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Died in the Wool (Roderick Alleyn #13)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,385 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews

One summer evening in 1942, Flossie Rubrick, goes to her husband's wool shed to rehearse a patriotic speech - and disappears. Three weeks later she turns up at an auction, packed inside one of her own bales of wool and very, very dead

Audiobook, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1945)
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Community Reviews

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Sep 15, 2010 Doina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-mystery
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 t ...more
Mar 28, 2010 Surreysmum rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 1985
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2010 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
I've never read any Ngaio Marsh before although I remember my mom reading this author. I found this through an on-line book group on Ravelry and decided to give her books a try.

It's just after World War II, and New Zealand woman, Florence Rubrick has been brutally murdered and her body hidden in a wool bale. Inspector Allyn has been sent out from England to help solve this cold case as there is a suspicion that her death is part of an on-going espionage investigation. I found this novel to be s
May 22, 2010 Mmyoung rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A great improvement on her previous book (Colour Scheme). Marsh was still constrained by the reality of writing a murder mystery in the middle of a war and her need (perhaps thrust upon her by her publishers) to make Alleyn appear in the book. The logic of the book collapses under any serious scrutiny. SPOILER -- as Alleyn's explanation at the end of the book makes clear there were only two people who were ever, serious likely candidates as spies, the authorities knew that, the "secret" at risk ...more
Craig Sisterson
Died in the Wool is one of four Alleyn tales Marsh set in her native New Zealand, and is made even more interesting as it was actually published during the Second World War, and incorporates aspects, issues, and perspectives on the war climate into the murder mystery plotline. Being written before Marsh would have even known when or how the war would end, some of the settings and characterisations can give insights into New Zealand at that time that no recently written historical novel, no matte ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marsh fans, perhaps Marsh newbies, spinners
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Julia
If you're an enthusiast of the fibre arts, particularly spinning, and also enjoy mysteries, this book is a good way to combine the two interests. Set in New Zealand during the Second World War, the plot is a "cold case" of sorts, or at best lukewarm. New Zealand MP Florence "Flossie" Rubrick, whose husband owns a wool operation called Mount Moon, goes into the wool shed to practise a speech, and is never seen alive again. She is found three weeks later at an auction, packed inside a bale of Moun ...more
Nov 07, 2011 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marsh does another classic whodunit with a small family group, many motives, & much opportunity, this time in wartime New Zealand. Somewhat annoying Member of Parliament Florence Rubrick is found after being missing for three weeks - found pressed into a bale of wool produced by her sheep station. Motives abound, with family members & ranch employees alike who had good reason to dislike her, but the impetus to solve it really comes months after the fact: was the death tied to hints of es ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, audio-book
It’s reminiscent of an English country manor mystery, although it takes place on a sheep farm. Florence Rubrick, a member of parliament and the owner of the sheep farm is found murdered after missing for three weeks, encased in a bale of her own wool. Roderick Alleyn, Marsh’s series detective, is called in by a family member to investigate after the local police have gotten nowhere in over a year. Apparently Roderick is a distant relation to the dead woman. Also, he is doing War duty in England ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 10, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in July 1998.

A second wartime Alleyn mystery set in New Zealand (following on from Colour Scheme). The idea that Alleyn was in New Zealand as a counter-intelligence officer rather than a homicide department police officer means that some reason needs to be given for him to investigate a murder. In this case, the security implication is a possible link with an engineering design project under way at a remote sheep-station.

Florence Rubrick was an MP and the wif
World War II rages on, and Inspector Alleyn continues as the Special Branch’s eyes and ears in New Zealand. While his primary brief is spy-catching, he’s also happy to help with old-fashioned policing. Flossie Rubrick, an influential Member of Parliament and the wife of a sheep farmer, is murdered. Had she made political enemies? Had a mysterious legacy prompted her death? Or could the shadowy world of international espionage have intruded on this quiet farm?

I listened to this as an audiobook in
May 10, 2012 JackieB rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was OK, but it was a talking book and I found the narrator distracting. He used very breathy, falsetto voices for the women and that bothered me. Other times when I've lstened to audio books narrated by men, they've raised the pitch of their voice a little bit when reading words spoken by women characters, but not as much as this one did and i think i prefer that approach. It distracted me so much I can't work out how much I enjoyed the plot etc of the book itself. I think if I'd read this ...more
Pleasant. There's better character development here than there is in Agatha Christie's books, but the puzzle wasn't nearly as good. New Zealand wartime setting and Rashomon-like points of view kept this interesting. Was the murder victim a kindhearted feminist, a plodding busybody, or a self-obsessed shrew?

I'm trying to find a replacement for Christie because at some point I will have read all her novels. This is the second Ngaio Marsh I've tried, and neither book has impressed me. Do you have a
Sep 22, 2012 Ali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a summer evening in 1942 in New Zealand a formidable woman MP Florence (Flossie) Rubrick walks through the grounds of her home on a famous sheep farm, to the wool shed to practise her forthcoming speech. No one sees her again. Three weeks later she turns up at a wool auction, gruesomely packed tightly into a bale of wool.
A year later, Flossie’s husband’s nephew Fabian Losse asks Roderick Alleyn - who is in New Zealand to undertake investigations for the government – to look again at the case.
Jan 16, 2013 Sunsettowers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, ngaio-marsh

While an unusual novel for Marsh in that it is both a murder mystery and a spy story, Died in the Wool has all the wonderful typical components of Marsh's work-a secluded estate, a cast of complex characters, twists and turns, and the fantastic Inspector Alleyn.

Alleyn has been called to the scene of the crime a year after the murder occurred. It is wartime, and while Alleyn is obstentiously there to seek out the spy in their midst, he is also there to figure out who stuffed and pressed a woman's
Barrette Plett
May 24, 2013 Barrette Plett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barrette by: Whodunit? Mystery Bookstore
The first half of the book really drags. The second half is a can't put down page turner. I'm going to try another Ngaio Marsh book before writing her off, but I'm not sure I want to go through this experience again -- slogging through 100 pages because I wanted to "give it a chance" and then losing sleep because I couldn't put it down for the last 100 pages... ;)

In the end, it's a clever, tricky, surprising mystery, with much misdirection and an interesting (and surprising) "reveal" at the end.
Jun 06, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this first many years ago. Maybe fifty? Yikes. I remembered how the body was discovered, in a bale of wool. I remembered that Roderick Alleyn was the Scotland Yard detective who went to New Zealand to investigate. The rest I did not remember. Only that I liked it, as I tend to like all Marsh's mysteries.

Alleyn is called in somewhat unofficially by the owner of property where a woman was killed. The local police force had worked on the case a year ago and had not been able to solve it. Aft
I actually finished listening to this over a week ago but commenting now. I definitely give the author props for the way she varies her plots for this series. For the majority of the time, this book dwells on one evening of informal discussion allowing four main suspects to share their own impressions and recollections of a year-old crime. On the other hand, her sets of characters are feeling a bit formulaic as I work through the Alleyn series. Still, I find them to be enjoyable commuting listen ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Harriet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. It doesn't matter how many clues the author leaves, I always fail to spot the motive and murderer. With her eye for detail, she effortlessly allows the reader to enter into the world of the 1930s. Inspector Alleyn is an attractive character and as the books progress, it is very enjoyable to find out more about his background, family and wife. I'm steadily reading my way through all in the series and I'm not looking forward to the moment when I have finished them. They are interes ...more
Kiera Healy
Aug 17, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this one, which was a pleasant deviation from the increasingly standard formula of Marsh's novels. Typically, there is a lengthy build-up, a murder at the halfway point, and the dramatic appearance of Alleyn in the final act. Here, though, we are dealing with murder in retrospect: Alleyn is there from the start, piecing together the mystery by interviewing all the inhabitants of the dead woman's sheep station (as I believe our Antipodean friends call them).

It's a nice change, and the dev
Victoria Miller
Sep 02, 2014 Victoria Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Has the most insidious manner of hiding the body of any mystery I've ever read.
Sep 08, 2014 Hope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark & intense Alleyn mystery, set in Marsh's native New Zealand during WWII. Alleyn, working for British intelligence in wartime, is asked to investigate the gruesome death of a female MP, whose body was found pressed into a bale of wool from her remote sheep farm. Was she killed because she was investigating potential spies or because of something more prosaic?

The setting here is evocative and the plot effective and creepy. Marsh is really underrated, which I suspect is because Alleyn is
Nancy Butts
Jun 05, 2015 Nancy Butts rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Book 13, and the last one set fully in New Zealand. It is famous because of the gruesome way the murderer disposed of the body: by compressing into a bale of wool. Although I love the South Island scenery, this is not my favorite Marsh novel, mainly because so much of it is exposition in long chapters of flashback from various suspects. Marsh was trying something different here. Usually she lets readers get to know the victim for several chapters before she bumps him or her off. This time, the v ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ngaio Marsh is an author I first heard about in P.D. James's book Talking About Detective Fiction...and it's taken me this long to get over Talking About Detective Fiction (seriously...if you haven't read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, don't even go there). But I never forgot the name, nor the title Died in the Wool, which, as you might expect, is a murder mystery set on a sheep station in New Zealand. After so much Lord Peter Wimsey, the fact is that I found this book a little humorless. Granted, ...more
Maria Thermann
Aug 25, 2015 Maria Thermann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic whodunit set in 1942, Ngaio Marsh's novel is set in New Zealand on a remote farmstead on a plateau of outstanding natural beauty. As a special investigator dealing with counter-espionage in WWII, Inspector Alleyn is called in more than a year after the murder of 47-year-old Flossie Rubrick has been committed. As a rich, formidable woman and female MP, Flossie wielded quite a lot of power over her household, farm and constituency. Plenty of people held a grudge and had motive to do her ...more
This is not one of the best of the series. It starts out well, with a missing woman's body found in a bale of wool. Alleyn goes to the scene, and then... Everyone talks. They take turns talking. And talk some more. I can see how this book would be fun to write - Marsh is clearly enjoying showing her victim from different perspectives using the witnesses own words. But I found the first half dull to read. I kept hoping they'd stop talking and do something exciting - like take a walk or something. ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daisy Madder
A particularly ingenious method of body disposal, and a fascinating insight into the mid-war period (the book being written and published before the war was over), and yet something about it just failed to click properly with me- partly that none of the characters seemed particularly sympathetic, and also, and also, I think, I'm missing Br'er Fox and the rest of Alleyn's regular police helpers. Thankfully, Marsh moves Allyen back to England after this one, so the latter of those complaints, at l ...more
May 07, 2016 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, audio, 1940s
Serial fiction written during The War is often more interesting as social document than as fiction. This episode of Marsh's series has a few things going for it, though. It's always kind of fun when she gets to actually bring her show to New Zealand, and the intense remoteness of the sheep-station setting helps her keep tight control over a short list of suspects. Plus, this is a novel with a very lively corpse -- she's dead for the bulk of the book, but the late departed is a real larger-than-l ...more
Madhulika Liddle
Early 1942. South Island, New Zealand. A wool buyer smells a rat—or is it? When a stinking bale of wool is opened up, it reveals a horrible secret: stuffed inside it is the body of Florence ‘Flossie’ Rubrick, go-getting sheep-owner, MP, lady of the manor (Mount Moon, near the Moon River), and benefactor of so many…

… but Roderick Alleyn, sent from England to investigate the case (since it may be connected to possible espionage) finds that Flossie’s generosity may not have been utterly unadulterat
Sashankh Kale
Sep 28, 2016 Sashankh Kale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Marsh. Quite nice.
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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 32 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)

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