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Opening Night

(Roderick Alleyn #16)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,314 ratings  ·  114 reviews
A classic Ngaio Marsh novel reissued in B-format.

Dreams of stardom had lured Martyn Tarne from faraway New Zealand to make the dreary, soul-destroying round of West End agents and managers in search of work. The Vulcan Theatre had been her last forlorn hope, and now, driven by sheer necessity, she was glad to accept the humble job of dresser to its leading lady.

And then ca
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 20th 2001 by HarperCollins (first published 1951)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,314 ratings  ·  114 reviews


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Henry Avila
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martyn Tarne is in need of help... make that a great need, just a couple of weeks in England, arriving from her native New Zealand the poor, nineteen-year- old girl wants to be a star on the London stage, but first any job will do. Luck... she has none, all her money was stolen on the long, lonely ship voyage from home, the daughter of a sheep farmer with a small amount of acting experience. Get employment or sleep on the street...even in 1951 there are risks. However The Vulcan Theatre new play ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dame Ngaio Marsh has pulled it off big-time in this one. This mystery which moves at breakneck pace takes place over a period of four days, during the rehearsals and opening night of the play "Thus to Revisit". The author draws her knowledge of the stage enormously, and we are presented with the spectacle of the stirring human drama, taking place backstage in the dressing rooms.

Martyn Tarne is a young girl, not quite out of teenage, on the lookout to make it on the London stage. She hopes to use
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Ellie
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Love Marsh. She's up there with Christie as a great mystery writer.
Ape
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, england
First Ngaio Marsh book for me! Very well written, interesting murder story... I wonder if all her stories are set up like this. The story is 180 pages odd long, and the murder didn't happen till just past the 100 page mark. So it's as much a general fiction story that happens to have a murder in it as anything else.

Set in London in the 40s or 50s (I'm guessing), we see little New Zealander Martyn Tarne newly in London struggling to find acting work and getting really down on her luck. Desperate
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Maureen E
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I like detectives. Not all of them by any means, but I like them. Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey, Inspector Grant, and most recently, Inspector Alleyn. Any new-to-me Alleyn mystery is a cause for rejoicing, the donning of a smoking jacket and the putting up of an 'occupied' sign on my (non-existent) study door. Lord Peter is perhaps my favorite but Alleyn comes close.

I'm not sure how many Alleyns I've read so far; my wild guess is about ten. They have, at this point, started to g
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Hannah
Sep 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, favourites
Pleasantly surprised at how entertaining "Night at the Vulcan" was. I was previously thoroughly underwelmed by "Light Thickens", my first of the Alleyn novels, but found myself quite enjoying this one.

Vulcan's strength partly lies in its protagonist, Martyn Tarne, who is interesting and sweet of nature, and therefore quite easy to like. It helps considerably when you can like and follow what the protagonist is saying and doing. The secondary characters, as well, are all very well fleshed out and
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FangirlNation
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martyne Tarne has been in England from New Zealand for two weeks, and her money is about to run out when she happens upon the Vulcan Theater in Night at the Vulcan, also published as Opening Night, by Ngaio Marsh. Overhearing that the lead actress, Helena Hamilton, has just lost her dresser to illness, Martyne jumps at the opportunity for any job in the theater, where she has long wanted to work. The play features a role by the famous actor, Adam Poole, in which a young woman plays his daughter. ...more
Eryn
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rather miss the age of actually describing things in books. Halfway through I had to check to see if it was a mystery, but it was an engaging enough book to keep my interest. By the time the murder had happened, I was engaged with the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. We simply don't get that type of set-up anymore. Typically we get a murder that's orbited by the characters, but Marsh wrote it as characters who are eventually orbited by a murder. Frankly, it's something ...more
Nell
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Such an engrossing story that it was almost a surprise when Alleyn & Co. made their appearance about two-thirds of the way in. Clever how bits from earlier books in the series are woven in.
Nila
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Ngaio Marsh is a favorite mystery/detective writer, and this story has been my most appreciated of her books since I first read it half a lifetime ago.

Ms. Marsh loved the theater, and used it as a setting quite often. As with many female detective writers of her day, she hankers after a gentleman from the upper classes. Roderick Alleyn is one of those well-bred Englishmen who have perfect manners, perfect clothes and just the right behavior in any circumstance. He is also a pol
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Barbara
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something so enjoyable in picking up and tearing through these vintage British crime/detective novels, though it is not till over half way through that either crime or the detectives enter this story set in the theatre.

The writing is descriptive and evocative, but at the same time tight, so that reading it for me was a pleasurable indulgence that kept me engaged for a lovely couple of hours in a single sitting.
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jj Li
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You can always tell which character you're supposed to like, and for me, it spoils it when I don't like them. Martyn was supposed to be this down to earth girl who trips into riches, and usually that's am enjoyable story line for me. But this one... no. I really didn't like any of them, including the other half of the young lovers who really isn't quite so young (and also a relations, and also instalove, and also huge age difference = it's a no from me), and while the rest of the cast might not ...more
Matthew Talamini
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think she wanted to write a novel about a play much more than one about solving a mystery. Or, maybe I'll say it this way: She seems to have enjoyed tying the knot much more than loosing it. Even just judging by page numbers, the detective doesn't show up until very late in the book.

It's about these characters getting into terrible trouble with each other and burying it, everybody hiding what's really going on beneath layer and layer of camouflage until the whole little tribe of the play is li
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Karen Cleary
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had read all Ngaio Marsh's books, but didn't remember this one at all. Its original title was Opening Night, & it's not in my collection, so either it's one of the ones that has gone missing over the last 40 years & many moves, or I never bought it - probably the latter, as nothing about the plot was familiar to me, & usually I remember who the villain was even after so long. (I still enjoy re-reading them, though, along with Dorothy Sayers & Margery Allingham.) This ...more
Marybeth
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book with the expectation that it would probably be my last Inspector Alleyn novel, but I've changed my mind again. I'd gotten tired of the lengthy setups in several of her novels preceding this one, but this time I found myself completely sucked into their world. The atmosphere of the theater was entertaining, the secondary characters were engaging, and I didn't at all mind waiting for Alleyn and his men to show up. I actually cared about what happened to the company of actors an ...more
Denise Spicer
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another of Marsh’s “theater” mysteries. This one finds a young aspiring actress given a spur-of-the-moment job as dresser/understudy. A murder occurs and Chief Inspector Alleyne appears mid-way through the story. There are interesting characters but the plot and romantic sup-plot are not very believable.
John Beckett
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ngaio-marsh
As I read this book I had the impression that I had been there before. Marsh has a few stories that occur in a theater setting. About two thirds through the book Inspector Alleyn indicates that he already knew the layout of the theater. That came about in "I Can Find My Way Out," which is a story contained in "Death On The Air." I only wish that I had re-read that book first.
Guy
I nearly rated this only 3 stars because the romantic aspects of it are a bit over-the-top, but I decided it was worth 4 because it is such an engaging story. If there's a fault it is in how some aspects of it seem dated but that is also some of its charm. I like the pace of the whodunits of Sayers, Christie, and Marsh. This is the kind of book you'll be likely to read in one or two sittings.
Susan
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much more pleasant than the previous one in the Alleyn series, with characters one could actually relate to and who showed some humanity to each other. And lo and behold, the youngest Lamprey (from the Surfeit of Lampreys title) and who provided eye-witness evidence to Alleyn which helped solve that murder, has actually joined Scotland Yard and makes an appearance.
Nancy Cook-senn
There's more drama backstage at the Vulcan Theater than onstage, when a death by gas heater seems to repeat an earlier tragedy, there's tension among the leading lady, her leading man (former lover) and her husband, the fading character actor; and among the new ingenue, the fading ingenue and their champions.
Suzie Grogan
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ngaio Marsh, and Roderick Alleyn will always be one of my favourite detectives of the golden age (although he continues detecting into the 1970s...) This is short and sweet, of using on the story prior to the murder, which, when Alleyn is called in, is solved within 24 hours. A perfect, quick read and deftly plotted.
Sharon
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The mystery itself was good, and the clues were just enough for me to piece together. I think I was just a little thrown off by the romance (I know it says distant, but still...) and the fact that it took place over such a short span of time. It was odd to have a book where the murder took place pretty late and the rest of the book was spent in interviews for a few hours.
Andree
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This one is essentially fine. The characters are interesting, in general. The mystery is competently done. I like Alleyn in it. There is the requisite case of insta-love, but I guess it makes some sense, even if it's far from my favourite. And I do like the protagonist.

Default three stars.
Jessica
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is so delightfully detailed! Ngaio Marsh's knowledge of theater life shines through brightly on every page. I can also say that I had no idea who the murderer. Pure enjoyment all the way around!
Malerah
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific.
Gypsi
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-audiobooks
Marsh's excellent mystery focuses on a murder during the opening night of a play. It is complex and entertaining, as is the norm with her novels.
Anne Seebach
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read, as always. Ngaio Marsh just never fails to please with her intelligent, elegantly crafted writing.
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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
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Other books in the series

Roderick Alleyn (1 - 10 of 33 books)
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  • 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)