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Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn #32)
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Light Thickens

(Roderick Alleyn #32)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,788 ratings  ·  141 reviews
"Is this a dagger which I see before me..."
Four murders. Three witches. A fiendish lady. A homicidal husband. A ghost. No wonder "Macbeth "is considered such bad luck by theatre people that they won't mention its name out loud. But the new London production of "the Scottish play" promises to be a smash until gruesome pranks begin plaguing rehearsals. And when the last act
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 15th 2000 by Minotaur Books (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  1,788 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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Start your review of Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn #32)
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1982, this is the thirty-second, and last, in the Roderick Alleyn series, aside from, “Money in the Morgue,” completed by Stella Duffy. This novel sees us returning to The Dolphin Theatre, which first appeared in, “Death at the Dolphin,” in 1967 and we have some familiar characters.

Peregrine Jay is putting on ‘Macbeth,’ at the Dolphin and some of the cast are superstitious about this, seen as unlucky, play. There are some unpleasant pranks during rehearsals – which are laboriously rep
Nancy Wilson
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is supposedly the last book that Marsh wrote and I can't help but wonder if someone finished it for her. This book was tedious and the murder while fully anticipated was still out of left field. What I mean is from the beginning of the book which focuses on Shakespeare's Macbeth, the when and the with what are obvious. The who and the why are the only questions and sadly they remain the questions after the fact. So much attention is devoted to the play and the production of it the villain i ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The last book of the Alleyn series now read and appreciated but not wholeheartedly enjoyed. A Macbeth production in London is portrayed in detail and would be of interest to lovers of that play. Me not so much.
Alleyn is in the audience opening night for the beheading that actually occurs.
Nandakishore Varma
Ngaio Marsh writes the traditional "cosy" British mystery, with a murder presented like a mathematical puzzle, solved ingeniously by the detective leaving the rest of the characters and readers gasping. Though not as intricate as the plots of Agatha Christie, Dame Ngaio also writes very clever mysteries - and Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is a likeable sleuth. However, this one (the last of the series) left me totally unimpressed.

Ngaio Marsh's second love is the theatre: and many of her storie
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Light Thickens by Ngaio Marsh, the Dolphin Theater, under the production of Peregrin Jay, is holding a performance of Macbeth. This play is known as a cursed play to the superstitious in the theater, who refuse to quote from the play or even to name it, calling it instead The Scot’s Play. In fact, the book’s official description on Amazon states that “tradition requires anyone who utters its proper name backstage to leave the building, spin around, spit, curse, and then request permission to ...more
Simon Mcleish
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 1999.

It is perhaps fitting that Ngaio Marsh's last novel should have a theatrical setting, given the importance of the theatre in her life. (Symmetrically, her first novel, Enter A Murderer, is also set in a theatre during a production of Macbeth.) It does use the hoary old device of the acted death of a character turning out to be a real killing of the actor, one which she herself has used at least three times, but the story is well enough written
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This discard from the public library was a serendipitous choice. I was glad I decided to take this enjoyable novel home with me. This, the last work of Dame Ngaio, was a murder mystery involving a theater company presenting a production of Macbeth. For all of Part 1, the book showed in detail how a theatrical production is put together from its earliest stages of reading, blocking, lighting, props management, through rehearsals, to final, polished performance. We glimpse some of a director's ide ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was well on its way to 4 stars until the ending, where I thought it fell off a bit. It was listed as a related reading in our school textbook next to Macbeth, described as a murder mystery involving a production of that play. It took some searching to find it, but I'm glad I did.

The action centers around the Dolphin Theater, where director Peregrine Jay is assembling what critics will call a flawless production of "the Scottish play." He doesn't believe in the bad karma that supposedl
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Light Thickens is Ngaio Marsh's last book. It's a long 20 year sequel to Death at the Dolphin. Wiki states "that the subject was close to the author's heart and in 1981 she wrote to her close friends Maureen (née Rhodes) and John Balfour that the novel had been in her mind for a long time, was 'hell' to write and would, she thought, appeal to theatre people rather than to her usual fans. Her characteristic modesty proved her wrong, as the novel sold extremely well, receiving especially favourabl ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last title in my 32 book quest to read all of the Roderick Alleyn books in order. Found it slow going. Although I have just seen Macbeth in the past 6 months and understood many of the allusions to the play, I found them a bit annoying in the book. Love Peregrine Jay and his family and remember them from the earlier Dolphin Theatre title, which was one of Marsh's best titles. Still and all, loved reading these all and am happy I devoted the time to it.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ngaio-marsh
My first Ngaio Marsh novel and the last one she wrote. I liked the murder taking place during a Macbeth play with on stage. I felt there was a little too much detail about the play. Gastion was a great character and there were a few red herrings on who was the murderer. Overall I would definitely ready another Marsh novel.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, brit-lit
Are the superstitions about Shakespeare's play Macbeth true? The actors at the Dolphin Theatre are about to have their worst suspicions come to life.

Noticing a common response to Marsh's books--not all that complicated of a mystery, but still an enjoyable story.

Alan Teder
Investigation of the Scottish Play
Review of the Felony & Mayhem paperback edition (2016) of the 1982 original

New Zealander Ngaio Marsh earned her "Damery" not through her lifetime of writing but through her promotion of theatre. It is fitting then that the swan song of her Scotland Yard CID detective Roderick Alleyn should be wrapped up in the world of theatre as well. In Light Thickens, Alleyn is even on hand to witness the crime as a member of the audience seeing a performance of Shakespeare's
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
The theatre aspect was interesting, particularly to readers like me who know little about stage workings or Macbeth superstitions. Having studied the play briefly in high school and disliked it, I was surprised to find myself quite interested in the characters, both in their roles and out of them. Ngaio Marsh did a great job of making the play seem exciting even to those who're largely uninterested in it.

However, I found the mystery aspect of it rather underwelming. For someone who is advertised
Kathleen Dixon
Ngaio Marsh has a very interesting style in that we don't meet the detective until well over halfway through the book. Well, we have a fleeting introduction but it isn't until page 151 that he really arrives on the scene, and then the murder is on page 157.

The setting is a London theatre putting on a production of Macbeth. Now apparently this is known as an unlucky play, so we have tension between the superstitious and the not, with an unscrupulous character playing on it. We also have a distinc
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dame Ngaio"s last Alleyn mystery interweaves scenes from the "Scottish play" with a contemporary
theatrical murder. As a producer in her day job., she knows whereof she writes. Marsh is not as hard on the brain cells as Sayers; I enjoy her more than Christie. A fine mystery.
Nancy Ellis
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was Ngaio Marsh's last book, and even though I haven't read all of them, I enjoyed it the most of the ones I've read so far. What better setting for a mystery in the theatre than Macbeth, or "the damned Scots play" to the superstitious. Peregrine Jay (a character featured in an earlier book) is directing the play and has no patience with superstitions, so he works diligently to prevent his cast from thinking about them. In spite of some disturbing pranks, the play goes well until a few week ...more
Daisy Madder
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The 32nd and final Inspector Alleyn novel, and Marsh wisely brings him back to the arena of her expertise- the theatre- where the suspiciously un-ill-omened rehearsals for a production of The Scottish Play culminate in an appropriately gory murder in front of an audience. I'm not sure either the how or why dunnit really make sense, but I'll forgive her that for creating an atmosphere in which the off stage action is as brooding and claustrophobic as the play itself. And now I've got a real hanke ...more
Colin Mitchell
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I have seen some of the series of Alleyn mysteries on TV and it is the end of the period of classic crime writers that I usually enjoy, unfortunately this one left be disappointed. Set in the Dolphin theatre the book was largely taken up with the workings of the company and its director Peregrine Jay and the workings of setting the Scottish play before an audience. The crime was committed late in the story and Alleyn's part was peripheral to the story. Disappointing ending saved only by the obse ...more
Jack Heath
Mar 19, 2019 marked it as to-read
Synopsis: the production of The Scottish Play promises to be a smash, but gruesome pranks are plaguing rehearsals; Alleyn takes centre stage.
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Dame Ngaio Marsh was an actress, playwright, and theatre producer, now best known for her mystery novels. This murder mystery features Peregrine Jay, a theatre producer at London’s Dolphin Theatre.

Light Thickens was Marsh’s last book, published posthumously. The murder in the book takes place during a production of Macbeth.

What distinguishes this book is the author’s intense admiration for Shakespeare and the theatre. As you read, you find out what it is like to choose a cast and direct a play.
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2014
During a production of Macbeth, superstitions about the play lead to various strange and unlucky things happening backstage, eventually culminating in the murder of the lead actor. The mystery itself is extremely lacking (who did it? The crazy guy! Why? Because he's crazy! Aren't you shocked and stunned by this revelation?), but it doesn't matter much because clearly this book is way more interested in the details of preparing a theatrical production – the murder doesn't even happen until about ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely odd murder mystery. I suspect only theater goers who have actually seen MacBeth multiple times will savor the meticulous detail surrounding the staging of the play. The character Rangi, a Maori actor working in London is a scrupulously rendered minor character; the various performers of the play, as well as their personae are well-defined, with the two severe eccentrics (madmen) gradually emerging. The three boys on the outskirts of the action, and the various back-of-house ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
One thing you can say for Ngaio Marsh's books - they're not all the same. This, her final novel, is completely set in the theater and the first half of the book is consumed with the rehearsal of MacBeth. There are the usual well-drawn characters, but no real mystery till past the half-way point. I didn't mind but I suspect some people will get impatient. Marsh knew the theater well, and having directed MacBeth, she lets the reader feel as if they're part of the cast. (I'd love to see a productio ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Mistakenly requested this book thinking it was the next one in the series, but it turned out to be the last. Having discovered my error, will continue the sequence where I left off.

There's no wrapping up or finality to Alleyn's story. It was published in 1982, the year Marsh died, so she must have intended to continue writing; though in her late 80s, how long might that have been? Somewhere in a parallel universe in the 1950s or 1960s, Chief Superintendent Alleyn is still solving murder cases wi
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
The plot centers around a performance of Shakespeare's great drama, Macbeth. I think Ngaio Marsh has attempted to build suspense in this story in the same way suspense and tension build in the play. I think she has succeeded. This is her last book and the setting is a familiar one, the Dolphin Theater, which we know from Killer Dolphin earlier in the series. It's a fitting farewell to our journey with Roderick Alleyn. ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, 2012
I read most of Marsh's books a long, long time ago. So this was a reread. I seem to recall enjoying her books more than I do now. This is one for theatre buffs or Macbeth fans. The mystery is transparent. The whole thing skims like a throwaway line in a play, the kind of thing good for a weekend when thinking is not allowed and dozing is the order of the day. The strange thing about this book was the copyright said 1982, yet the whole thing read like a 1930s novel.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much fun. The eccentric theatrical setting, the creepy manifestations of the curse of MacBeth (or is it?), the charmingly grisly murder -- all delicious. It doubtless helps to have a comfortable familiarity with Macbeth.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Too much macbeth, not enough story. I really wanted to like this book, but gave up after a third of it.
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is Marsh's last mystery but she either didn't know it was her last or didn't want her readers to feel like it was her last. There's no big closure. It's just another mystery.

Except it's not, really. It's a novel of putting on a play. Some of the characters from Killer Dolphin return to put on Macbeth and the bulk of the book is an exploration of the vagaries of putting on a show. The death seems secondary. And, indeed, the reason the person was killed, and the reason the person who killed t
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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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