Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10)
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Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn #10)

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  4,113 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Murder becomes a family affair...

The Lampreys were a charming, eccentric happy-go-lucky family, teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Until the gruesome murder of their uncle-and unpleasant Marquis, who met his untimely death while leaving the Lamprey flat-left them with a fortune. Now it's up to Inspector Roderick Alleyn to sift through the alibis to discover which Lam...more
Published March 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1940)
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The Best British Crime/Mystery Fiction
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A prime example of the Golden Age Mystery from Britain between the wars. Pull out the whole standard toolkit: A slightly-threadbare, to-the-manor-born family finds that being bankrupt puts a real strain on the entire dotty household- Lady, Lord, bairns, domestics, butler & chauffer. Even the usual bracing round of Charades won't lift the gloom. An inconvenient and nasty murder disrupts the disruptions already at hand, the Yard investigates with eyebrow raised, and suspicions fly. Add some th...more
Now there is something about a nice bit of vintage murder that is ever so slightly comforting, now I can’t say I have ever understood why this should be so – but it does seem to be the case for many readers. I love Agatha Christie – I have loved her forever, and remain a staunch fan, however, I wonder if Ngaio Marsh wasn’t a rather better writer. I discovered Marsh much later than Christie, and those novels I have read have been consistently good. Chief Inspector Alleyn and his trusty Inspector...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in June 1998.

This is one of my least favourite Ngaio Marsh novels. The crime is puzzling enough and the solution typically ingenious, and Roderick Alleyn is his usual urbane self; the problem is that I find it impossible to have any sympathy for the family at the centre of the story, the Lampreys.

The Lampreys are an upper class family always suffering from financial crises, yet unable to work or to save because of their frivolous background. Marsh keeps on e...more
Graham Powell
Ngaio Marsh writes in a more verbose and literary style than most of the writers I read, and after 25 pages I was sure I would give up on this book, but I'm glad I didn't. Not much happens, and at great length, but this was the most engrossing book I've read in a long time.

The plot is simple: the Lampreys are the junior branch of a noble English family, and though they are generous, and funny, and caring, and more than a little odd, they are also a bit careless when it comes to money. Now a comb...more
A definitive list of the best golden age detectives:

1. Miss Marple
2. Lord Peter Wimsy
3. Hercule Poirot
4. Assorted other Agatha Christie detectives EXCEPT for Tommy and Tuppence who I pretend don't exist
5. Alfred Campion
6. Inspector Alleyn
7. Inspector Grant

Though both Alleyn and Grant are gentleman detectives (which everyone knows are the best kind), Alleyn seems a little more aristo and my unrepentant snobbishness saves him from being at the very bottom. But it's pretty close.

Mostly becau...more
Thinking myself somewhat of a Golden Age Detective Novel aficionado, I was startled to say the least to only come across Ngaio Marsh a couple of weeks ago and am now working my way through her work. Charming and beautifully written, to the extent where I often find myself smiling with joy at her turn of phrase. Not quite Dorothy L Sayers, but leagues ahead of Agatha Christie. Very warmly recommended indeed.
Still waiting to read the best Ngaio Marsh book. She's good, but seems to lose control of pacing, tone, content in nearly every book of hers. This one starts strong--the comic Lamprey family's early scenes really are comic, she has a good New Zealander character for realistic point of view, and Alleyn and crew are bluff and witty. The murder seems terrifically mysterious, too. There's even a good chilling climactic scene near the end. But the solution is labored and not that believable, and by t...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Lord Wutherford meets a nasty death at the home of the Lampreys.
Another solid example from the golden age of British mysteries.
Carey Combe
One of my favourites
Dana Stabenow
I've been reading some Ngaio Marsh at the instigation of P.D. James' Talking About Detective Fiction. I just finished this one. If you come across a copy, pick it up and turn immediately to page 245. Alleyn stands at the edge of the Thames with a night cop on the beat, in conversation about the play Macbeth. For a page and a half, the night cop dissects the play from a professional perspective ("Not that there seemed to be anything like what you'd call an inquiry."). It is a delightful conversat...more
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Jan 15, 2009 rabbitprincess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: previous experience
I know the saying is "don't judge a book by its cover", but the cover can indicate how low you should keep your expectations of a given book. In this case, we had:

- a spelling error in an endorsement: "Goulish enough to set the blood tingling, the scalp itching with apprehension..." Spelling errors are never a good sign.
- a quote on the back cover featuring an event that does not match the event depicted on the front cover. This is the case with my edition (Fontanta / Collins, Sixth Impression 1...more
Of course, all of Marsh's books have the same protagonist, the very likable Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn, & he is the main reason the story happens. But to me, part of the fun of reading a series like this is meeting the completely new characters in each book, both for themselves & to see how Alleyn interacts with them. The Lamprey family, Alleyn's co-stars in this novel, are among my all-time favorites. An extremely quirky family full of charm headed by an aristocratic younger so...more
William S.
There was much to like about this book, with a dotty charming English aristocratic family, and the sharp Scotland Yard Inspector Alleyn. He's the osrt of fellow who picks up a clue the reader should have seen, but didn't quite get. The murder takes place in a smallish apartment with elevator, and so much of the action is really cerebral - whose story talolies, and whose does not. The only annoying theme was Alleyn's constant referring to Insector Fox as "Brer Fox." which is unprofessional and cu...more
I had never read a Roderick Alleyn mystery by the "Golden Age of Mysteries" writer Ngaio Marsh. In Surfeit of Lampreys, Book #10, I enjoyed reading about the eccentric aristocratic Lamprey family and had not figured out who the murderer was before the ending, but I probably should have started with the first book of the series (which is what I usually do - the better to appreciate the character development as the series progresses). So, I do plan to read more of Marsh's work, I just plan to star...more
This book was originally published under the title A Surfeit of Lampreys which I think is a better title for it. I think this title gives away too much too soon. Much of this story goes on before Alleyn ever turns up, and before there is a murder, so knowing who the victim will be is a bit of a spoiler. Another Marsh book I read was structured this way as well (they may all be, I have only read a couple so far) and I found it a very satisfactory way to structure the story. We don't know who comm...more
Katie Hilton
A very entertaining murder mystery! The crime itself is grisly, but the investigation is offset by Roderick Alleyn's duty to interview numerous members of a very eccentric family. The reader hopes none is guilty because they are rather charming, but somebody killed their unlovable uncle. A good read!
I'm 3/4 of the way through reading through all of Ngaio Marsh's mysteries, which means re-reading the ones I can't quite remember. For Death of a Peer (which I apparently read almost exactly two years ago!), I could remember on my own that it was about a crazy family, but couldn't remember for the life of me whodunit. Which makes a lot of sense, since the crazy family sends Alleyn on a wild good chase after the actual truth. I was pleased to note, though, that I did find the one "aha!" cl...more
Jill Hutchinson
This is one of my favorite Alleyn books. The Lamprey brood, aristocrats teetering on the brink of bankruptcy are in line to inherit a bundle from a much despised older brother. Lo and behold, the brother is murdered in a rather horrific manner and everyone falls under suspicion. Enter "Handsome" Alleyn and his loyal sidekick, Fox, and the chase is on to discover the answer. Mix together a little black magic, a game of charades, and budding romance and you have a cracking tale from one of the mas...more
I find it irritating when a book's title is changed, took me a while to find this on Goodreads. I read the book about 30 years ago and enjoyed it. An ingenious murder, though as others have said the Lampreys were not very sympathetic as a family.
Kiera Healy
I didn't like this one as much as the other Alleyns I've read in the last few weeks. The set-up is great, and I really enjoyed the Lamprey family, who are a ghastly bunch of toffs with neither money nor sense, and reminded me of some posh types I've known (the title of the book is actually A Surfeit of Lampreys, but it was changed, presumably for the less-historically knowledgeable markets out there). But the ending was a real disappointment: I felt it was a bit of a cop-out, and that it could h...more
Safitri Widagdo
the one with a gruesome death and a madwoman in the attic (possibly the only redeeming character of interest)
my copy has the other title on it: A Surfeit of Lampreys
Ita Ryan
I detest Ngaio Marsh's detective, Roderick Alleyn, with his patronising attitude and irritating infallability. However, Marsh has a way of bringing early twentieth-century London to life, and I found myself immersed in this book.
This was my first Ngaio Marsh novel, and I liked it very much. Unfortunately, I liked Henry and Robin (really all the non-police characters) better than Inspector Alleyn. Actually, Alleyn wasn't particularly impressive to me, and he seemed to be a bit of a background character in this. A lot of the children seemed to be a younger than they were supposed to be, which I found really aggravating at first. Robin mentioned that they seemed to have not aged, as she had, and every one of the family age...more
Bit dated yet a good mystery for mystery fans. If you are not familiar with author you will find yourself a new set of cases to solve.
I was waiting for a Christie-esque twist at the end and I didn't get it. I did enjoy Marsh's contemporary style of writing and characterizations. I plan to read more by her in the future.
Srinivas Prasad Veeraraghavan
My first Ngaio Marsh read and for all my expectations, I must confess that it was a rather chastening experience. Well, she sure can write but the plot and the protagonists of this particular novel have utterly failed to engage/amuse/stimulate me in the slightest. Perhaps, she meant it to be that way but after a particularly strong start that is rather cerebral and painstakingly building up tension with morbid attention to detail, the denouement feels flat and clumsy.

Perhaps, things will get be...more
The title alone is awesome...evidently it was originally published in the US as "Death of a Peer" which is decidedly un-awesome. The Lamprey family which is the focus of this Golden Age mystery (Inspector Alleyn series) is one of those charming, eccentric ensemble acts, a bit like something out of Salinger or that Royal Tenenbaums movie, just without the smarts. Poised in an England between the wars, the family is a marginally aristocratic one whose members haven't quite figured out what they wi...more
A classic style mystery set just before WWII. A nearly bankrupt family can be saved from ruin by the death of a relative. He is murdered in a such a way that only the family and servants could have done it.

While I whipped through it quickly to find out who-done-it, I found myself less satisfied than I usually am with this sort of mystery. I think the change is in me and the times. I once could enjoy these English upper-crust mysteries set in times gone by, but with the return of a huge wealth d...more
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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
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