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Final Curtain

(Roderick Alleyn #14)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,120 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Troy Alleyn, Inspector Roderick Alleyn's beautiful young wife, is engaged to paint a portrait of Sir Henry Ancred, famed Shakespearean actor and family patriarch, but she senses all is not well in the dreary castle of Ancreton. When old Hnery is found dead after a suspicious dinner and an unfortunate family fracas, Troy enlists the impeccable aid of her husband to determin ...more
Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published December 15th 2012 by Felony & Mayhem Press (first published 1947)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  3,120 ratings  ·  127 reviews

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Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1947, this is the fourteenth novel in the Inspector Alleyn series. The war is now over and Alleyn is expected home within a matter of two weeks, or so. His wife, the artist, Agatha Troy, worries about their reunion and is at a loss about how to pass the time. That is why, although originally unwilling, she accepts a commission to paint a portrait of the celebrated actor, Sir Henry Ancred for his seventy fifth birthday.

At Sir Henry’s family home, Troy meets his artistic and flamboyan
Jan 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When a book is written in the 1940's it can be expected to have the prejudices of the day, but this one had the trifecta of comments about Jews, black people and a character who embodied all of the most offensive gay stereotypes. All this stood out in sharp relief because the plot was not that interesting, and all the characters were horrible. The murder was not even convincing.
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The reviewer notes on the cover said it was "time to stop comparing Marsh to Agatha Christie, and start comparing Christie to Marsh", implying (and elsewhere boldly stating) that Marsh was the better writer. I've read just about everything Christie put out, and quite a bit of Marsh's oeuvre, and while I like Marsh's work, it doesn't seem to be any better than Christie's. (Yeah, I used the word "oeuvre" in a sentence. Jealous much?)
This particular work is pretty good, but (of course) there are a
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
14th Alleyn book from 1947. Lucky to have read another Felony & Mayhem pristine paperback from my library. I can only conclude few patrons have found the trove of Marsh books as each seem brand new to me. Shhh!
In the timeline of the married life of Agatha Troy, painter, and her Scotland Yard husband Roderick Alleyn, this book begins at the juncture of Alleyn's anticipated return home after three years of service overseas under Special Branch directive.
Troy accepts a commission to go to a country
Final Curtain (1947) by Ngaio Marsh finds Agatha Troy waiting for her husband's return from several years of war work in New Zealand and Australia. Inspector Alleyn is due back any time and Troy worries that the long separation may have spoiled their young relationship. When a request (a near-royal summons) comes from the celebrated actor Sir Henry Ancred for her to paint his portrait--in full actor's regalia as Macbeth--she is, at first, annoyed at the distraction. But when Sir Henry's son Thom ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
It has been a long time since I read a Marsh mystery. This one has wit and humor but is a little too twee. It also has way too many characters introduced in a rapid-fire info dump at the beginning of the book. I found it impossible to keep them, and their relationships, straight. If I had read this 40 years ago I probably would have liked it a lot more, but I’ve moved on from house party murders.
Calum Reed
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Back to reality for Marsh, in a post-war setting and with an extremely traditional country house mystery, consisting of a standard plot, motive, and method of murder. More notable for the romanticism of Alleyn and Troy's reunion, and that she gamely confronts the elements of the investigation, as had not been the case in the past. I especially love this unapologetically slushy passage describing their reunion:

"When she had moved forward on the quay, without at first seeing him, his physical re
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in August 1998.

The war is finally over, and Alleyn is returning from New Zealand - where the previous two books in the series, Colour Scheme and Died In The Wool, are set - to join his wife in London. Just as Troy is expecting him back any day, she receives an extremely pressing invitation: distinguished actor Sir Henry Ancred wishes to commission her to paint his portrait at his family seat, Ancreton. This invitation is occasioned by Sir Henry receiving the
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I read somewhere that "Died in the Wool" was Marsh's favorite in her Alleyn series, and I liked it a lot but this one is even better. It's not quite five stars to me, since it ends a bit suddenly and it was not as personally satisfying a conclusion as I would have preferred. But it was a lot of fun to read.

This Alleyn installment has a group of vivid characters, representing the steady growth in fiction-writing that I am seeing as I work my way through the series. The story does in a way remind
Susan in NC
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars - very entertaining classic country house murder, it was good to have Inspector Alleyn back with Fox and Troy in England after wartime duty of three-plus years.

As the novel opens, Troy has been asked to paint the portrait of legendary actor Sir Henry Ancred; Alleyn is due home anytime, but Troy is deeply tempted to take on the commission. She heads to the great actor’s country house and is soon pleasantly immersed in her work, despite being surrounded by the dysfunctional, overly drama
The first half of this book it totally from Troy's perspective, and if you've been reading them in order you're ready to spend more time with her. That's because Roderick has been in New Zealand investigating WWII crime for 3.5 years and she's disappeared from the reader's radar. But don't despair - he's coming home soon and this book get both of them in the act.

Her husband's imminent return makes Troy reluctant to take a commission for a huge portrait of a dying Shakespearean actor, but of cour
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
4.5 stars, but I thought I'd round up, because it's a high point in the series. Hearing about this one made me come back to this series. This one I quite like.

The Ancreds are interesting enough. Some of the character moments are quite good within the family, and between the family and Troy. I like Troy as a narrator in the first half. I also like some of the discussion of her painting. I like Alleyn and Troy both struggling with worries about a reconciliation (and whether they will feel the same
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Famous painter Agatha Troy has three weeks to wait for the return of Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn from four years’ service in New Zealand during the Second World War as Ngaio Marsh’s Final Curtain opens. She gets invited (well, pretty much commanded) to go to Ancreton, the home of Sir Henry Ancred to paint the old actor in his most famous role as Macbeth. After initially turning the “great man” down, Troy gives in and travels to the castle to paint the man’s portrait. While there sh ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous book! We get Troy and Roderick both, which I do love. And both points of view, which I find fun. The puzzle is complex, and I wasn't sure till the very end who was the culprit, which is the very best.

It's important to remember, if you haven't the context, that Alleyn was sent to New Zealand for his war work, and Troy was in England doing hers, so they were apart 3 years. And remember, you couldn't really phone NZ from UK at that point - calling from one part of the country to anothe
Grace Tierney
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I'm not giving five stars is that I worked out the method of the murder early on. This is my first Marsh novel and even coming late to the series it was easy to get the hang of the central characters. Unlike more recent crime fiction which seems to need a corpse in the opening chapter and several more thereafter this one takes its time and is the better for it as the author takes 50% of the pages to setup all the horrible suspects in this diva-filled family in their country house ...more
The first post-war Alleyn, taking its start in Troy's world. Troy is one of my favourite characters (in and out of the Alleyn mysteries) and so her tale, among the over-dramatic Ancreds, is engrossing for me, and it's nice to see her and Alleyn settle some of the 'business' of being married, of working out how to be together.

The real oddity of this story for me is that it's a Troy story which involves a beautiful and morally bereft woman called Sonia. Given that Troy's introduction involved the
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, detective, 1940s
Like a lot of parlor mysteries, this one pursues a logic all its own. Well, not quite all its own -- it's pretty heavily influenced by the dodgy psychological insights of the day, even while it thinks it's mocking them. And yet it's a very comfortable tale with familiar and colorful characters, and I was a bit disappointed when it came to its (more or less arbitrary) end. So I suppose I "really liked it."
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More enjoyable than the last few because of the reunion in London of Alleyn with Fox and, of course, Troy. I hadn't realized that Alleyn's wartime duties had taken him away for three years or more. Marsh's interest in the theater and fine arts continues in the setting.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I'll ever get bored of a good mystery: Christie, Tey, and Marsh being my favorite authors.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a lifetime reading Sayers, with only occasional side ventures into other Golden Age mystery writers, I finally decided to try Ngaio Marsh, who I had never read. I was very happy to find someone who satisfied my preference for characterization over a clever puzzle, which is why I'm not a diehard Christie person. Marsh creates people that I really can envision, her fondness for the theater is such a wonderful backdrop to so many of her books (including this one), her knack of writing good co ...more
Adam Carson
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A return to her well polished country house murder mysteries after her wartime stories set in New Zealand.

It’s a clever and well written mystery as ever, that made me devour the book in just a few sittings. By far the best thing about it is the relationship between Troy and Alleyn, which is beautifully drawn.

For me, the only things that let it down were the number of characters in the same family, which made it pretty confusing, and difficult to grasp who’s who and the family tree. There is also
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not as riveting as some of Marsh's books, but is still a very good read. I had read it a couple times before and was pretty sure I remembered who the murderer was, which removed some of the immediacy. Troy has been commissioned to paint a portrait of an old actor, Sir Henry Ancred. Although she is given a very short amount of time to do it, he is someone she has wanted to paint, so she accepts. Also her husband Rory Alleyn has been gone for a couple years on duty, so she is at loose ends ...more
Carol Evans
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Final Curtain has a lot of similarities to many of Marsh’s other mysteries. We’ve got a country house party. Inspector Alleyn doesn’t show up until about halfway through. We’ve got a young couple who are meant to be together but have difficulties in the way. We’ve got a tie to both art and the theater. But Marsh winds these bits together with a pretty terrible family and comes up with an enjoyable mystery that had me stumped.

WW 2 is over and Agatha Troy is waiting for her husband, Inspector
Jj Li
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
tl;dr: If Troy could keep tripping over bodies, that'd be great.

Before Alleyn and Troy and Peter and Harriet, I was firmly against detectives marrying. Eve and Roarke were one things, but for most couples, they are most crashingly dull, and that perfectly intelligent human beings can't be bothered to figure out interpersonal relationships and instead go through this agony of indecision (because apparently married = boring) drives me nuts. Troy, though, is written as a fully formed human being wi
Jemima Ravenclaw
I adored the characters and their interactions with each other. The Ancreds, a family of quirky wannabe actors who live their lives as if on the stage, milking the last squeak of glorious drama from every entrance, scene and exit. In amongst this, we follow the story of Troy, who is the detective Roderick Alleyn's wife, who is waiting for her husband's return from overseas service during the war. Troy stays at Castle and is treated to a full live performance of one of the Bard's finest dramatic ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am reading my way through the series, with great pleasure in the writing. Winter branches are “the scaffolding of summer.” A 2018 book about the 1940’s would have a lot right, but would be a bit cleaned up for contemporary readers’ sensibilities. This 1947 book is of the time with the attitudes of the time. One line leaped out at me for its casual use. Alleyn says, “That’s the colour of the nigger in the woodpile, isn’t it?” I remember hearing my father use that phrase without self-consciousne ...more
Lise Petrauskas
I'm a fan of Marsh, but the series is uneven. The best books are funny and involve inspector Fox. I also like the books in which Troy makes and appearance. Both characters were present, and Troy has the first half of the book—the first book written after several post WWII during which time Alleyn is serving in New Zealand. As a series completist, I enjoyed that aspect of it, but murder mystery took place at on an estate and was a parody of an eccentric British aristocratic family that was silly ...more
So pleased this was back featuring Allyen being a detective, after the last two books, him being a secret agent in New Zealand. Was worried at first that this was going to be just about his wife Troy. The reunion of Allyen and Troy , I thought was well handled, and was pleased to see Fox again.
I admit I had no idea who the villain was. I felt we were being being led to different characters all the way through, which probably made me disregard them. I hope future books carry on as good as this ha
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
While this is an interesting mystery by one of my favorite authors, I found myself extremely irritated with a couple of the characters. One is a young man who is just too precious for words and the other is a child who is called "Panty". That's probably one of the most horrible nicknames anyone could have, especially in a novel.

The plot is fairly interesting, but most of the secondary characters are pretty obnoxious. 'Nuff said.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally had this one figured out.

Except I didn't. Dammit.

I was also really excited to see that Troy was a character! Yay! Interaction between Alleyn and Troy! Except as soon as Alleyn enters, Troy exits. For all of Marsh's ability making characters come alive, she is not so good at making relationships come alive. Well, except for Fox and Alleyn. She does that relationship justice.

This book revels in Marsh's fascination for theatrical character types, stage sets, and structured drama. Troy, w
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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

Other books in the series

Roderick Alleyn (1 - 10 of 33 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)

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