A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1)
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A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  4,967 ratings  ·  190 reviews
At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlor game of "Murder." Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin. Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to find a complete collection of alibis, a missing butler, and an intricate puzzle of betray...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published 2000 by HarperCollins (first published 1934)
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Miriam
Marsh introduced her famous detective in this mystery, and you can tell that she wasn't entirely sure what personality to go with. At times he reads like Wimsey playing a silly ass, at other times he is crude or clever in the manner of a Bright Young Thing; he takes the official police hard-line one moment only to suddenly behave in unprofessional and even inappropriate ways. I suspect she was trying to write realistically complex character, but the overall effect is one of schizophrenia and imp...more
Abbey
BOTTOM LINE: Thoroughly old-fashioned "good read!", with an aristo-detective, all the suspects gathered in A Great House for a weekend house party, a peculiar murder method, wild Bolsheviks complicating everything, family intrigues galore, an affable-but-dim Watson - what's not to like? First mystery novel (1934) from a now-classic author isn't challenging, brilliant, or particularly special, but is still entertaining, giving a hint of her good books yet to come and, as is usual with Marsh, ther...more
Nikki
I'm not wildly enthused about Ngaio Marsh and Inspector Alleyn, at this point. It's a smooth enough read, but the murder is a little haphazardly imagined: some elements of it suggest premeditation, while others suggest a crime of opportunity, but it has to be one or the other or it just doesn't work. Too much depends on opportunity -- the availability of the weapon, the position of the murdered man, the way the murder game turns out -- and yet the rest of it smacks of pre-meditation: the bizarre...more
Wealhtheow
A young reporter is enjoying an upper-class British house party when abruptly, someone is found dead!

I can't say I enjoyed this. There's an entire subplot concerning a Bolshevic satanic cult (?!) (view spoiler) This is the first Inspector Alleyn book, and it's clear that Marsh isn't sure how to write him yet. His personality is all over the place: one moment he's burbling Bright Young Things slang, the next he's cold an...more
Mary Ronan Drew
There is something ineffable about the English mysteries by women from the Golden Age, the 1920s and 30s. The plots are mostly predictable and the characters are seldom real. The setting and the wardrobe contribute, but the reader has to provide the details because the books don't go on much about Art Deco architecture or the fact that the ladies are wearing furs and cloche hats.

Published in 1934, this first of Ngaio Marsh's Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn mysteries, A Man Lay Dead, of...more
Jan C
I didn't remember enjoying her the last time I read Marsh. Maybe I just wasn't ready for her then. Because I really did enjoy this book.j.

It is kind of the reverse of the "locked room" mystery. Here was a man at a country estate weekend party who was murdered out in the open but everybody has an alibi.

I certainly never figured it out.

There was a side story about a Russian brotherhood, presumably an anarchist group, as some of their party had gathered in a house and then blew it up.

I look forward...more
Janne Varvára
Being a bit fuzzy on which John Dickson Carr that was next on my list, I started this, A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh, another golden age crime writer. Until almost at the end, when I looked it up, I thought I was reading a man, when in fact I was reading *Edith* Ngaio Marsh. In the male-centered world that was the first half of the 20th century, and classic crime's golden age, I think there's a lot to be said for being a male writer. I don't know about the name, except that it's Maori for a cert...more
LJ
A MAN LAY DEAD (Police Procedural-England-1930s) – G+
Marsh, Naigo – 1st in series
St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1997
Introducing Inspector Roderick Alleyn, who is called to the country home of Sir Hubert Handesley. Sir Hubert had arranged "The Murder Game" as entertainment for his weekend guests. Unfortunately, someone is playing for real and one of the guests is found dead.
*** This is a good introduction to a delightful series set in the classic English manor house. Marsh takes her reader along not le...more
Jamie
An unremarkable English country house murder mystery. I read this because it's the first book with her recurring detective Roderick Alleyn. He's a poor substitute for Peter Wimsey. I might try one more to see if they get better.
LibraryCin
A group of people are invited to a house party where there will be a game of Murder played. Unfortunately, there ends up being a real murder instead of just a game.

The premise was interesting and the book was o.k. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a tendency to lose interest, so I wasn't able to keep good track of who was who. I found it interesting that the book followed the point of view, not of the inspector (who is apparently featured in a number of books by Marsh), bu...more
Cera
I really loved this for the same reason a lot of people disliked it -- the character of Roderick Alleyn. By making Alleyn a _Scotland Yard_ detective who also seems to be a gentleman, Marsh creates a tension that surfaces throughout the story; the other characters can't decide whether they like him for his gentlemanly qualities or despise him for his professional ones. This is very different from the private gentleman who choses detection as a hobby, such as Sayer's Wimsey, or Christie's Poirot....more
Melissa Proffitt
Not too bad, particularly for a first novel. A Man Lay Dead is one of those lovely 1930s English manor mysteries--or at any rate I think they're lovely, which is probably why I love Downton Abbey so much. A bunch of people are invited to play a game called Murder, in which one of them is secretly assigned the role of murderer (by the butler, and books like this make me wonder how anyone gets by without a butler these days, they do so many things) and must "kill" one of the others, and then the s...more
meeners
everything about this book is clumsy, and the ending is so silly it verges on farce. it might make for a great dinner party conversation and after-dinner reenactment, though. if you could reign in the guffaws. (yes, that's right! GUFFAWS.)

last night instead of concentrating on reading i ended up thinking about what it might be like to encounter the detectives of the golden age of mystery in the 21st century (all steven moffat's fault). so instead of doing a proper review i am going to give you m...more
Gail
A country houseparty with many clever and witty guests convenes at Frantock. Nigel, a young reporter and cousin to the urbane, rich, and not-quite-likable Charles Rankin, attends for the first time. Over cocktails, their host explains the game of Murder they are about to have over a weekend of drinks, food, and laughter. Unfortunately, as the game begins, Charles Rankin is murdered.

Chief Inspector-Detective Roderick Alleyn arrives to investigate. Obviously upper class, he questions the group and...more
Lemar
This is a thoroughly satisfying mystery. I grew up with a Mom who always read mysteries with the most gruesome covers and Ngaio Marsh was a favorite! Now I see why, Her characters have the depth needed to make for a really good mystery. Added to that is an unexpected lightness and wit brought fun in just the right doses and places to a murder mystery.
I am going with 5 stars because she seems to have been a real pioneer from whose work people have been stealing and lifting in much the same way I...more
blindmouse
Golden Age mystery. A Roderick Alleyn book. Nigel Bathgate, a young journalist, is attending one of Sir Hubert Handesley's celebrated house parties for the first time. The entertainment of the party is apparently going to be the parlour game of Murders, and the company is in fine spirits at the notion. But when the gong sounds and the lights go off - the agreed upon signal for the pretended murder - Nigel is the first to reach the light switch, and when he turns it on, the corpse lying at the fo...more
April
I read this book as a part of a reprinting series of vintage mysteries published by Felony and Mayhem. There are some troubling racist and sexist points, but, for the 1930s, when it was published, it was fairly liberal. The story is the key, and it is a great story! Nigel (nowadays, a hero would never be named Nigel) is a journalist who is going to a country house party of a renowned host with his mysterious older cousin Charles, who appears to be having an affair (or have recently ended an affa...more
Book Concierge
2.5**

The first mystery novel by Marsh introduces Inspector Detective Roderick Alleyn. At Sir Hubert Handesley’s country house party, five guests have gathered for a parlor game of “Murder.” It’s all in fun, until the lights come back on and there is an actual corpse. Given the prominence of the household, Scotland Yard is called in. By the time Alleyn arrives from London the victim’s body has been moved, everyone has an alibi, and the butler has gone missing.

I can clearly see how Marsh became k...more
Fanficfan44
Ngaio Marsh’s A Man Lay Dead was first published in 1934. This is the first book in the series that introduces Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn, who is the sleuth. I actually found this book very timely. In current crime fiction and tv shows there is a plethora of references to the Russian Mob and that theme features heavily in this story. It is a classic British “country house” mystery, the group of people gather in an isolated country estate and then a murder occurs. The red herrings are very w...more
Jen
An adorable little first novel by mystery writer Marsh. I wanted to pinch its little cheek. I haven't read any other of her books, but I understand they get better with more sophisticated mysteries. Still, I like to start at the beginning of a series whenever I can, and if I read more Marsh, it'll be nice to see the development of her detective Roderick Alleyn
Jon
I've read a lot of murder mysteries, but this is my first Ngaio Marsh. It is also her first (1934) in the Inspector Alleyn series, and I assume they got better as they went along. It is a classic "country house" mystery with a few cute twists: the guests are all arrived to play a game of murder (!), and there is a nest of half-comic half-serious Russian spies involved. But the solution depended on exact placement of people and objects, none of which were described closely enough to give the read...more
Jason Speck
Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982) was a mystery writer of international fame, and peers with the likes of Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie. A Man Lay Dead was Marsh's first mystery, published in 1934, and the first to feature the intelligent and sardonic Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn. In this initial venture, Alleyn is called to investigate murder at a house party in the country. The guests of Sir Hubert Handesley have been invited down for a weekend of fun and frolic, the cent...more
Yanyuan
Perhaps growing up with Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot has set a certain standard in my mind for detective fiction. There was something about the writing in this book that I did not like. Perhaps it was the narrative perspective, which was third-person limited to Nigel Bathgate, a cousin of the victim and a suspect, instead of to the detective, Inspector Alleyn. Or perhaps it was the way the story unfolded. It was very dull, with barely any suspense or mystery. I didn't care about the death of...more
Laura
The first of Marsh's Alleyn mysteries. Marsh's style is so entrenched in our culture that it's become fodder for so many parodies. I couldn't help but think of the movies Clue or Murder by Death while reading this one. Marsh was a great innovator in 1934, but like most modern readers, I want to know something about the sleuth and am a bit bored of the perfect puzzle with a neat solution. It's hard to imagine her characters as anything other than actors in their part of the play, which given Mars...more
Katherine Rowland
There are some engaging points in this first appearance of Inspector Roderick Alleyn, but the book is a mess. Sadistic secret societies, a pinch of xenophobia, too many coincidences, and a detective who can't seem to decide who he is. Obviously, it had enough potential to draw enough readers to launch Marsh's career, but it's a lousy starting point for anyone trying to decide whether they will read more of her work. Where she's good, she's really good; but this book is just too uneven to enjoy.
Jillian
I really enjoyed Ngaio Marsh's detective stories. (I feel lazy so I'm going to review them all en masse). They are somewhat ludicrous, heavily theatrical, very very easy to read and display a blatant snobbishness that I can totally understand as a fellow antipodean. Thankfully, the cultural cringe doesn't exist like this any more! What really gets me, is the sensitivity that Marsh has for most of her subjects, she really loves actors and the theatre, she really loves New Zealand and has a passio...more
Sorcha
At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlor game of "Murder." Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin. Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to find a complete collection of alibis, a missing butler, and an intricate puzzle of betrayal and sedition in the search for the key player in this deadly game

Cant believe I've read so many Alleyn books, but have tak...more
Ram
Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn is on the hunt for a murderer who has used a house-party theme around murder to stage a real one. A few select guests have been invited to the country estate of Sir Hubert Handesley to take part in one of his unique themed parties. This weekend the theme was murder, except it ends with a very real corpse and a very real dagger pierced through its heart. Alleyn is called in to investigate and gets on with it in his usual disarming manner. But this is not a stra...more
Debbie
A MAN LAY DEAD by Ngaio Marsh (Vintage Mystery Fiction, 1930s England) 3.5 star rating

Somehow, as I was growing up and cutting teeth on Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen, I missed knowing about New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh. I love how the Web has made the world so small! I started to read Marsh with Death of a Fool in January of this year. I was intrigued enough to start at the beginning and find this first in the series (1934) featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn.

I must confess that, although I...more
Nancy Oakes
This book really isn't my favorite Ngaio Marsh mystery. It's understandable that it's not really that good (imho) since it was her first novel and that she was competing with two other mystery greats at the time this was written: Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I know, having read others, that she could and did do much better, so we'll chalk it up to this being her debut.

summary, no spoilers:
Ah! The ever classic English country house murder in all of its glory. At this particular country hou...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
More about Ngaio Marsh...
Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7) Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10) Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6) Clutch of Constables (Roderick Alleyn, #25) Scales of Justice (Roderick Alleyn, #18)

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