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Death in a White Tie

(Roderick Alleyn #7)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  9,349 ratings  ·  275 reviews
A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim.But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had alread ...more
Kindle Edition, 329 pages
Published December 15th 2012 by Felony & Mayhem Press (first published 1938)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  9,349 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Start your review of Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
Rating and review to follow tonight. Was good though 😊

And now it is tonight, so....

Right, now for some reason I have fallen out of love with Roderick Alleyn, I was keeping up well with the challenge for the first 6 months then for some reason it has taken me another 4 months to get to number 7, and I don't know why.
This was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the characterisations, but, and there is a but, to me it is not Agatha Christie. So despite this being well written, d
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

When I reread Death at the Dolphin I'll be interested to see how this earlier title compares. Death at the Dolphin was my favourite as a young reader, but this title was a first time read for me & this now feels like my favourite Marsh novel.

The main reason is it is a good story, well told & Marsh seems to have some understanding of the world of debutantes. I know back in the 60s/70s New Zealand had a debutante system as my four sister-in-laws were debutantes. So possibly Marsh grew up under

Description: The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas and balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim. But Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn knew that something was up."

Sometimes a Golden Age whodunnit is my only weakness.

3* A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1)
2* Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2)
3* The Nursing Home Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #3)
WL Death in Ecstasy (Roderick
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This seventh book in the Inspector Alleyn series was published in 1938. This is set in the world of debutantes and coming out balls. Alleyn’s own mother, Lady Alleyn, is bringing out his niece, Sarah, and is looking forward to doing the Season. One of the balls that everyone is most looking forward to is that given by Sir Herbert and Lady Evelyn Carrados, for Evelyn’s daughter, Bridget. Meanwhile, Alleyn has asked his old friend, Lord Robert Gospell, who is always invited everywhere, to keep his ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read quite a number of these Roderick Alleyn books in my 2019 reading year. This was another pristine paperback from Felony & Mayhem of a book that had originally been published in 1938. Taking into account the manners of that period this stands up as a challenging investigation for Alleyn and Fox as the murder victim was a dear friend of Alleyn's, but also the blackmail and treachery perpetrated within elite social circles was a prickly problem to unsnarl.

There are some rather dramatic s
Death in a White Tie is a reread for me. I discovered Ngaio Marsh back at my hometown Carnegie Library (more moons ago than we need to count) and I promptly read through all the Marsh books they had. Later, about twenty years ago, I read some of them again and Death in a White Tie was one simply because it's one of my favorites. There are so many things I enjoy about this tale of murder and blackmail amongst the London Society at the height of the Season--from the witty dialogue, to the scenes a ...more
Competent audiobook narrator, but a rather strange, tinny quality to the recording quality itself.

You can spot the murderer in this one if you spot the lie, but it's only by knowing the lie that I ever spot it. I get very annoyed at nephew Donald whenever I read this. Everyone describes him as a nice young chap, but he consistently behaves as such an ass that I don't think he's got much soundness in him at all.
Oct 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Death in a White Tie was a very pleasant surprise for me. I've read three other Marsh mysteries, and found them dull and blandly written. I had this on my shelf, and thought I'd start it, give it my usual 50 pages, then get rid of it. I was hooked, however, because of how vividly the fictional world is imagined. The victim is a truly interesting, sympathetic character, and I experienced real outrage and puzzlement at his demise. I felt I had a vested interest in accompanying the detective, Roder ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Christie, Sayers and Marsh had much in common. They wrote for people of their own class (upper middle) and drew on the tropes of the times: the house parties, huntin' shootin' and fishin', esoteric academia and/or clinical knowledge, and of course the "best people" doing the worst possible things. Alleyn to the rescue--and after all, he is PLU, as Nancy Mitford would say!

This is a new one on me, the coming-out ball mystery. Here there's no presentation at court, just the marriage market where Yo
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of this book, so I don't know if it counts as my reading. My full intention was to enjoy BC's voice, but I end up very absorbed in the story. Traditional (Agatha, Troy) style mystery, upper-class setting, sympathetic characters and amusing tone. Engaging but not heavy. ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As we continue our survey of the books of Ngaio Marsh, we get to what is perhaps my favorite book, 1938’s Death in a White Tie. Someone has been actively blackmailing socialites amid those “doing the season,” when debutantes go to balls to look for a husband. Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn seeks out the help of Lord Robert “Bunchy” Gospell, who has helped Scotland Yard in the past, to help him find the culprit. Bunchy, around the age of 50, is popular with everyone of all ages who go ...more
Death in a White Tie is my absolute favorite Ngaio Marsh novel. I have read it many times and watched the BBC episode starring Patrick Malahide several times as well. This is the second time I have listened to Benedict Cumberbatch read in the audio novel version. I have posted a more thorough review (when I read this in 2014) which may be found HERE.

This time I will merely repeat what I said then: This is, I believe, one of Marsh's best novels. It doesn't matter that I've read it before and know
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
I think this is the first Alleyn mystery where I genuinely felt for the victim, which helped greatly in my enjoyment of the story. It's the first one where you spend part of the book following the victim closely, too, and where Alleyn has personal feelings on the matter, both of which I think are relevant. I know that the trope of the personally involved detective can be exasperating -- and Alleyn even refers to it, in one of those unsubtle bits of meta -- but at least it's another way for the r ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming Golden Age mystery set against a backdrop of débutantes 'coming out' in London society. As the young women make their rounds of balls, lunch parties and dinners, a blackmailer is at work among their chaperones. Inspector Alleyn asks his friend, kindly socialite Lord Robert Gospell, to observe events and identify any clues to the identity of the blackmailer. But before Lord Robert can make his report, a murderer strikes.

This is by far the best in the series to date. Marsh has developed a
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 2016, 2019
2019 Reread

Pretty much ditto to my 2018 review. Except to add that their private tea in Alleyn's flat (and his butler's reaction to it) is pretty great. This is also one of the ones where the secondary characters are particularly well done. All of them, really.

2018 Reread

This one is one of the ones that does the Troy/Alleyn relationship the best. Maybe because they actually get to interact in it (a novel concept). Alleyn's mother is a delight. Also, I think this is the one where I'm saddest abou
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dashiell Hammett called this book 'The best detective story I have ever read.' I wouldn't quite go that far but it is a very good read.

Blackmail is the original crime and Lord Robert Gospell, under direction from Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn, is starting to investigate when he is suddenly murdered.

Alleyn takes over and with plenty of red herrings along the way he eventually unravels the whole affair.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I never used to read mysteries. Several years ago, my (now-retired) librarian friend pointed out mysteries-as-literature to me, and I started right in. Switching between some contemporary mystery authors and some from the "golden age' of mystery-writing, I find that I do have a few favorite authors, and Ngaio Marsh is one of them.

Who could have possibly wanted to harm Lord Robert Gospell? Introduced to the reader as a mild, well-liked, kind gentleman, he is also much more 'with it' than many rea
Alan Teder
Blackmail and Murder
Review of the Felony & Mayhem paperback edition (2012) of the 1938 original

Death in a White Tie is a fairly early work (No. 7 of 33) in the Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard series by New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh. Alleyn and his sidekick Fox are set on the trail of a blackmailer during the London season of debutantes and balls. Alleyn enlists the aid of his friend Lord Robert "Bunchy" Gospell who is adept and well-loved in the social circles of the season. Bu
see review other edtions
This is the seventh novel of the Roderick Alleyn series and it was first published in 1938. This series comprises a total of 32 books.

Roderick Alleyn belongs firmly in the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" which is a type of fiction which was predominant in the 1920s and 1930s.

According to Wiki, "many of the authors of the Golden Age were British: Margery Allingham (1904–1966), Anthony Berkeley (aka Francis Iles, 1893–1971), Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Freeman Wills Crofts (1879–1957), R. Aust
Sandi (Zorena)
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, cozy-mystery
I would say this is my favourite Marsh mystery so far as it was a quick and delightful read. I think I prefer Marsh to Christie because the story tends to elaborate more on the victim and suspects than around the detective/snoop. Detective Alleyn and his friends and family are central to the stories but as a nice aside unlike Christie's Hercule etc. Where a single character tends to dominate.

If you're a Ngaio fan I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this as the characters are engaging and the mystery ha
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Ngaio Marsh read and it was a blessed surprise. Roderick Alleyn is a Scotland Yard detective and thus an entirely different sort from Holmes/Father Brown/Lord Peter/any of the other classic I'm-smart-and-I-do-my-own-thing types, but I enjoyed him/his approach immensely. Heartstrings are tugged when a) the victim is a close friend of Alleyn's, and b) Alleyn struggles with his feelings for Troy [who I liked a great deal]. Overall, a great read.

[Audiobook read by Benedict Cumberbatch. Amen.]
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall takeaway from the twenty-odd reviews I read here: the writing is clever and here and there quite funny - but not as good as Agatha Christie's. (Concur.) The reviews that reflected my feelings best were those of (two stars) Ian Brydon (very well written - chapeau) and (three stars) Amanda. From the latter: ' I will say I didn't find the murderer that surprising, and unlike CHRISTIE, WHO CLUES HER NOVELS SO WELL THAT YOU DON'T REMEMBER THE SIGNIFICANT CLUES {my uppercase - KK}, Marsh sums ...more
There's an interesting juxtaposition in this book between Alleyn's upper-classness and his awareness of people who don't quite fit in, like the embarrassed secretary and the young Jewish girl who is hating her experience of being thrust onto the London season. Of course, it's a demonstration of Alleyn's empathy and good breeding, but the reader may feel just a little uncomfortable at his well-bred pity.

Reasonably good narrator.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: revolving-reads
One of my favorite Marsh's and one of the rare times a murder mystery has left me with an itch over loss the victim long after the book is done. Lord Robert is so finely, lovingly crafted a character that when his light goes out the reader grieves him. Marsh was a master of her craft. ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelle by: London (Scotland Yard)
2018: 3+* Repeat listen.
4* 2019: Abridged addition read by Benedict Cumberbatch. This is the second book in the continuation of the relationship between Roderick and Troy (the first is Artists in Crime).
aPriL does feral sometimes
The various characters are exceptionally well-drawn, not cookie cutter people at all.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The London season has begun. But while debutantes and chaperones plan their luncheons and balls a deadly blackmailer is stalking the highest echelons of society.
Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn - son of Lady Alleyn (who's introducing her niece Sarah to London society) knows something is up and has already planted his close friend Lord Robert at the scene. But someone else got to him first..... Therefore it falls to Roderick Alleyn to investigate the case.
Death in a White Tie was first published
“Don’t I know it. No, Fox, I think it’ll hold firm. It depends on what these people say in their second interviews tonight, of course. If we can establish the facts about the two cigarette-cases, the secret drawer, the telephone conversation and the stolen letter, we’re right. Good Lord, that sounds like a list of titles from the old Sherlock Holmes stories. I think part of the charm of those excellent tales lies in Watson’s casual but enthralling references to cases we never hear of again.”

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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)
  • Overture to Death (Roderick Alleyn #8)
  • Death at the Bar (Roderick Alleyn, #9)
  • Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn #10)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)

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