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Final Curtain

(Roderick Alleyn #14)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,778 ratings  ·  87 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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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
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 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.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1940s, audio, detective
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."
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
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
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#14 in the suave and debonair, Scotland Yard Superintendent Roderick Alleyn mystery series. Alleyn is detached, sophisticated and expensively educated.

It is early November and Troy has been invited to Ancreton Manor to paint to paint the portrait of seventy-five famed Shakespearian actor Sir Henry Ancred as Macbeth which she reluctanly accepts. Meanwhile, her husband, Roderick Alleyn has been on the other side of the world for over three years doing secret war work is finally returning home.

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
Judith Rich
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Patricia Washburn
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Ms. Marsh's golden-age mysteries, which often include incisive observations on art and theater, two of her favorite realms. The dotty family in this one is a bit over the top, and the caricature of a gay man strikes a bit of a wrong note by current standards, but I enjoy Troy Alleyn and seeing her navigate the rocky shoals of reuniting with her husband after three years of separation during the war.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably one of my favorite Ngaio Marsh novels... it contains a lot of elements that I enjoy in a mystery: the large mansion, the suspicious family, and lots of uncertainty. By the end I had no idea who the guilty party was and the big reveal was honestly a shock. Plus, one of the characters is nicknamed Panty. C'mon now... what's not to love?
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
2 1/2 stars. The mystery I thought was good but the histrionics of many of the characters were just too much. They seemed caricatures at times.

Overall, I would call it average. I would weigh more in favor of the mystery part of the book than the characters which is usually a strong point for Marsh.
Aggie Sanders
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
One of her best. No idea who did it.
Connie Schuchard
Read the entire series. Very enjoyable!
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though this has a theatre title, this is more of a country house drama. I enjoyed the envolvement of Troy.
Jun 30, 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.
Kristen Kurzawski
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy this addition to this series. The first half of the book is told from Troy's perspective, which was an enjoyable change of pace. It was a fun, clever story too.
Sarah Webber
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I have mixed feelings about this book. It started up beautifully from Troy's perspective and I loved all the details of her painting but in the middle I started having flashbacks to Georgette Heyer's Penhallow, which I loathed. It ended well and I didn't have a clue who really done it (the red herrings were very effective even after I had deduced the method) but the use of poison in such a poisonous family was awful to witness. I do wonder if Marsh was inspired by Heyer; Penhallow was published ...more
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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)
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  • Overture to Death (Roderick Alleyn, #8)
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  • Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10)