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

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  6,015 ratings  ·  237 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
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
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
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
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
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
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I really must stop reading mystery series from Book 1, particularly in the case of the "cosies." In those days, the public was far less demanding, and as a first attempt to find a voice, a rhythm and a character, the beginning novel in a series can be unsatisfying. I found this with Patricia Wentworth, and have found it equally true with N. Marsh.

Like the Wimsey and Poirot/Marple series, Marsh's books were directed to a very definite sector of society: educated, middle class people of the sort t
...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
Monica
This is the first book in the series featuring Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn. And what a nice introduction it is. Murder in a country home, a murderer among the guests...whodunnit!

A British mystery is always one of my favourites, and this one doesn't disappoint. There is something about golden age crime novels that make me want to curl up on a rainy day with cat and coffee.
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
Lara
Oct 25, 2014 Lara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I love a country-house murder-mystery, so looking forward to this by one of the queens of crime fiction. Hadn't read her before, and not overly impressed by this first outing. A lack of description, and not much scene-setting, and some daft business with a Bolshevik secret society. But enough of a puzzle that I will probably attempt another.
Jan
Oct 12, 2014 Jan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kindle
I really enjoyed this. It was my first reading of a Marsh novel, having concentrated on Christie in the past. The writing is witty and the characters very believable. Chief Inspector Alleyn is a sharp man who tries to dissemble his cleverness while reading his suspects. I liked him instantly as a character. The crime was a classic - hateful womanising bachelor who has numerous beneficiaries on his death, some of whom have good reason for wanting him dead, attends house party in the country with ...more
Susan
Somewhat dated, but a reminder of what fun a classic British mystery can be.
Michael A
This novel is from golden days of the puzzle mystery and everything about it stinks of the stereotypes of the day. I do find it odd that the blurb on this book is trying to convince me that we should be comparing Christie to Marsh -- while this book is just as good as anything Christie came up with later in her writing career, it can hardly touch Christie at the height of her powers.

Anyhow, this is another one of those 2.5 star books that only gets the bump to up to three because of its cleverne
...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
William
Another entry in the quest for Christie-likes:

Marsh was known as one of the Queens of Crime alongside Christie herself, Dorothy Sayers, and Margery Allingham. I had already read 1-2 entries from Sayers and Allingham and found them capable of adequately aping Christie's style without matching the brilliance of her solutions.

I have found much the same with Marsh, though some caution is in order. A Man Lay Dead was Marsh's first mystery novel, and I have stubbornly clung to the convention of beginn
...more
Laurie
I am rating the quality of this mystery based on the time period in which it was written. The murder certainly occurred in a very improbable way. The murderer had to plan ahead based on the weapon used, the glove to hide fingerprints and the alibi, but the murderer also needed the victim to be standing exactly where he was by the stairs for the murder to work which was not something that could be planned. And yet it all worked out perfectly for the murder to occur and seemingly have no one who c ...more
Phil
Hmmmm - sometimes my predilection to reading established series of books in order of publication can work against me .... the Discworld series, for instance. Because while rock bands tend to burst onto the artistic world in a blaze of glory and often find that their debut album is never bettered, authors often take time to find their voice, find their stride and become the writer that their reputation is built on.

Reading this first of 32 detective stories starring the gentleman detective Inspect
...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
Robyn
Montana Library2Go |

A good book from my favourite period of British mystery fiction, this would be rated higher if it weren't just a bit overstuffed.

I'm glad to have found Marsh, and will certainly continue with other books of hers. The writing is good, characters drawn quickly but well, and the setting was one I liked. It was, however, a short book, read in less than two hours, and still crammed in a love triangle, a murder, a house party in the country, a violent secret Russian brotherhood, t
...more
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68144
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
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More about Ngaio Marsh...

Other Books in the Series

Roderick Alleyn (1 - 10 of 44 books)
  • 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)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
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) Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2)

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