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Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn #32)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,274 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews

"Is this a dagger which I see before me..."

Four murders. Three witches. A fiendish lady. A homicidal husband. A ghost. No wonder Macbeth is considered such bad luck by theatre people that they won't mention its name out loud. But the new London production of "the Scottish play" promises to be a smash until gruesome pranks begin plaguing rehearsals. And when the last act e

Hardcover, 232 pages
Published November 1982 by Little Brown Co (T) (first published 1982)
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Simon Mcleish
May 21, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 1999.

It is perhaps fitting that Ngaio Marsh's last novel should have a theatrical setting, given the importance of the theatre in her life. (Symmetrically, her first novel, Enter A Murderer, is also set in a theatre during a production of Macbeth.) It does use the hoary old device of the acted death of a character turning out to be a real killing of the actor, one which she herself has used at least three times, but the story is well enough written
Mar 26, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
This discard from the public library was a serendipitous choice. I was glad I decided to take this enjoyable novel home with me. This, the last work of Dame Ngaio, was a murder mystery involving a theater company presenting a production of Macbeth. For all of Part 1, the book showed in detail how a theatrical production is put together from its earliest stages of reading, blocking, lighting, props management, through rehearsals, to final, polished performance. We glimpse some of a director's ide ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Wendy rated it liked it
This book was well on its way to 4 stars until the ending, where I thought it fell off a bit. It was listed as a related reading in our school textbook next to Macbeth, described as a murder mystery involving a production of that play. It took some searching to find it, but I'm glad I did.

The action centers around the Dolphin Theater, where director Peregrine Jay is assembling what critics will call a flawless production of "the Scottish play." He doesn't believe in the bad karma that supposedl
Sep 28, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light Thickens is Ngaio Marsh's last book. It's a long 20 year sequel to Death at the Dolphin. Wiki states "that the subject was close to the author's heart and in 1981 she wrote to her close friends Maureen (née Rhodes) and John Balfour that the novel had been in her mind for a long time, was 'hell' to write and would, she thought, appeal to theatre people rather than to her usual fans. Her characteristic modesty proved her wrong, as the novel sold extremely well, receiving especially favourabl ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Hannah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The theatre aspect was interesting, particularly to readers like me who know little about stage workings or Macbeth superstitions. Having studied the play briefly in high school and disliked it, I was surprised to find myself quite interested in the characters, both in their roles and out of them. Ngaio Marsh did a great job of making the play seem exciting even to those who're largely uninterested in it.

However, I found the mystery aspect of it rather underwelming. For someone who is advertised
Sep 06, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dame Ngaio"s last Alleyn mystery interweaves scenes from the "Scottish play" with a contemporary
theatrical murder. As a producer in her day job., she knows whereof she writes. Marsh is not as hard on the brain cells as Sayers; I enjoy her more than Christie. A fine mystery.
Oct 03, 2009 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dame Ngaio Marsh was an actress, playwright, and theatre producer, now best known for her mystery novels. This murder mystery features Peregrine Jay, a theatre producer at London’s Dolphin Theatre.

Light Thickens was Marsh’s last book, published posthumously. The murder in the book takes place during a production of Macbeth.

What distinguishes this book is the author’s intense admiration for Shakespeare and the theatre. As you read, you find out what it is like to choose a cast and direct a play.
Sep 10, 2014 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014, mystery
During a production of Macbeth, superstitions about the play lead to various strange and unlucky things happening backstage, eventually culminating in the murder of the lead actor. The mystery itself is extremely lacking (who did it? The crazy guy! Why? Because he's crazy! Aren't you shocked and stunned by this revelation?), but it doesn't matter much because clearly this book is way more interested in the details of preparing a theatrical production – the murder doesn't even happen until about ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Ngaio Marsh has a very interesting style in that we don't meet the detective until well over halfway through the book. Well, we have a fleeting introduction but it isn't until page 151 that he really arrives on the scene, and then the murder is on page 157.

The setting is a London theatre putting on a production of Macbeth. Now apparently this is known as an unlucky play, so we have tension between the superstitious and the not, with an unscrupulous character playing on it. We also have a distinc
One thing you can say for Ngaio Marsh's books - they're not all the same. This, her final novel, is completely set in the theater and the first half of the book is consumed with the rehearsal of MacBeth. There are the usual well-drawn characters, but no real mystery till past the half-way point. I didn't mind but I suspect some people will get impatient. Marsh knew the theater well, and having directed MacBeth, she lets the reader feel as if they're part of the cast. (I'd love to see a productio ...more
Nancy Wilson
This is supposedly the last book that Marsh wrote and I can't help but wonder if someone finished it for her. This book was tedious and the murder while fully anticipated was still out of left field. What I mean is from the beginning of the book which focuses on Shakespeare's Macbeth, the when and the with what are obvious. The who and the why are the only questions and sadly they remain the questions after the fact. So much attention is devoted to the play and the production of it the villain i ...more
Dec 30, 2016 Sharla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot centers around a performance of Shakespeare's great drama, Macbeth. I think Ngaio Marsh has attempted to build suspense in this story in the same way suspense and tension build in the play. I think she has succeeded. This is her last book and the setting is a familiar one, the Dolphin Theater, which we know from Killer Dolphin earlier in the series. It's a fitting farewell to our journey with Roderick Alleyn.
Jul 07, 2012 Shireen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, 2012
I read most of Marsh's books a long, long time ago. So this was a reread. I seem to recall enjoying her books more than I do now. This is one for theatre buffs or Macbeth fans. The mystery is transparent. The whole thing skims like a throwaway line in a play, the kind of thing good for a weekend when thinking is not allowed and dozing is the order of the day. The strange thing about this book was the copyright said 1982, yet the whole thing read like a 1930s novel.
Jul 14, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
So much fun. The eccentric theatrical setting, the creepy manifestations of the curse of MacBeth (or is it?), the charmingly grisly murder -- all delicious. It doubtless helps to have a comfortable familiarity with Macbeth.
Morgan McGuire
Dec 18, 2016 Morgan McGuire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My only regret in reading Light Thickens is that it is the final novel by Ngaio Marsh. A fitting end to her series. There's more novel and less mystery in this one, but it mostly returns to where we started: London, Fox and Alleyn, and theatre, with cameos by elements of the other novels.
Meh. Took much too long to get to the actual mystery.
Gillian Kevern
This is my favourite Ngaio Marsh, and part of the reason is that it doesn't follow the usual pattern of detective novels. Almost two-thirds of the novel is the story of a play. Ngaio Marsh is as well known in NZ for her patronage of drama as she is her detective fiction, and she was an enthusiastic actor, set designer and director in her youth. Her love for theatre and knowledge of the dramatic world really fed into the book. I got really invested in the behind-the-scenes information, the castin ...more
Kimberly Ann
Ngaio Marsh was a contemporary of Agatha Christie & Margery Allingham... there was fierce competition in the ability to write a literary mystery... one that would appeal to the more educated society as well.... and here we have one revolving the production of Macbeth.

So far.... this book begins with the rehearsal of the Shakespearean play Macbeth. We are getting to know the actors their pasts, relationships w/ the other cast members.....and personally, I just might be able to live without th
Oct 11, 2016 Damaskcat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dolphin Theatre is the setting for this hugely atmospheric crime story. Peregrine Jay is putting on a new production of Macbeth. The play is famously plagued by strange occurrences and Jay is determined to eradicate the irrational from the rehearsal and the performance, though some of his cast members prefer not to ignore the play's strange history. Once rehearsals get underway it is clear there are tensions between the cast members and in spite of Jay's best efforts strange things do start ...more
Rog Harrison
I actually read this as part of the omnibus containing "Photo finish" and "Black beech & honeydew". I first read this when it came out but although I have read many of the author's books several times this is only the second time I have read this. I seem to recall that when I first read this that there was a foreword by the author saying that she had been more interested in how Macbeth should be directed than the story but my memory may be playing tricks. Certainly I vividly recalled reading ...more
I do like a good mystery, and Ngaio Marsh delivers in her Inspector Alleyn books. Light Thickens is set in a London theatre company's production of The Scottish Play, that is, Macbeth. There are some mysterious doings around the play, leading to more skittishness than usual among the actors. The leading man is killed at the end of a performance while Inspector Alleyn is sitting in the third row, and it's up to him to prove that the murder was *not* a supernatural happening.

This particular whodu
Jul 11, 2008 jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library-book
Another "man killed during play, however did it happen" mystery from Ngaio Marsh. The murder and aftermath were pretty boring and predictable, but the first half of the book, leading up to the murder, was really well done. I find I tend to prefer Marsh's set up to the denouement. This was a particularly weak resolution; apparently this was her last novel, so maybe she was out of ideas.
The characters and setting she created were still excellent and interesting. It was set in a production of Macb
MaryJo Dawson
Apr 15, 2013 MaryJo Dawson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had read all of Marsh's mysteries featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn, but I missed this one; one of the, if not, the last.
It was totally up to her best standards, a very enjoyable read.
One must keep in mind the gendre and the era in which Marsh wrote - even this one takes place decades ago. Some readers may not enjoy these old timie stories taking place in London, and if so
they might not agree with my rating. It would be difficult to argue, though, with the author's gift
for detail a
Rupert Gilliand
Jun 05, 2008 Rupert Gilliand rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Recommended to Rupert by: Kathleen Dixon
I will start by saying that I enjoyed this novel more as a behind-the-scenes look at a production of Macbeth (my apologies 'the Scottish play') than as a mystery/whodunnit.

Marsh's writing is clear, her characters are well-imagined and the stage is well set for the crime to occur. The Chief Inspector does not arrive until after the murder -naturally- but that murder will not happen until well through the book.

As a personal note I would have preferred if the plot of Light Thickens had made its wa
Jan 10, 2010 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because this mystery revolves around The Scottish Play (I may not be superstitious but after reading this book, why take a chance) the fact that it was published nearly 30 years ago doesn't date the story. The fact that it was printed in itty-bitty type does. This is Marsh's last book and while Roderick Alleyn plays a role, he doesn't come into the story until after the halfway mark. Peregrine Jay is the director of the Dolphin Theatre which is putting on the play. The cast is set but like any g ...more
Oct 28, 2014 Alger rated it liked it
A non-challenging addition to the murder mystery shelf.

Enjoyable as all Marsh novels are. Nostalgic, given that this is a 1982 publication yet the action all could have taken place just as comfortably and without editing in 1955. Plot-driven rather than mystery-driven, one really feels that what Marsh really wanted to tell us about was her ideal production of Macbeth.

On the whole this effort is a readable, and short farewell tour for Inspector Alleyn and Braer Fox sweetened with a bloody behea
Nancy Butts
Feb 06, 2017 Nancy Butts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The 32nd and final book in the Alleyn series, and it makes me sad to read it and say good-bye to the series. It’s set once again at the Dolphin Theatre, just like Killer Dolphin. It even brings back several of the characters from that novel, but this time the play is Macbeth, and of course, it proves just as unlucky to one poor victim as theater superstition claims.
Jan 20, 2010 Starfish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, mystery
I really loved this. What sets it apart from other murder mysteries is that until page 132, it is a story about a play. Not until we get to Curtain Call, the part two of the novel, does it become a murder -- and I care more about the success of the play and the effort invested in it than I do about who is going to be murdered and why. Ngaio Marsh does her usual fabulous job of making the theatre come to life and I really enjoy her use of small justices. This is Peregrine's story more than Alleyn ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Sherrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
The mystery centers around a production of "Macbeth" at the Dolphin Theater in London. During a performance attended by Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn, a grisly murder involving a ceremonial sword occurs just before the final curtain. If you like cozy mysteries with mostly pleasant characters, you'll enjoy this mystery. This is my first book from this author. I'll be reading more of her books, I really enjoyed it.
Jan 17, 2011 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Marsh cozy made me want to read Macbeth. Then read it again. If nothing else, that makes this a mystery worth reading.

Marsh's last mystery. Brings back some characters from Killer Dolphin (Death at the Dolphin in the UK). The murder itself doesn't happen until the final 50 or so pages. But, as I say again and again, who the hell cares? Excellent writing, intriguing characterization and, bonus, makes one feel more literate about that Scottish play.
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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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