Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)” as Want to Read:
Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn #11)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,271 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
The party's over when murder makes an entrance...

With the notion of bringing together the most bitter of enemies for his own amusement, a bored, mischievous millionaire throws a house party. As a brutal snowstorm strands the unhappy guests, the party receives a most unwelcome visitor: death. Now the brilliant inspector Roderick Alleyn must step in to decipher who at the pa
Paperback, 346 pages
Published March 18th 2011 by HarperCollins (first published 1941)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Death and the Dancing Footman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Death and the Dancing Footman

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Did not like the premise at the beginning--seemed too controlling and manipulative of Jonathan Royal to have a weekend party where everyone started off with reasons not to like each other. The plastic surgery "mistake" was an interesting twist. As the book progressed, my likes and dislikes of the characters went back and forth. The romance was nice-- felt the people involved (no spoiler alert needed) were due something nice in life. And of course, snowbound people who have all sorts of quirks in ...more
Gillian Kevern
I loved this! I think it may be my new favourite Ngaio Marsh.

I must have read this before, but I had no memory of it. I picked out a suspect early on and thought 'I must have read this before, because X is obviously guilty.' And the story continued and more and more clues pointing to X were found--and then the rug was pulled completely out from under me. I did not see the solution--and it fell together perfectly.

Death and the Dancing Footman is also interesting because it is a book written dur
Ivonne Rovira
Needless to say, Dame Ngaio Marsh can write some riveting mysteries: Death In A White Tie, A Man Lay Dead, and Enter A Murderer come immediately to mind. However, at times, Marsh becomes so enthralled with ridiculing some of her characters that she spends entirely too much time on the back story and her writing veers into tiresome parody. Such was the case in Overture To Death, first published in 1939. So, too, with Death and the Dancing Footman, published two years later.

The flamboyant Jonathan
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gialli, favorites
E' anche più bello dei gialli della Christie, ai quali, come si legge nella quarta di copertina, è sempre stato paragonato. Ricorda molto i giochi da tavolo tipo Cluedo, dove l'azione si svolge tutta all'interno di una lussuosa dimora di inizio/metà Novecento con tanto di maggiordomo. Ma vi anticipo che non è stato lui. A dire il vero non è che il colpo di scena finale sia così stupefacente e la maggior parte dei lettori saprà su chi far cadere i giusti sospetti già un paio di capitoli dopo il d ...more
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ah, Ngaio Marsh. What is it about you that I don't really care about whodunit?

I figured this one out. Easily. The mystery was thin and rather transparent.

But who cares? Especially when one gets to relish in her characterizations and her way with words. Descriptions like these make these cozies worth reading, even if you aren't a mystery buff;

"A popinjay," he muttered, "a stock figure of dubious gallantry." And he pronounced the noise usually associated with the word "Pshaw."

" ... [he's] bone
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
3.5 stars, but rounding up, because I think it's one of the better Marsh's.

The pros:
-They mystery itself is solid. And sort of appropriately unpleasant.
-There is no Nigel Bathgate, who, when he has a reason to be around is fine, but when he doesn't is tedious (e.g.: "A Surfeit of Lampreys)
-Troy makes an exceptionally brief appearance
-The host is fairly awful, in an effective way. He invites a bunch of people who hate each other to his house for the weekend, because he's bored, and interested in
Victoria Mixon
Jun 23, 2010 rated it liked it
What's not to love about a murder mystery that gets solved because somebody's footman can't resist shaking his booty to "Boops-a-Daisy" when nobody's looking?

Ngaio Marsh cheats shamelessly when she throws in innumerable clues to the guilt of someone who, for that much authorial attention, really has no business wandering off scot-free. The solution's a bit Ellery Queen-ish, and the descriptions of a jolly brass Buddha as some kind of ghastly, horrifying relic of a loathsome pagan cult get old. (
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the better ones, I have all of her books but one and can't find it.
Hard to keep up with all the details as you're driving but pretty diverting. Lovely voicing of characters. But not my favorite Ngaio Marsh.
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Very odd book in this series. The story just dragged on and on, and went round in circles. Alleyn didn't make an appearance until nearly the end.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Royal assembles a house party of people who dislike each other, treating it as a game - he thinks perhaps he can get some of them together. The guests include the Complines, mother and two sons, William and Nicholas; Aubrey Mandrake, a playwright with a club foot, who is very sensitive about his origins; Dr. Hart, a plastic surgeon and this girlfriend Madame Elise, a beauty specialist; Lady Hersey Amblington, Jonathan's cousin and a rival beauty specialist; and Chloris Wynne, William Co ...more
Monika Pawłowska
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked most of the previous books from this series, but this one was a real pleasure. The setting with a group of people in a isolated country house is given a few twists. All the different and often tense relationships between the characters are a result of deliberate actions of the host, who wanted a 'dramatic' atmosphere. The characters notice soon enough that their situation is peculiar and start making allusions to crime novels and detection (including a work by Dorothy Sayers when they di ...more
Nancy Cook-senn
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Insipid host invites a collection of "friends" with histories of hatred and antagonism to his country house for a snowy winter weekend. Mayhem and murder ensue. Visiting nearby, Alleyn is called to sort out the mystery, with the important clue concerning timing provided by the young footman who paused in the hallway to dance to a favorite tune playing on the radio in the murder room.
Matt Bolton
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Written in the early days of WWII. Somewhat dated now with an upstairs/downstairs view of British society. However, it's a readable example of the whodunnit crime fiction. I'm much more used to seeing this genre on TV, with Mrs Marple, etc.

Characters are well written, with a surprisingly progressive view of foreigners. Some may be offended by the implicit sexism.

Mark Macatee
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Honestly there just wasn't enough of Allyn. Otherwise it was fine.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Book Riot Read Harder 2017 - A book published between 1900 and 1950
Sarah Webber
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dreary, never-ending house party. I guessed whodunit half-way through and still had to finish to make sure.
Mary Kay Kare
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-british
Very disappointing. Once you reject what is being obviously shoved at you, there is only one possible answer. And that is indeed the solution. No fun st all.
Lorraine Dunlap
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The host of this weekend in the country is twisted, so I didn't give it five stars.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una delle più classiche ambientazioni per un romanzo poliziesco dell'epoca d'oro (una villa isolata) e un gruppo di personaggi legati da segreti rancori; che il tutto sfoci in un omicidio, può poi sorprendere?

L'abilità della Marsh sta tutta nel riuscire a creare una crescente suspense che accompagna il lettore per buona parte del libro: la morte, infatti, si palesa solo a racconto inoltrato, preceduta, però, da una costante tensione che non fa che incrementare progressivamente.

Il padrone di casa
Simon Mcleish
Mar 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in June 1998.

Another traditional crime novel, written during a period in which it is clear that Marsh was slipping more and more into re-using the formulaic plot ideas of the genre. Death and the Dancing Footman is from the snowbound-upper-class-houseparty subgenre; the houseparty is gathered by its host, who wants to bring together seven people who have good reason to kill each other (two brothers, lifelong rivals, and the girl who has jilted one for the oth
I can't find the spelling for the characters so some of the names may be a bit off.

A house party has been carefully assembled. The host, Jonathon Royal, has "plotted" to bring together a group of people with who to make a "flesh and blood" art project He wants to confine a group of people in his house to see how drama might unfold. To that end, he has invited seven characters with an "emotional, intellectual tension and antagonism."
He explains to his "audience," Audrey Mandrake, a playwright, wh
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm reading the Alleyn series in order, and this is the best one so far. Sure, it echoes a lot of the characteristics of some of the previous ones. Eight people gather for a weekend in an isolated country house. One of them is involved in the theatre, a passion of Marsh's. The plot is meticulously (as usual, perhaps too much so) in terms of the actions of each individual, and in terms of the layout of the house. There is a romance between two young people. At least two of the women are described ...more
Lady Aeval
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-ngaio
Narrator - James Saxon

Narration - Of the narrator's of Ngaio Marsh books, James Saxon is my favorite. In some of the recordings the quality makes him a bit hard to understand, but overall his tone and narrative style suit the Roderick Alleyn series perfectly.

Characters - The characters in this book are an ensemble cast of enemies at a house party hosted by a bored man who wants to build his own real-life drama play. I found there were no characters in this book which I disliked entirely which t
Rog Harrison
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I actually read this as part of an omnibus which also contained "Surfeit of Lampreys" and "Colour scheme". I first started reading the author's books in the 1960s and over the years I think I have read all her books and some of them many times. However I have only read this one once before back in the late 1970s and the only things I remembered about this book were the names of the characters. This was first published in 1942 and is set in a country house where the owner, for his own amusement, ...more
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I have yet to find a Marsh book that I enjoyed as much as Night at the Vulcan, but this one comes close.

It's always interesting when your cast is completely composed of characters that is utterly unlikeable for the most part. Almost every one of them had traits that made them repulsive to both the reader and the other characters in the novel, and putting them in one party together on the weekend is asking for a murder to happen. Rather than rooting for any particular character, you're left to fo
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambitious, brutal, and flawed.

I thought that NM tried something different in this book, but didn't necessarily pull it off. In every book she seems to skewer some group, whether it is aspiring actresses or folk dancers or surrealist playwrights, and initially, I wasn't sure who she was skewering. There were a few digs at experimental theater, but instead of really sinking in her teeth, she chose to make Aubrey Mandrake sympathetic rather than absurd. So who is getting the NM Treatment? Ultimatel
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really thought I knew who the murderer was until the final chapters and then I wondered. And then I found out I was wrong. I still think my suspect would have made for an excellent story ending too.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From Detective Roderick Alleyn’s first appearance in A Man Lay Dead, he revealed both doubts about killing killers and a refusal to let his doubts keep him from tracking them down. In this book, set during the sitzkrieg or "phony war" of 1940, Marsh explores the difference, if any, between murder, capital punishment and war. The war is omnipresent, almost another character, lurking grimly offstage, unseen but affecting everything and everyone.

Alleyn and Inspector Fox are aware of the irony of t
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marsh does it again. This is another absolutely perfect British mystery, set at a house party on a snowy weekend. Wealthy dilettante Jonathan Royal decides to have some fun by inviting a group of his friends to a weekend at his manor home - a group of friends who are all, in one way or another, completely antagonistic to at least one other person in the party. Not surprisingly, scenes occur with increasing frequency, but no one expects attempted murder, let alone repeated attempted murder - & ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Flowers for the Judge (Albert Campion #7)
  • The Listening Eye (Miss Silver, #28)
  • Holy Disorders (Gervase Fen, #2)
  • The Documents in the Case
  • Detection Unlimited (Inspector Hemingway Mystery #4)
  • To Love and Be Wise (Inspector Alan Grant, #4)
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
More about Ngaio Marsh...

Other Books in the Series

Roderick Alleyn (1 - 10 of 32 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)