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Scales of Justice (Roderick Alleyn, #18)
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Scales of Justice (Roderick Alleyn #18)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,708 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The quiet village of Swevenings seemed an English pastoral paradise, until the savagely beaten body of Colonel Cartarette was found near a tranquil stream. Suddenly, the playground of British blue bloods has been soiled by murder and the lowest sort of intrigue. But if anyone can clean it up, it's the famous Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard.
Published (first published 1953)
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A strange outing for Marsh. From comments made by various characters one can tell that the author herself knows that she is writing about a world which, if it ever existed, is now nearly gone. She has various characters mount assaults on the dying status quo and yet in the end allows it to triumph without ever putting up a cogent defense. The final defense of the status quo is that its greatest attacker is a bad person.
The murder itself is, for Marsh, excessively grisly although one only learns
I listened to this one twice. The first time I was feeling rather stressed, so it was more letting Benedict Cumberbatch's voice pull me along than trying to figure out whodunit. I got about 2/3 of the way through, realized I wasn't even trying, then started it over. I'm glad I did.
This is a classic whodunit, set in a small British village, and written in the 50s. There's a full cast of characters (brilliantly voiced, btw), in third person with zero head jumping. Some bits were a little predicta
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Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in November 1998.

This is, I think, the first Ngaio Marsh novel which is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's village-set murder mysteries; even those which have a village setting (such as Death At The Bar) have had a rather different atmosphere. That this book is more like Christie is largely due to the upper-class nature of the main characters and the mechanism of the underlying puzzle.

The village of Swevenings has had the same group of upper class families for
Long-time fans of Marsh would find it weird to hear me say that this is the first time Alleyn has made such an early entry into the novel, but as this is actually the third Marsh book I've managed to lay my hands on, and the first one not connected to the theatre, I find some elements of this a refreshing change from the previous two (Alleyn's early appearance being one of them).

Compared to Light Thickens and Night at the Vulcan, Alleyn makes his entry surprisingly early in the novel, and conseq
"When people are in love, " Lady Lacklander said with a little scream as a new fomentation was applied, "they instinctively present themselves to each other in their most favourable light. They assume pleasing characteristics as unconsciously as a cock pheasant puts on his spring plumage. They display such virtues as magnanimity, charitableness and modesty and wait for them to be admired. They develop a positive genius for suppressing their least attractive points. They can't help it, you know, ...more
Years and years ago I first read Ngaio Marsh. With Josephine Tey, she came to represent a different approach to mystery writing. From an emphasis on clever and even to some extent amusing puzzles, these authors shifted attention to character. The characters tend to drive the stories, even as the puzzle-breaking continues.

In this case, which occurred in the 1950s, Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard is called to investigate the murder of a respected gentleman in a small village. The
In Scales of Justice, Marsh takes a calm little town, throws in a murder, and exposes the dark corners of everyone’s closets. It’s an enjoyable whodunnit. By the way, think fish scales when you read the title. It reminds me of the titles of many of today’s cozies, with their play on words and puns.

First of all, I have to say I loved how Marsh framed this mystery. We start with the travelling nurse surveying the town, picturing it as hand-drawn map, complete with people doing their usual things.
Marsh is a consummate mystery writer. In this novel Inspector Roderick Alleyn, gentleman officer of Scotland Yard, investigates the murder of a prominent and well-liked member of "county" society in the village of Swevenings. The village may seem like a peaceful paradise, but one death sets of a series of discoveries that shake the rural gentry to their roots. Well plotted, if someone predictable. Marsh is meticulous and descriptive, essential components of the well-written cozy mystery.
Katie Hilton
A very good murder mystery set in a charming English village, with the victim having been found next to a legendary trout beside a stream. Was the killer a fellow angler, or someone else with a grudge? Chief Inspector Detective Alleyn sorts it out.
Scales of Justice: Was too difficult to read, I didn't care for the characters at all nor could I make sense of the plot.

I had to stop reading this.....
I loved it all except the motive of the killer. I thought it was weak compared to her other mysteries. But, I'll keep listening to and reading more; makes folding laundry less of a chore.
Andy Plonka
An oldie but good one. where the cat helps figure it out. No smoke and mirrors just good detective skill.
Great story! This is a later volume in the series and it shows. The writing is stronger and the characters are more complex and interesting. I had no trouble keeping them all straight or following the development of the case as I did with the two previous Alleyn mysteries. Sadly, this is the last of the three narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. But this one was good enough that I'm inclined to read more from the series in book form, from the library. One thing I noticed was that we never get any t ...more
Les Wilson
I enjoyed this book, but it could have been better.
Kate  K. F.
Not one of my favorite Alleyn books, but one that I quite enjoyed. I've read all of the Alleyn books at least once but came into this one without remembering this. I find this a real gift for mysteries and liked figuring out the mystery.

Sadly though the characters were rather a set piece but the setting of a small English valley where everyone had intertwined histories was wonderful. Not my favorite of the Alleyn mysteries, it felt much more like a Christie to me as it was rather more formulaic
Nancy Wilson
Dark family secrets, trout and the upper class Allen sorts it out and figures out who done it.
Abridged audio book. And definitely worth reading the whole thing, because I might learn things about fish-related forensics. What could be better than that? This book seems to be a very clear example of the difference between Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh: both are village murder mysteries, but I don't see Christie making so much out of fish -- it just seems a bit undignified for her, but Marsh seems to embrace the ridiculousness of it.
Finally, a Ngaio Marsh that I really liked! Reminds me a bit of the Lord Peter mystery, The Five Red Herrings...very fishy indeed. In the tiny town of Swevenings (meaning "dreams" in Chaucerian England, according to Marsh) everyone has a reason to kill the deceased, and I do mean everyone. You can easily be fooled into thinking that even the most unlikely person is capable of doing the crime, so keep your facts straight!

Another pleasantly entertaining Marsh cozy. This one seemed to have more invested in the actual mystery but the Marsh watermark of cleverly-crafted descriptions remains the reason to read; "Smoke rose in cozy plumes from one or two chimneys; roofs cuddled into surrounding greenery ... a trout stream meandered through meadow and coppice and slid blamelessly under two bridges."
Verity W
Another good case for Inspector Alleyn. This took a bit of getting into for me - but it was really very good once I got going. There are plenty of twists and turns and I thought I had it sussed several times. Just a shame that (once again) I liked the character who ended up as the corpse!
I just love this series. The books are not as fluffy as Christie (who I also love), but not as agonizing as the Thomas Lynley books by Elizabeth George. Really, a perfect balance. This one didn't include his wonderful wife, Troy, but the relationship between Alleyn and Fox is wonderful.
Apryl Anderson
(28.10.1994), Tidily written. Neat beginning and carefully finished ending. Also good in between. Beware of the evil ladder climber, but protect the innocent underclass. Very interesting use of fishing trivia. Fun & entertaining reading.
A serviceable English gentry mystery featuring Roderick Allyn. There is a proper limited pool of suspects and a suitable batch of clues, but no real chemistry with the characters. It fits the expected formula but is nothing special.
Mar 11, 2009 Barbra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a good British Mystery!
Shelves: mystery
What a great British mystery done with superb attention to detail. Ngaio Marsh gives her mysteries those little twists and turns and even though you might guess who DONE it, she always surprises you with the HOW.
Dec 17, 2012 Kel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
Lots of red herrings in this story. It is one of Ngaio's old-fashioned stories; the kind I like best. Who killed the Colonel? His wife? His wife's lover? The old lady, to protect the family name? Read and wonder.
Really enjoyed this; the more inspector Alleyn books i read, the more i like the character ! He's s not quite as lovable as Point, but still a lovely character
Lee Ann
I thought I had it figured out but I didn't. The villain is the sort that usually can't be the villain because s/he is too obvious. That was a neat trick.
Undemanding fare but these books are so enjoyable. My second hand copy had a map of the village at the front and that is always a plus point for me.
Sonja Livingston
I'm SO addicted to Ms. Marsh right now. Love the quaint village, the silly characters, the way the English give their cats first AND last names.
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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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