Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5)” as Want to Read:
Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn #5)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,837 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Death served well-chilled

The leading lady of a theater company touring New Zealand was stunningly beautiful. No one-including her lover-understood why she married the company's pudgy producer. But did she rig a huge jeroboam of champagne to kill her husband during a cast party?

Did her sweetheart? Or was another villain waiting in the wings? On a holiday down under, Inspect
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 15th 1999 by Minotaur Books (first published 1937)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Vintage Murder, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Krazykiwi Some info is imported via automated data feeds from the publishers and from Amazon. And yes, we check, when someone reports that info is wrong in the…moreSome info is imported via automated data feeds from the publishers and from Amazon. And yes, we check, when someone reports that info is wrong in the right place (i.e. the librarians group, where people who can fix it hang out.) Info from the data feeds doesn't overwrite data corrected by a human either, so once fixed, it should stay fixed.

But there's over a billion books on GR, do you really think the (volunteer) librarians can or have checked every bit of data?

In future, report it in the right place (or use the 'contact us' link at the bottom of the page if you don't want to join a group). It's pretty remarkable really, that a librarian happened by this very book a day after you posted the question.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 07, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of good writing, classic detective fiction, anglophiles
Recommended to Sara by: Me - I used to read her years ago, had forgotten how good she is!
A nicely plotted murder, with a satisfying number of red herrings and some fun theatrical characters!
The thing about Marsh is, she really could write. And she knew her theater inside out, and liked the right stuff.

For instance, this quote: "when he spoke, one forgot his age, for his voice was quite beautiful: deep, and exquisitely modulated. He was one of that company of old actors that are only found in the West End of London. They still believe in using their voices as instruments, they spea
Jan 31, 2017 Patricio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know Ngaio Marsh before I read Vintage Muder. This book is a classic enthralling crime story that Agatha Christie's fans will enjoy.

Roderick Alleyn is on vacation in New Zealand, and on the train he meets an English theater company who's in a tour in the same country.
After their debut play, in Carolyn's birthday party, her husband Alfred Meyer, is hit by a champagne bottle and he dies.

Honestly, when I read the book's synopsis for the first time, I thought it would be stupid but I had a
Dec 19, 2009 Yngvild rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, detective
Vintage Murder is one of four Ngaio Marsh murder mysteries set in New Zealand, although there is little to show that. A Maori doctor and a couple of local policemen have walk-on parts, and there is a very nice account of a picnic trip Commander Dalgliesh takes into the countryside as part of his holiday. Other than that, the characters are all members of an English acting company touring New Zealand. The story might as well be set in Bournemouth.

The pleasure in this story is Ngaio Marsh’s descr
Feb 04, 2015 Sharla rated it really liked it
This book involves two things particularly close to the heart of Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand and the theatre. Perhaps that is why Vintage Murder seems to have extra depth and was such a pleasure to read. The mystery itself and the plot were nothing terribly special but the setting and the characters were a joy.
Elena Santangelo
This was basically a police procedural--that is, the detective goes around interviewing suspects and witnesses, and collecting evidence and not much else. There isn't much action, and most of what there is takes places off stage (if you'll pardon the expression, since most of the characters are actors and much of the setting is in a theater). But anyway, if you like action in your mysteries, this one probably isn't for you. The general setting is New Zealand, though apart from one Maori characte ...more
Puzzle Doctor
Apr 07, 2017 Puzzle Doctor rated it it was ok
Dull entry in the mystery series. Not worth your time. Full review at
Lynnee Argabright
This was a delightful, chatty little mystery book, written by Ngaio Marsh, who, in my impression, must be New Zealand's version of frequent-writing and famous Agatha Christie. The book had English and New Zealand characters, so I got to hear their slang expressions (slang from 1937, ha!) as well as the funny inner thoughts of the English narrator reacting to the oddities of his New Zealand peers. The writing style felt very laid back, like I was watching a 1940s movie; I practically read everyth ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Nikki rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, crime
As with the other books, this is a nice little mystery with a carefully set up puzzle. It relies on all sorts of coincidence and such, but at least we're seeing more of Alleyn as a person, and the omnipresent Nigel Bathgate has not contrived to get himself into Alleyn's pocket for his holiday.

From what I gather, the setting here is close to Marsh's heart in two ways: it's set in New Zealand, and in the context of a theatrical company. That gives it some good moments of description: there's one i
Dec 28, 2009 Starfish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, mystery
I'm not sure whether this is excitement at the discovery of a mystery that has all the elements I enjoy in a Golden Age whodunnit, or gratitude to Marsh for writing about New Zealand in a way, that if self-conscious, is understandably so, and reminds me of an era I never knew, but is engrained in me as much as any part of New Zealand is -- which sounds affected and makes no sense, but there you are. There's just something about reading Ngaio Marsh talk about New Zealand that makes me nostalgic f ...more
Nov 15, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it
In this book, Roderick Alleyn is in New Zealand for a medical rest (although the problem is never specified), and he gets involved with a murder in a traveling British theater troop he has met on the train. A bit more humor is present, both in Alleyn's internal thoughts and with issues between the locals and the Brits in the terminology they each use. One of the characters from the first theater mystery involving Alleyn is also in this group.

Alleyn, for the second time in the first 5 novels of
Nancy Ellis
Feb 26, 2015 Nancy Ellis rated it it was ok
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed several of the Roderick Alleyn mysteries, so I was quite disappointed with this one. It's extremely slow and dull, with totally boring characters. )Granted, Alleyn is on holiday, but that doesn't mean the book has to be boring.) I realize it was written in completely different times, and the style is not quite what we're used to in books now, but this didn't even measure up to her other books. That won't keep me, though, from continuing to read her books!
Aug 01, 2016 Andree rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
3.5 stars, rounding up. This one was solid. I enjoyed the New Zealand setting. The touring theatre group was interesting. I did not necessarily miss Mr. Nigel Bathgate. I did find that there was a touch too much fangirling around Alleyn by the local police force, but I suppose if he is supposed to be super famous and successful, perhaps...

Anyway, it's reasonably well written and I enjoyed it.
Amy Paulussen
Aug 21, 2015 Amy Paulussen rated it really liked it
Loved the setting, but lost track of some of the cast of characters for most of it. Lots of talk, but fun to listen to, with the local slang and then the period-language. Great theatre detail and gorgeous landscapes without being a NZ postcard. Some interesting race stuff in there, and very much of-the-time. It's the first Ngaio Marsh I've read and I'll definitely read more.
Sep 03, 2008 CLM rated it really liked it
My favorite Marsh titles are the ones, like this, with a theatre setting.
Jan 23, 2017 Sarah rated it liked it
Marsh had to send Alleyn to New Zealand in order to be rid of Nigel Bathgate. It was worth it, though her authorial voice takes on some alarming swerves when she starts talking about birds and trees and nature.

Also there's the bizarre treatment of New Zealand racism. New Zealand doesn't have racism! they just...uh... have a completely different thing that's racism and therefore it does not exist!

Best character: Bob Parsons, former professional whistler and Child Wonder.
Best word: jeroboam!
Jenn Estepp
Somewhat surprised to get another theater-set mystery, so soon after the last, but I guess I really shouldn't be given Marsh's personal history. This one felt a little muddled and I wish that some of the characters had been a little more distinct. But, I did really like that it was New Zealand set and there was a peek at transitional/Maori culture - although a very, of it's time Colonial peek, which would probably raise some objections.
Oct 26, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started out so well, an atmospheric late night train journey with a motley assembly of characters. Once they disembark however it becomes a bit dull. Just had to keep going to find out who did it.
Cynthia Dunn
May 11, 2017 Cynthia Dunn rated it liked it
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in March 1998.

This is one of Ngaio Marsh's best crime novels, and was the fifth to feature Roderick Alleyn as the detective. He is travelling in New Zealand on holiday, and meets up with a touring theatre company from England. At a birthday party in honour of the leading lady, her husband is killed when a surprise he had planned goes horribly wrong: a jeroboam of champagne which should have lowered from above the stage to land in a nest of ferns in front of h
Kiera Healy
Jun 12, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it liked it
This is the best Marsh that I've read so far, although it's still not without problems. In this one, Inspector Alleyn is on holiday (so thankfully rid of the annoying Nigel Bathgate) in Marsh's native New Zealand. There are a lot of nice touches that stem from Marsh's love of her country: the dialogue is peppered with "good-oh" and "dinkum", there's a sly comment or two about how New Zealanders hate being mistaken for Aussies, and there's quite a bit about Maori culture, which I appreciated. Tha ...more
Sep 20, 2016 William rated it really liked it
One of the best of Marsh's earliest works. It's the fifth of the first seven that I have read, and seems like an improved version of "Enter a Murderer, which I think was #3. There are several parallels to that earlier book: a lot of characters (22 are of consequence), a continuing character (Susan Max), a theater troupe and another ingenious murder. (yes, it's far-fetched, but one can suspend disbelief to make a murder plot work). But two things have been remedied: there is a character list, to ...more
1937, #5 Roderick Alleyn, CID, on holiday in New Zealand; cosy police procedural, theatrical, classic.

A nice little man dies a horrible death as he attempts a surprise gift for his beloved wife, lead actress in his touring company of Artistes. Death in the theater, as only Dame Ngaio can do it, plus some lovely comments on life in NZ. Her obvious affection for NZ, and her simultaneous enjoyment of artistic types and annoyance with them, all shine through, in this tightly woven, well-plotted tal
2.5 stars

Vintage Murder was told in third person although it focused heavily on Roderick Alleyn, who was on holiday after a major operation. The setting was New Zealand but the majority of the casts were English except for the detectives investigating the case and Doctor Te Pokiha. The scenery description was good and you could feel the authenticity. Also, the slang and phraseology used by the people of New Zealand were frequently shown here. After all, the author was a native New Zealander. It
Jan 12, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, early Inspector Alleyn mystery. The inspector is on holiday in New Zealand, and finds himself traveling by train with an English theater troupe, and decamps for a few days in the town in which they are to give their first antipodal performances. When one of the two owners of the company is killed, the inspector, despite his desire to stay out of it, finds himself helping the local police solve the murder.

Great stuff. Alleyn is as always the consumate gentleman detective, and I so like h
Shannon Teper
Dec 30, 2013 Shannon Teper rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-mystery
Vintage Murder was a satisfying who-done-it with an interesting setting (a touring theatre company goes to New Zealand), an unusual method of murder (a gigantic bottle of champagne is rigged to crash down upon the victim's head), and a variety of interesting suspects with enough plausible motives to keep one guessing. To keep up with the characters and their movements, I frequently consulted the handy character list and map of the crime scene at the front of the book, which caused a lot of page ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Lemar rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
How had I missed Ngaio Marsh for so long? It must have been the silent 'g' that hinted at a dry British superiority that in fact could not be further from the truth. This is a hip, funny, clever mystery that takes place in a theater, a setting Marsh knew and brings fully to life. Vintage Murder unfolds in New Zealand. Wikipedia informed me that Marsh was born there so I was intrigued to read the only one of her mysteries set there.

Vintage Murder was written in 1937 and in many instances shows h
Nov 21, 2015 Kerrie rated it really liked it
The action takes place in 1936. Many of the characters talk about the impact of the previous world war, and there is a sense of another war to come.

Ngaio Marsh drew heavily on her theatrical background for this plot. Roderick Alleyn has come to New Zealand for a holiday, and finds himself travelling on a train with a British touring theatre company. He finds he actually knows two of the female actors. The manager tells everyone that someone has tried to push him off the train.

The company gets of
This is the first book of the series to take place in the author's home country of New Zealand, though it gives the reader less feel for the country than the later books. Instead we get a detailed look into the world of the theater, where Marsh was also at home. A fun touch for those reading the series in order is the return of Susan Max from Enter a Murderer, the #2 book.

No one could ever accuse Marsh of not playing fair with the reader when it comes to her mysteries. All the details you need t
This was above average Marsh. Inspector Alleyn is on vacation, following a sick leave from Scotland Yard, it's hinted that he had a surgery of some sort. New Zealand is the place, Marsh knows it pretty well since it's her country where a Theater Company on tour finds itself with a huge problem. The Company's manager dies after getting bashed on the head with a vintage champagne bottle. Alleyn tries to play it safe and not interfere with the local investigation but once a detective always a detec ...more
P.D.R. Lindsay
Jan 18, 2013 P.D.R. Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
I love the old school, the original writers of whodunits. Ngaio Marsh is an excellent wordsmith, creates tricky whodunit plots and Roderick (Rory) Alleyn is a delightful character.

'Vintage murder' is one of her early novels and is a charming read. Sex is very properly not mentioned, gentlemen tip their hats to ladies, and cads and bounders abound. It's a stylish novel of its time yet enjoyable today.

On holiday in New Zealand Rory meets up with a theatre group from the UK doing a tour of New Zea
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dancers in Mourning (Albert Campion Mystery #9)
  • The Case Is Closed (Miss Silver, #2)
  • The Unfinished Clue
  • The Documents in the Case
  • To Love and Be Wise (Inspector Alan Grant, #4)
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)
  • 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)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“There are people to whom one need not show off. It’s a great comfort sometimes.” 5 likes
“can remember. How did it” 0 likes
More quotes…