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The Nursing Home Murder

(Roderick Alleyn #3)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,613 ratings  ·  244 reviews
When Britain's Home Secretary complained of abdominal pains, it seemed like a simple case of appendicitis. But minutes after his operation, the ill-fated politician lay dead on the table. When Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to dissect the situation, he finds many a likely suspect, including a vengeful surgeon, a lovelorn nurse, an unhappy wife, and a cab ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1999 by HarperCollins (first published 1935)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) I found this definition with one quick Google, on several sites: "Scally is a derogatory term used in the Northwest of England especially around Liver…moreI found this definition with one quick Google, on several sites: "Scally is a derogatory term used in the Northwest of England especially around Liverpool. Roughly synonymous with Chav or Ned.The term is associated with youth with a particular style of dress. The term denotes "a roguish, boisterous, disruptive or irresponsible male", and is derived from "Scallywag", meaning "a disreputable person".

It is true that before the NHS, orderlies and under-nurses were percieved to have come from the dregs of society, the sort of person who couldn't get anything else. I've read some British nursing memoirs and the training available to under-nurses and such was pretty darn basic, which may have something to do with that perception.(less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for people who want Christie Lite ™
Shelves: mystery, male-lead
Things I've Learned From British Mysteries

1. When a detective says, "oh, one other small thing...," it isn't.

2. Brush up on your vocabulary when asking the pathologist for favors:

"Alleyn went out, changed his mind and stuck his head round the door.
'If I send you a pill or two, will you have them dissected for me?'
'If you'd rather. Good-bye.'

3. When dealing with nobility, it is best to mind your manners:

"'I asked you to come and see me,' she began very quietly, 'because I believe my hu
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

I'm starting to see a pattern - I prefer Marsh's crime novels when they have a theatrical setting.

But this title has a very authentic feel. It was co-written with Marsh's gynaecologist, Henry Jellet (he gets an author credit on my edition.) You can almost smell the antiseptic. So the hospital setting felt fine.

Even the political world felt real. It is when Marsh strays into the world of "Bolshies" (with the quite annoyingly perky Nigel & Angela) that things come a little unstuck, with cardbo
Hmm, now I’ve given this book 3 stars, is it 20% less good than the first 2 books, well no, but it is not a 4 star book in my opinion. I mean, I still enjoyed it, and I'm liking Alleyn and Fox, but felt this novel was a little weaker than the first two. I said I wasn't going to read number 3 straight away as I didn't want to overdose on Alleyn just to play catch up, but I was enjoying these so much I went ahead. So is my 3 stars a result of this overdose or not. I shall seriously take a break th ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third novel featuring Roderick Alleyn and was first published in 1935. Home Secretary, Sir Derek O’Callaghan is very involved in introducing a Bill to deal with anarchists and has received several threats to his life. During the beginning of this novel, we are aware that Sir Derek has been having serious abdominal pains and has ignored suggestions he seek medical help until after the Bill has been successful. Sir Derek’s wife, the icy cool Cicely, does not press him to accept help, b ...more
Oct 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery
This is my third Ngaio Marsh novel and I still have somewhat mixed feelings. I'm not into her detective character at all -- there's been too little personality and depth, just a lot of surface shine -- and the structure is now formulaic. Set-up for a murder with many potential motives -> murder which is very awkward for lots of people -> Alleyn investigates without explaining much to anyone -> Alleyn has a reconstruction done -> this flushes out the murderer, who incriminates himself without nee ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ngaio-marsh
Sir Derek O'Callaghan an MP has an attack of acute appendicitis. He goes into a private hospital for an operation. Sir John Philip operates assisted by Dr. Roberts, the anaesthetist; Dr. Thoms, the assistant surgeon; Sister Marigold, the matron; Nurse Banks, the circulating nurse; and Jane Harden, the scrub nurse. The operation apparently goes well, but O'Callaghan suddenly weakens and within an hour is dead. Interesting in those days a nursing home was a private hospital. Lots of suspects with ...more
Ivonne Rovira
May 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die-hard Alleyn fans only
Recommended to Ivonne by: Uncle Silas
I’ve read nearly two dozen of Ngaio Marsh’s wonderful novels featuring Roderick Alleyn, a detective inspector and the younger son of a baronet, but somehow I managed to skip The Nursing Home Murder, the third novel in the series. Thanks to Uncle Silas for pointing that out, and I’ve now remedied the situation.

In this novel, first released in 1935, Sir Derek O’Callaghan, the English Home Secretary, is rushed to the hospital for unbearable abominable pains only to die soon after his operation. Soo
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
A singularly cold and dull mystery finished off with a ridiculous solution.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm reading through the Inspector Alleyn mysteries in order with the Reading the Detectives group at Goodreads. This third mystery is the best yet, with Alleyn really starting to come into his own as a character. He is still witty and sometimes silly, but there are a few more hints of hidden depths.

The title could be a bit misleading to contemporary readers, suggesting the book is set in a care home. In fact, though, the setting is a private hospital, well before the arrival of the NHS. A top p
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just the third in the Roderick Alleyn series, this book supplies us with a very interesting set of circumstances and characters featuring the Home Secretary, Prime Minister, Bolsheviks, and some helpful friends of Alleyn's in his rather complete way of investigating anyone and everyone before reaching his conclusion of who killed the Home Secretary. His co-worker Fox plays a small role in this case. In a nutshell, the Home Secretary has been suffering stomach pain he tries to ignore but then req ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third novel featuring Roderick Alleyn and was first published in 1935. Home Secretary, Sir Derek O’Callaghan is very involved in introducing a Bill to deal with anarchists and has received several threats to his life. During the beginning of this novel, we are aware that Sir Derek has been having serious abdominal pains and has ignored suggestions he seek medical help until after the Bill has been successful. Sir Derek’s wife, the icy cool Cicely, does not press him to accept help, b ...more
Roger Pettit
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Ngaio Marsh, a New Zealander, was one of a group of women writers who dominated what is sometimes known as the Golden Age of British detective fiction that occurred in the 1930s and the 1940s. The others were Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham. Marsh does not have Christie's fiendish ingenuity when it comes to plotting (a characteristic which, in my view, is what sets Christie apart from other writers of her era and since, and which has resulted in her continued pre-eminence ...more
1935, written with help on background by Henry Jellett.
#3 Inspector Roderick Alleyn, Scotland Yard, London;
famous - and hated - politician goes into private hospital for appendicitis operation and dies under peculiar circumstances; classic cosy thriller, three-and-one-half-stars, not her very best but still entertaining.

Sir Derek O'Callaghan, Home Secretary, is in the process of introducing a stringent anti-Bolshivism bill in Parliament when he becomes very ill and is rushed to the private ho
I discovered Ngaio Marsh my senior year in high school and over the next few years read every one of her books I could get my hands on. I am very happy to see that they are coming out as ebooks (this is the second one available through my library).
At the insistence of the deceased wife, Inspector Alleyn is puzzling over the death of the Home Secretary who died after an emergency operation. His wife insists that the HS was murdered by the Anarchists and Communists who were threatening him. The ge
Michele Brack
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
In an effort to read more of the books that I actually own rather than piling up book after book from the library, I decided to finish this book (because it's part of an omnibus). I am still very much enjoying this series, and it even inspired me to entertain the notion of perhaps getting into other British mystery books (maybe Agatha Christie will be next).

The one thing that I have to really say about these books, other than how witty they are (in a very dry sense) and that when I read them I m
Apr 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
Say it ain’t so Ngaio. Finding out a writer who is like a favorite aunt used to have an interest in eugenics is pretty depressing. It pretty much wrecked this book for me and if I read another it will have to be one written after World War II. I can only hope she evolved and I believe in allowing people to evolve. This wasn’t a full on book about it but just that somebody so smart didn’t reject that lethal fascist bullshit out of hand puts me off. Big time.
While intellectually I can see that th
The Nursing Home Murder (1935) is the third Inspector Alleyn novel by Ngaio Marsh. The Bolshevik's have reared their ugly heads again (see A Man Lay Dead) and have been sending death threats to Sir Derek Callaghan, the Home Secretary. Sir Derek is due to present a very important bill before Parliament and there are those who would prefer that bill never see the light of day. He has also been experiencing bouts of extreme abdominal pain--refusing to see a doctor until he has launched his bill. Bu ...more
Alan Teder
The Operating Room Murder*
Review of the Collins Crime Club hardcover edition (2017) of the 1935 original
'Please sit down,' she murmured. They sat facing each other. Inspector Fox regarded her with respectful attention.
'I asked you to come here and see me,' she began very quietly, 'because I believe my husband to have been murdered.'
Fox did not speak for a moment. He sat stockily, very still, looking gravely before him.
'I'm sorry to hear that, Lady O'Callaghan,' he said at last. 'It sounds rat
Dan Myatt
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am loving Ngiao Marsh's books! This one had 2 of my great loves a medical thriller and its a vintage golden age crime novel.

My partner is a Dr so there was a bit of "what's this and what's that" but that did not spoil the story for me at all.

Great characters, wonderful writing style. I loved this book!
The Nursing Home Murders by Ngaio Marsh.

This was my first Ngaio Marsh/Inspector Alleyn mystery I've read in book form. Marvelously written with vivid detail given to each personality.

The Home Secretary has a painful case of appendicitis and is taken to the hospital. Unfortunately Sir Derek O'Callaghan waited a bit too late and dies shortly after the surgery. But is that all to this death?

Lady O'Callaghan doesn't believe Sir Derek died of natural causes and employs Inspector Alleyn to do some inv
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sir Derek O’Callaghan, Home Secretary of England, has been too anxiously pushing through an anti-anarchy bill in Parliament to deal with the growing pain in his stomach in 1935’s The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh. Collapsing at the introduction of the bill, O’Callaghan gets rushed to the nursing home of Sir John Phillips with a ruptured appendix, needing emergency surgery. Sir Derek gets taken right into surgery against the urgings of Sir John, who encourages Lady O’Callaghan to get a diffe ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a refreshing change from Heyer's Inspector Hemmingway, with his caustic tongue and plain rudeness to people! Inspector Alleyn has a keen mind and impeccable manners and he dignifies others around him no matter their station in life. And let's not forget the redoubtable Fox as he assists Alleyn. I like their interactions and dialogue with one another. I am truly enjoying this series. ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-classic
Sir Derek O'Callaghan, the Home Secretary, falls ill with suspected appendicitis and is rushed to a private hospital. The operation appears to be successful, but hours later Sir Derek is dead. Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn investigates and finds that the surgeon and the theatre nurse both had reason to hate Sir Derek. They were not the only ones - he was also introducing a Bill to strengthen the penalties against anarchist groups and had received threats - and Alleyn soon finds further connec ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Not the best in her mystery series, "The Nursing Home Murder", although not a lengthy read, was slow-moving for me. The author attempts to illustrate how unlikely it would be for murder in the setting of a sterile hospital operating room (no fingerprints!). However she becomes a little too technical with the procedures (this syringe, that syringe. This anesthetic, this amount, that amount to be given at this time, that time...) for the reader. Characters were not as realistically drawn and it wa ...more
Tansy Roberts
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent little mystery with a political and medical twist -- one of the most hated members of government dies during emergency surgery, and nearly every member of the surgical staff had reason to kill him.
“Come on,” he said wearily. “Let’s put two and two together and make a mess.”
Jill Hutchinson
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great read by one of the masters of the British golden age mystery, Ngaio Marsh. Don't be misled by the "nursing home" in the England, a nursing home is a hospital for patients recovering from surgery or illness. In this case, the Home Secretary dies mysteriously after emergency surgery and the list of suspects ranges from Communists to pharmacists. Roderick Alleyn and his faithful partner in detection. Fox, are on the case and the game is afoot. Add this one to your myst ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Most enjoyable mystery in the grand old tradition. Inspector Alleyn is a cool, smart Scotland Yard inspector with a solid assistant in Fox. Also has two old friends from his first book, Nigel and Angela. The mystery is interesting, involving the murder of a Conservative politician on the operating table. Lots of interesting suspects, twists and turns, involving a failed romance, Bolshevists, etc. Super story and well-crafted.
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Alleyn is the inspector in this case. And it's a "closed room" mystery, for the most part. Only that room was an operating theater.

There were numerous characters but I never got to their heart or personality. Not enough depth in the characterizations for the possible culprit, IMHO. These are like stilted, and much cozier Christie without the wit or the delicate insights into character and motive.

The writing is clear and the overall portrayal for the genre, average.
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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)
  • 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)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)

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114 likes · 38 comments
“He was shown into the drawing-room, an apartment of great elegance and no character. Above the mantelpiece hung a portrait in pastel of Cicely O’Callaghan. The artist had dealt competently with the shining texture of the dress and hair, and had made a conscientious map of the face. Alleyn felt he would get about as much change from the original as he would from the picture.” 2 likes
“Do you read crime fiction?”

“I dote on it. It’s such a relief to escape from one’s work into an entirely different atmosphere.”

“It’s not as bad as that,” Nigel protested.

“Perhaps not quite as bad as that. Any faithful account of police investigations, in even the most spectacular homicide case, would be abysmally dull. I should have thought you’d seen enough of the game to realise that. The files are a plethora of drab details, most of them entirely irrelevant. Your crime novelist gets over all that by writing grandly about routine work and then selecting the essentials. Quite rightly. He’d be the world’s worst bore if he did otherwise.”
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