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Black As He's Painted (Roderick Alleyn #28)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  812 ratings  ·  41 reviews

Portrait of a murder...

Superintendent Roderick Alleyn's old school chum whom his wife Troy longs to paint is now President of Ng'ombwana, a brand-new African republic. This handsome, charismatic dictator has enemies of every stripe: from ruddy-faced ex-colonists to new rivals, from dispossessed businessmen to racist crackpots. But when a ceremonial spear deals death at his

Paperback, 223 pages
Published June 1st 1984 by Jove (first published 1973)
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Sam the retired Foreign Service officer and his determinedly rescued cat were charming, but insufficient to make up for the author's and characters' racism. Marsh is considerably less simpatica towards Africans than she is to the Maori who more often appear in her novels. And don't bother jumping in with, "That's just how people were Back Then" because this book wasn't written that long ago. It reminded me a bit of another recent read, Speaker of Mandarin; both are later novels by elderly women ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
If it wasn't for Mr. Whipplestone and Lucy Lockett, I'd give this one in the series two stars. Given our current environment of real terrorism plots, it is an interesting book and to some degree gave me a think on what if a neighbor lived next door that showed some signs of a being part of a conspiracy to do violence.

It's a mildly patronizing plot,and some obviously dislike that tone towards the African characters; but actually, in my opinion, Marsh is consistently patronizing and ironic in eve
I can understand why the Daily Telegraph described this book as the best Ngaio Marsh for a long time because it probably is just that.

A quirky storyline with the President of an African country involved in the murder of one of his household ... but was he, himself, the intended victim? And who would want to kill him as he was only visiting the UK and had no known enemies.

Syuperintendent Roderick Alleyn gets the call, mainly because he was a school chum of the President, who was educated in Engla
P.D.R. Lindsay
I always enjoy rereading this novel as Mr Whipplestone and Lucy are such delightful characters. The plot is a good tight one and I enjoy the usual display of Ms Marsh's writing skills.

The comments by some readers about racism are puzzling. The comments and attitudes of some of the less pleasant characters are still heard today. Just as loudly and nastily.

For Troy and Rory fans the glimpses of their relationship in the novel is another pleasure. Troy the artist is always fun to 'watch'. And Rory
Roderick Alleyn was at school with the current president of Ng’ombwana – nicknamed The Boomer. The President is on a visit to England and staying in his country’s embassy and the powers that be consider his life is at risk. Alleyn and a colleague from Special Branch are tasked with trying to make him abide by security restrictions – which seems like a losing battle at times.

Close to the Embassy there are several suspicious characters including a brother and sister called Sanskrit who make and
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in August 1999.

'The best Ngaio Marsh for a long time' is how the Daily Telegraph greeted the appearance of Black As He's Painted (according to the front cover). By 1975, she have produced quite a long string of disappointing novels, and it wouldn't have taken a great deal to deserve this tag; but in fact Black As He's Painted is one of the best of all Marsh's novels.

The story concerns a visit made by the President of the Commonwealth nation of Ng'omwana, know
My least favorite Marsh book so far. Very dated and rather offensive to modern sensibilities. That said, please don't rewrite it and remove all allusions to the negro race as Marsh describes them; that would be silly. The exploration of prejudice itself is very instructive, even if the mystery wanders over into sensationalism in a very un-Marsh-like way.

As a secondary note, I read the Jove paperback, published in the 70s. Very, very obvious what was selling then; the back cover blurb talks about
Another good Inspector Alleyn mystery; this one involved an African school friend of the detective who went on to become a president/dictator of his emergent nation. I think parts of it would be considered racist by today's overly sensitive standards but Marsh clearly was trying to combat some racist attitudes of her time. Her villains were a sort of Klan group that had it in for people of this imagined African nation and one of the lesser heroes loves the nation, culture, and language. And then ...more
The plot to assassinate the president of Ng'ombwana on his visit to London doesn't go as planned--or does it?

I'm enjoying Ngaio Marsh's books, but I was pretty much able to guess where this one was going pretty early on. Still, the story itself was enjoyable so I listened through till the end.

It's still hard to believe that this was written in the 70's, because it still feels like the 40's, but other than that, it was good. I enjoyed the characters, and the ending reminded me of an Agatha Christie short story I read recently.

It sure left me wanting to see Troy's paintings.
Listened to well-narrated audio recording. Very British, very literate, very enjoyable---rather a jolly mystery. Recommend to fans of spirited but civilized whodoneits.
Another used bookshop purchase to fill in the collection. I enjoyed this one in particular probably because I couldn't figure out who done it!
One of my absolute favorite Inspector Alleyn's. Great characterization, plot and setting!
I did in fact listen to this book on audio Cd's but couldn't find the right picture for that one.
I'm liking Ngaio Marsh quite a bit- I even find myself confusing her stuff with Josephine Tey's!
When the president of an African state comes to visit London, Alleyn, his old school friend, is asked to convince him that he needs more security. When the ambassador with whom he's staying is murdered at a party, a small group of people with grudges against the government becomes suspect. I re-read this because I wanted to see the changes in the past forty years in attitudes toward race. Marsh was considered liberal and civilized then; an author couldn't get away with some of this material now. ...more
I liked this book, though the comments of some of the anti-black characters struck my 21st-century ear as out of line. For a book written in 1973 they were probably not outrageous.
One of the characters is a funny old bachelor with a cat and I found him quite charming. There was a lot about Alleyn's relationship with his old school chum (now President of an African nation) which I liked as it showed me another side of our hero. I thought the conspiracy at the heart of the mystery was a bit overl
Susan B.
A good old-fashioned murder mystery. Just like I like them.
Like all of Dame Marsh's books, always literate.
Another one of the better Marshes
Another great one in the series

Ngaio Marsh is one of the great dames of mystery for two very good reasons: her uncanny ability to create full-bodied portraits of her characters and imbue them with personality and life that rings ever true and her skill with complex, engaging plots that end in satisfying conclusions. In Black as He's Painted, both of those aspects of her writing are at displayed at their best. One of the more delightful of the Alleyn mysteries, the book revolves around the thwarted murder of the Ng'ombwana pre
The plot is well-done, with the over-arching mystery appropriately tangled and clues doled out that I mostly missed. There's also a quick mystery, too, that helps wrap the whole thing up. As always, it's interesting to see the different viewpoints and cultural norms of the time.

For me though, Marsh 's strength here is the characters. Inspector Alleyn is as intelligent and polite as always. He is a gentleman, a member of the upper class, as this episode reminds us. I like that his wife, Troy, who
I enjoy mysteries from the 60s & 70s. The writing and the settings and the language. are interesting - like stepping into a period piece. This book- because of subject, setting, and author - has a lot of racial content. The story was interesting and engaging. The worst racists were. badguys, but even so it was a offputting.

So for story and writing it's close to 5 star but for readability and enjoyment it's only a 3 for me.
Finished 2015-05-31. Apparently written and set in 1975, to me, Marsh exhibits a better and fuller understanding of the inherent nature of cats than of human beings (too willing to generalize across races). On top of that, I am disappointed in her outcome for and attitude about the criminal component. Ah me, silly as I know this is supposed to be light detective fiction, not a moralistic piece of literature.
The President of Ng'ombwana, a newly independent republic in Africa, is coming to London. There have been several assassination attempts on the President before he arrives in England and the Foreign Office wants to ensure that nothing happens to him during this visit. Luckily, Scotland Yard's Superintendent Roderick Alleyn was a school boy friend of the President during their youth and so Alleyn is assigned to the case. When the Ng'omwanan ambassador is killed by a spear during an embassy recept ...more
Katie Hilton
A good Marsh mystery featuring an old school chum of Alleyn's who now is president of an African republic. The president hosts a London dinner party, and his ambassador is assassinated, right in front of Alleyn. The case is complicated by embassy rules, etc., but Alleyn sorts it out.
Enjoyable mystery. I didn't find it offensive as some reviewers did, nor did I find it a boring plot. I wouldn't say it was the best Marsh mystery but I did enjoy it and the narrator is very easy to listen to and has great voices.
Good Christie-like mystery. African ambassador and an embassy murder. Good twists.
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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 of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10)
A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1) 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)

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