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Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn #10)

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  4,727 ratings  ·  81 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
Paperback, 303 pages
Published March 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1940)
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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 & chauffeur. 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 t
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
Another amazing Ngaio Marsh novel. She is a superb writer with such an engaging style. The characters in this novel are so interesting. Another great read!
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
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
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.
By today's standards, there is not much to this story as far as plot is concerned. It relies mostly on character characterizations. If you just want to visit the bored, "life is so tedious," aristocratic characters of the 1930's typical in a lot of the old black and white movies that used to be shown on TV, this isn't bad.
The Lampreys, are a befuddled, amusing, "second son" family who are financially in trouble (again) and may or may not have "done in" their unpleasant uncle, the peer. Their New
Nancy Butts
Book 10, and the first in which the charming but irresponsible Lamprey family appears [what a last name to have; all I could think of was lamprey eels.} In this gruesome mystery there is madness and a touch of witchcraft. Just as the Lampreys are about to fall into poverty, there are "rescued" when Lord Charles comes into a peerage and wealth after his stingy and odious elder brother, a marquis, is skewered through the eye like an unlovely shish kebab. The book begins in New Zealand but quickly ...more
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
Apr 17, 2015 Lara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
I hadn't read Ngaio Marsh's books for a while, and it took me a few chapters to readjust to her style. Then I found myself remembering how much I enjoy her writing. In this story I found myself enjoying the perspective of the young New Zealander woman and her romanticization of the Lampreys. While their behavior would not be entertaining today, for the period they were like a fading glimpse of days gone by. We learn what Alleyn learns and have nearly all the same clues. But, he is more focused o ...more
Sheela Word
4.5 stars. I really like Ngaio Marsh, and "Lampreys" is one of my favorites. What makes this one special (aside from the hideous way in which the victim dies) is the stage-setting. The main protagonist is a young woman in her twenties, recently orphaned, and just arrived in London to stay with some friends -- a large family to whom she has a strong attachment. The murder occurs just a day after her arrival, and almost all of the family members are suspects. Because of what's emotionally at stake ...more
This is my favorite of this series so far... I didn't guess exactly who the killer was though I had the right person, I didn't have how the crime went down and it was a very satisfying mystery. This was a five stars because of the Lampreys (surfeit?! You can never get enough of them!), a very lovable family that has no idea how not to be in debt and whose little economies are worst than not trying to cut on their expenses. (view spoiler) ...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
As a New Zealand schoolgirl, Roberta Grey fell in love with the Lamprey family. Now they're once again in financial straits, and hoping for a loan from Lord Charles' brother. Instead, he is murdered, and all the Lampreys become suspects. Chief Inspector Alleyn is immune to the family charm, as he has oodles to spare of his own. By now, this could almost be considered an historical, as the clouds of World War II gather on the horizon. The characters make this one of my favorite Marsh novels.
Michael K.
In the Golden Age of British mystery writing, the Big Three were Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Ngaio Marsh. I’ve always enjoyed Sayers, though I’ve always found Christie nearly unreadable. But it baffles me that readers today who (like my wife) own all the works of the first two in paperback reprints and reread them regularly often haven’t even heard of Marsh, nor of her protagonist, DCI Roderick “Handsome” Alleyn. And yet, where Lord Peter Wimsey and Miss Marple exist in a sort of cozy f ...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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 and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1) Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7) Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6) Clutch of Constables (Roderick Alleyn, #25) Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2)

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