return][return]The murder itself doesnt happen until half way into the book at which point it does speed up, but there's still an awful lot of sitting around and talking.[return][return]Alleyn (as Alleyn) doesn't turn up until the end, (although he's in the book from the middle). [return][return]The narrator - ...more
Oh. My. God. It took me almost a week to finish this darn book. It's a good story, it's in the middle of WWII and the place is New Zealand. It's a family-owned spa where the father and mother cling to their English way of life. Poor Barbara, the daughter, is forced to live up to their expectations, not really getting out much. Their son Simon mostly hangs out with the locals and the drunken handyman, Bert. But there's a new fella on the scene named Questing. He's a jerk. And Simon suspects that ...more
I found most of the book plodding and by the numbers. As a novel set in New Zealand in the early years of WWII it was interesting; as a murder mystery it needed to be no more than a novella. Almost all the cast of characters are little more than caricatures. I found myself uninterested in or impatient with most of them. The book would probably have been less tortuous to read had Marsh not felt a need to shoehorn Alleyn into an environment where one would not expect him to be given the state of t ...more
Rose Blum
Like a trip to New Zealand :) I really enjoyed this book ~ great characters. Vintage WWII for those who like this time period in history.
[These notes made in 1983:] A nice little mystery puzzle, with a suitably exotic and rather well-described setting in the hot springs area of New Zealand. It takes place in wartime, so the bad guy is not only a murderer but a spy. Two juveniles predictably fall for each other, and there is rather a nice portrait of a Shakespearian actor - all nerves, sensibilities, charm and selfishness. Inspector Alleyn is present for about half the book - in disguise, but easily recognizable to the reader beca ...more
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 ...more
Rita	 Marie
I'm not sure it's fair to call this book a mystery since it lacks many of the elements that are typically considered important for the genre. Yes, there is a somewhat dubious death, but it occurs more than halfway through the book, and we don't really care who did it or why. It's all about the other characters -- how they interrelate and what they are like. A wonderful novel, just not much of a mystery. Quite different -- and in some ways better -- than Marsh's other novels. I've read all her ot ...more
The New Zealand ones are never as good as the England ones. Also, I figured out the twist.
Anne Hawn Smith
Another Agatha Christie! If you like her, you will like this. Another bonus is learning more about New Zealand and hot springs and boiling mud

The story takes place in the hot springs area of New Zealand and surrounds a thoroughly unpleasant man getting murdered by being pushed off the path into boiling mud. There are a number of suspects and a lot of twists and turns. The person who seems to be the logical murderer is, of course, the most likable one.

Ngaio Marsh is a master of mystery and this
Linda Stoner
Delightfully maddening characters, especially when read in the proper accent by Nadia May
eAudiobook borrowed from JoCo Library; read by Nadia May
Marsh was never content to work a formula, and this is rather a departure for her--more a novel about race relations in New Zealand than a mystery. Her skills are fully present, and I sympathize strongly with her views, but this is not the sort of thing I read for entertainment.

Her other mysteries, however, with a few exceptions, I have read and re-read with great enjoyment. Nor is excessive seriousness a notable tendency with her. On the contrary, she at times writes with her tongue discretely
New Zealand; WWII; possible 5th columnists; possible designs of looting Maori relics; pools of boiling mud; nice young lovers; an actor; a sleaze; a drunk; ineffectual former military man; Alleyn in implausible disguise throughout. However, no spinsters. Maybe they do not exist in NZ. Earthy foil to nice young girl is here played by the Maori servant of the household, rather than by rural damsel clearly a cousin of Rosie (as in Cider with), as featured in Off With His Head.
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Dame Ngaio Marsh, born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she was born in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Of all the "Great Ladies" of the English mystery's golden age, including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh
More about Ngaio Marsh...

Other Books in the Series

Roderick Alleyn (1 - 10 of 44 books)
  • A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1)
  • Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2)
  • The Nursing Home Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #3)
  • Death in Ecstasy (Roderick Alleyn, #4)
  • Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5)
  • Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6)
  • Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
  • Overture to Death (Roderick Alleyn, #8)
  • Death at the Bar (Roderick Alleyn, #9)
  • Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10)
A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1) Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7) Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10) Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6) Clutch of Constables (Roderick Alleyn, #25)

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