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Vintage Murder

(Roderick Alleyn #5)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,358 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Death served well-chilled

The leading lady of a theater company touring New Zealand was stunningly beautiful. No one-including her lover-understood why she married the company's pudgy producer. But did she rig a huge jeroboam of champagne to kill her husband during a cast party?

Did her sweetheart? Or was another villain waiting in the wings? On a holiday down under, Inspect
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 15th 1999 by Minotaur Books (first published 1937)
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Krazykiwi Some info is imported via automated data feeds from the publishers and from Amazon. And yes, we check, when someone reports that info is wrong in the…moreSome info is imported via automated data feeds from the publishers and from Amazon. And yes, we check, when someone reports that info is wrong in the right place (i.e. the librarians group, where people who can fix it hang out.) Info from the data feeds doesn't overwrite data corrected by a human either, so once fixed, it should stay fixed.

But there's over a billion books on GR, do you really think the (volunteer) librarians can or have checked every bit of data?

In future, report it in the right place (or use the 'contact us' link at the bottom of the page if you don't want to join a group). It's pretty remarkable really, that a librarian happened by this very book a day after you posted the question.(less)

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3.81  · 
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 ·  2,358 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Marsh fans only
Shelves: mystery, meh, male-lead
Some things should be allowed to fade into obscurity, and the underwhelming Vintage Murder is one of them. Like Enter a Murderer, it is primarily a theater mystery. However, it opens in a shared train car as Alleyn is on vacation in New Zealand. While I had hopes of an Orient Express style story, the real mystery doesn't take place until their first production in Middleton, a fictitious town.

There's a great deal of dialogue, the majority of which takes place at the scene of the crime. Sadly, alm
Review to follow, but suffice to say it only just scraped 4 stars

And here is the review that followed. As numerous people have said before me, and I'm sure will continue to do so, "if only we had halves " . This would then be a solid 3.5 stars. As it is, it isn't 3, so it has to be 4 .

(As a complete aside before I continue, why is GR so awful on kindles when they are both Amazon ?? )

Ok, back to the book, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it just never seemed to get going, and if I'
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Maybe I'm going soft, but I'm getting fonder of Ngaio Marsh and her upper class sleuth, Roderick Alleyn!

This book makes it clear I've been pronouncing his name wrong all these years. It's Allen not Al-laine. & he is enjoying a holiday in Marsh's native New Zealand.Members of the Incorporated Playhouses acting troup offer Alleyne a seat in their train carriage. They are all on their way to the fictitious town of Middleton, near Ohakune in the centre of the North Island..

The Dayligh
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year I have embarked on a Ngaio Marsh challenge and, so far, am finding her books a little mixed. So far I have really enjoyed some and others, like this one, have left me a little under-whelmed.

Roderick Alleyn is on holiday, with the suggestion that he is ‘recovering,’ from an illness, or injury. However, he is not destined to get much relaxation after falling in with the Carolyn Dacres English Comedy Company, who are on tour in New Zealand. One of the players is Susan Max, a character ac
Dillwynia Peter
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The two things Ngaio Marsh loved were the theatre and New Zealand. Both feature in this book, and the love shines through. Marsh started after Christie and it is obvious that Marsh learnt the craft from those writers of the time that were pushing the boundaries of crime fiction. Thus, even from the start, her novels are strong in their construction and red herrings. This one is no exception.

In this mystery, Marsh is the great manipulator, as she slowly removes the potential suspects with strong
Vintage Murder (1937) by Ngaio Marsh finds Inspector Roderick Alleyn on a rest cure holiday in the large island country of New Zealand. He's recovering from some unnamed injury acquired in the line of duty and he's hoping for a trip full of nothing but peace and quiet. However, while traveling cross-country by train he encounters a touring acting company which includes one familiar face (found in the earlier story Enter a Murderer) and he makes friends with others. This results in an invitation ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Enjoyable outing with Alleyn in this fifth entry in the series.

Alleyn is in New Zealand, where he is on holiday recuperating from surgery (injured on the job?? I'll have to go back and look at #4!). On the boat from England, and then on the train in N.Z., he travelled along side a group of actors, including Miss Susan Max. The manager of the group is murdered after a performance one evening while Alleyn is there (amongst others) to celebrate the birthday of the leading lady (who is also the man
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Vintage Murder takes us readers on our first trip with Ngaio Marsh to her home of New Zealand. Ordered abroad for his health, Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn joins up with the Carolyn Dacres English Comedy Company, managed by Dacres’s husband, Alfred Mayor. Arriving in Middleton, the troupe performs to sold-out audiences, and on day three of the visit, Mayor throws a large birthday party for his wife. He has rigged up a fancy apparatus that, using stage techniques, will cause a lot of ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of good writing, classic detective fiction, anglophiles
Recommended to Sara by: Me - I used to read her years ago, had forgotten how good she is!
A nicely plotted murder, with a satisfying number of red herrings and some fun theatrical characters!
The thing about Marsh is, she really could write. And she knew her theater inside out, and liked the right stuff.

For instance, this quote: "when he spoke, one forgot his age, for his voice was quite beautiful: deep, and exquisitely modulated. He was one of that company of old actors that are only found in the West End of London. They still believe in using their voices as instruments, they spe
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
How had I missed Ngaio Marsh for so long? It must have been the silent 'g' that hinted at a dry British superiority that in fact could not be further from the truth. This is a hip, funny, clever mystery that takes place in a theater, a setting Marsh knew and brings fully to life. Vintage Murder unfolds in New Zealand. Wikipedia informed me that Marsh was born there so I was intrigued to read the only one of her mysteries set there.

Vintage Murder was written in 1937 and in many instances shows h
Dec 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, detective
Vintage Murder is one of four Ngaio Marsh murder mysteries set in New Zealand, although there is little to show that. A Maori doctor and a couple of local policemen have walk-on parts, and there is a very nice account of a picnic trip Commander Dalgliesh takes into the countryside as part of his holiday. Other than that, the characters are all members of an English acting company touring New Zealand. The story might as well be set in Bournemouth.

The pleasure in this story is Ngaio Marsh’s desc
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book involves two things particularly close to the heart of Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand and the theatre. Perhaps that is why Vintage Murder seems to have extra depth and was such a pleasure to read. The mystery itself and the plot were nothing terribly special but the setting and the characters were a joy.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not liked reading this book. It was rarely funny and had old racial prejudices running through this book from 1937, so--understandable in that sense as the world turns.
The good side (sort of) - Marsh hailed from New Zealand and this book took us there with a parcel of English actors Alleyn fell in with accidentally while supposedly getting a holiday for himself after some tense cases back in England. I had wanted to go back to what happened before he got on that ship taking him to Englan
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Three and a half stars, rounded up to four because of the excellent audiobook narrator, who enjoyed himself mightily taking off classic British ack-tohhrs whose voices and mannerisms are recognisable to any listener of a certain age. We don't get Olivier's over-the-top emoting, but it needs only that. Some of the lower orders are certainly recognisable! His "New Zealand" accent had a tendency to slip over to Sahth Effrica, but nobody's perfect.

Classic theatre mystery which starts on a train, giv
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, classics
A whodunnit of the old school. Set in the author’s homeland, 🇳🇿 New Zealand and involving the author’s favorite subject, the theater. Roderick Alleyn is on a rest cure from New Scotland Yard and attends the after theater party where the murder takes place because of his friendship with the actress Susan Max from a previous case. This book would be appealing to a reader who is very familiar the operations backstage. It is essentially a parade of clues: who was where when, how did the “accident “ ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading about the theater setting was enlightening and interesting. The characters came alive as well. I very much like Inspector Alleyn's personality.

"...there are people to whom one need not show off. It's a great comfort sometimes. I've got one of that kind."

"Your wife! But I didn't know----"

Alleyn sat back on his heels and laughed. No, no. I'm talking about a certain Detective-Inspector Fox. He's a large and slow and innocently straight-forward. He works with me at the Yard. I never have to
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know Ngaio Marsh before I read Vintage Muder. This book is a classic enthralling crime story that Agatha Christie's fans will enjoy.

Roderick Alleyn is on vacation in New Zealand, and on the train he meets an English theater company who's in a tour in the same country.
After their debut play, in Carolyn's birthday party, her husband Alfred Meyer, is hit by a champagne bottle and he dies.

Honestly, when I read the book's synopsis for the first time, I thought it would be stupid but I had a
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, mystery
I'm not sure whether this is excitement at the discovery of a mystery that has all the elements I enjoy in a Golden Age whodunnit, or gratitude to Marsh for writing about New Zealand in a way, that if self-conscious, is understandably so, and reminds me of an era I never knew, but is engrained in me as much as any part of New Zealand is -- which sounds affected and makes no sense, but there you are. There's just something about reading Ngaio Marsh talk about New Zealand that makes me nostalgic f ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
The writing is gorgeous in spots. Marsh is stretching her wings and finally taking flight as a genre author with her own voice. It strikes me that she may have found her detective star boring, since Alleyn had to be the strong noble aristocrat at all times, so Marsh really let herself go with her suspects' characters. For me, the best part of most of her novels is the oddball people who could also be murderers. However, I find myself recognizing Marsh suspects as I chat with real people, so doub ...more
Elena Santangelo
This was basically a police procedural--that is, the detective goes around interviewing suspects and witnesses, and collecting evidence and not much else. There isn't much action, and most of what there is takes places off stage (if you'll pardon the expression, since most of the characters are actors and much of the setting is in a theater). But anyway, if you like action in your mysteries, this one probably isn't for you. The general setting is New Zealand, though apart from one Maori characte ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
First sentence: The clop and roar of the train was an uneasy element somewhere at the back of the tall man's dreams.

Premise/plot: Inspector Alleyn can't escape work on his vacation to New Zealand. He finds himself in company with a company--a touring theatre company. He socializes with them on the train to their shared destination. He keeps on socializing with them once they arrive. A few are aware of who he is--the famous Inspector--but many are not. At a big party after their opening show, a p
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm giving this 3 stars, which is "liked it," because I can't say I "really liked it." but I did enjoy it! the majority of the book is Inspector Alleyn having conversations with various suspects and bystanders and reflecting on how they make him feel and how he has to present himself to get along with others. it's not my favorite format for a mystery, but it's still very readable and full of beautiful descriptions of New Zealand (and stage life).
Puzzle Doctor
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Dull entry in the mystery series. Not worth your time. Full review at
Reading this was like slogging through semi frozen pea soup. So boring and tedious. Confusing characters, too much talk about the functions of a theater, and a slow moving plot.
Alleyn takes a holiday from Scotland Yard to tour around New Zealand, where he meets up with an English touring theatre company. At their first stop, during a party to celebrate the leading lady's birthday, her husband the theatre manager is killed when a jeroboam of champagne falls onto his head. Despite his initial reluctance to get involved, Alleyn soon finds himself helping the local police team to investigate events.

Marsh is 'at home' here, using her knowledge of her home country and of the
Lynnee Argabright
This was a delightful, chatty little mystery book, written by Ngaio Marsh, who, in my impression, must be New Zealand's version of frequent-writing and famous Agatha Christie. The book had English and New Zealand characters, so I got to hear their slang expressions (slang from 1937, ha!) as well as the funny inner thoughts of the English narrator reacting to the oddities of his New Zealand peers. The writing style felt very laid back, like I was watching a 1940s movie; I practically read everyth ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vintage murder because the victim was killed by a falling jeroboam of champagne; vintage mystery because this was initially published in 1937.
Marsh's series detective Roderick Alleyn is on holiday to New Zealand to recuperate after being wounded, when he is present at what should have been a bottle of champagne delivered to the leading actress whose birthday it is. Alas, in spite of numerous practice runs, the bottle falls on and kills her husband. Much theatrical planning went into this on-stag
This is the first book of the series to take place in the author's home country of New Zealand, though it gives the reader less feel for the country than the later books. Instead we get a detailed look into the world of the theater, where Marsh was also at home. A fun touch for those reading the series in order is the return of Susan Max from Enter a Murderer, the #2 book.

No one could ever accuse Marsh of not playing fair with the reader when it comes to her mysteries. All the details you need t
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery
As with the other books, this is a nice little mystery with a carefully set up puzzle. It relies on all sorts of coincidence and such, but at least we're seeing more of Alleyn as a person, and the omnipresent Nigel Bathgate has not contrived to get himself into Alleyn's pocket for his holiday.

From what I gather, the setting here is close to Marsh's heart in two ways: it's set in New Zealand, and in the context of a theatrical company. That gives it some good moments of description: there's one i
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this book, Roderick Alleyn is in New Zealand for a medical rest (although the problem is never specified), and he gets involved with a murder in a traveling British theater troop he has met on the train. A bit more humor is present, both in Alleyn's internal thoughts and with issues between the locals and the Brits in the terminology they each use. One of the characters from the first theater mystery involving Alleyn is also in this group.

Alleyn, for the second time in the first 5 novels of
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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)
  • 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)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
“There are people to whom one need not show off. It’s a great comfort sometimes.” 7 likes
“My poor fat Alfie! He was not a romantic husband, but he was so kind and understanding. He never minded whether I was amusing or dull. He thought it impossible that I could be dull. I didn't have to bother about any of that.” 3 likes
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