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Died in the Wool

(Roderick Alleyn #13)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,106 ratings  ·  135 reviews

One summer evening in 1942, Flossie Rubrick, goes to her husband's wool shed to rehearse a patriotic speech - and disappears. Three weeks later she turns up at an auction, packed inside one of her own bales of wool and very, very dead

Published March 18th 2011 by HarperCollins (first published 1945)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,106 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
A little disappointing

This was a reread for me, but from a long time ago.

The main thing that surprised me was how little this murder mystery evoked New Zealand for me, in spite of the setting on a South Island sheep farm. This was because the majority of the main characters were either British or had strong British links, so this felt like any other early Marsh with people fond of melodramatic utterances. The exceptions were the murder victim herself, who really seemed so much like a female NZ M
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the previous Roderick Alleyn mystery, “Colour Scheme,” this novel is set in her native New Zealand. Published in 1945, this is also set during wartime, with Alleyn doing extremely secret, counter espionage work in the country. It is never really explained why he should be called to do war work so far from home, but still, this is an interesting mix of crime and spy story.

Unusually, the crime in this novel – the murder of Flossie Rubrick – took place in 1942, while Alleyn does not visit her
Died in the Wool (1945) by Ngaio Marsh finds Inspector Alleyn still in New Zealand hunting spies in World War II. Alleyn had already been hard at work in the counter-espionage business in Marsh's previous novel, Colour Scheme. This time he's asked to investigate the death of a member of New Zealand's Parliament--Florence "Flossie" Rubrick. The Rubricks own a large country property which includes sheep herds and wool processing quarters. She had gone missing one evening after announcing she was h ...more
Craig Sisterson
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Died in the Wool is one of four Alleyn tales Marsh set in her native New Zealand, and is made even more interesting as it was actually published during the Second World War, and incorporates aspects, issues, and perspectives on the war climate into the murder mystery plotline. Being written before Marsh would have even known when or how the war would end, some of the settings and characterisations can give insights into New Zealand at that time that no recently written historical novel, no matte ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely not my favorite - published in 1945, my paperback -2013 Felony & Mayhem
New Zealand is the site of all the action, a very well known lady shows up dead rolled up in wool at her sheep farm even though she'd had a house full of guests who were helping her look for a diamond clip along the paths surrounding the estate. Alleyn is called in to thoroughly investigate how this came about and who was responsible as he is UK's man on the scene in New Zealand on the watch for spies. It is wa
Another solid Marsh mystery. I was able to guess the killer towards the end, but there were plenty of suspects to choose from. She also offered up a unique landscape that is was part English countryside, part new Zealand wilderness. My previous experience with GA mysteries had solely been from the Christie canon, so it has been refreshing to get another perspective and writing style. Many times a bit outlandish and over the top, but almost always fun.
Susan in NC
I do like Inspector Alleyn, and enjoyed the descriptions of the vast landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island in this mystery thriller set in 1942.

Alleyn is far from his usual supporting cast in NZ during WWII, sussing out espionage after the body of a female MP is found in the middle of a bale of wool. Alleyn visits the sheep station where the murder occurred to try and solve the case, but also learn if secret weapons research being carried out there is being leaked to the enemy.

I’ve not read t
Richard Thomas
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unusual setting.

The action takes place in New Zealand in the war so a classic murder story is set away from a British location with the addition of espionage to add to the interest . The author writes well as she should about her home country and draws the characters interestingly and differently from what might be expected in a classic murder mystery. It’s thoroughly enjoyable with plenty of twists and turns so the murderer only becomes guessable towards the end.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
One and a half stars for this unfortunately talky-talky wartime mystery. Excellent basic idea--rich grazier's wife vanishes, only to turn up weeks later well past her use-by date--but the book was done to death under an avalanche of words, words, words. Any action is crammed unceremoniously into the last quarter of the book.

We start with Alleyn being sent up to the holding as a member of some unnamed wartime special branch, supposedly too hush-hush to even mention but it just reinforces the weak
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I find I really like the New Zealand ones in this series. This one is also set in NZ, during WWII.

Alleyn's essentially counter-intelligence, investigating a potential information leak (and associated murder) on a New Zealand sheep farm.

I like the reduced cast of characters. I like the setting. And it struck me in this one that I definitely have a better sense of Alleyn as a character now. One could argue that 13 books in is too late - I don't disagree. I will only say that it probably happened a
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn, in New Zealand during World War II to track down spies, both from outside and from within, travels to the countryside where ranchers keep sheep to investigate a year-old murder and potential espionage in Ngaio Marsh's Died in the Wool. Flossy Rubrick, a member of the New Zealand Parliament, disappeared a year earlier, only to be found rolled up in a bale of hay five weeks later. So the four people who live at her and her late husband Arthur's home in Mo ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, mysteries
While I liked the New Zealand setting, this entry in the Inspector Alleyn series was not one of Marsh's better efforts.
John Frankham
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
Not one of my favourite Inspector Alleyn whodunnits. A nice New Zealand high country setting, and an inventive murder, but Alleyn, arriving long after the event, and concerned with war-time treason as well as murder, has to recover past events by a round-table recounting of the past by the inhabitants of the farm estate. Rather static. No Troy, no Inspector Fox.

GR blurb:

One summer evening in 1942, Flossie Rubrick, goes to her husband's wool shed to rehearse a patriotic speech - and disappears. T
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
First half almost unbearably talky. Second half picked up. Like the previous installment set in New Zealand, interesting for the setting, but I miss London and Inspector Fox as much as Alleyn does. May the war be over soon and Alleyn back to his usual haunts.
Victoria Miller
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Has the most insidious manner of hiding the body of any mystery I've ever read.
Rebekah Giese Witherspoon
A few chapters in, I'm abandoning this one. What a disappointment. Ngaio Marsh is widely considered to be among the top four Golden Age mystery writers (along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Margery Allingham), so I was really looking forward to sampling her work. But Ngaio Marsh doesn't "play fair" with her mystery readers, at least not in this novel. While each of the characters is right in the middle of telling the story of the day in question, the author suddenly switches from dial ...more
Louise Culmer
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the most interesting INspector Alleyn story I have read so far. Set on a sheep station in New Zealand in WW2, it concerns the murder of the sheep station owner's wife. A very strong minded, ambitious MP, she is found dead inside a bale of wool. inspector Alleyn, who happens to be in New Zealand doing espionage work, comes to stay on the sheep station and unraveling the mystery. there are some interesting characters and some lovely descriptions of the New Zealand scenery. however, it was ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm pretty sure this is my first Roderick Alleyn, so perhaps not the right place to start! but, it actually functions just fine as a standalone, since it seems like the characters I would otherwise be expected to be familiar with are not present in this mystery (aside from Alleyn), which is set in New Zealand. it's fascinating that this was written during the war, with Marsh not knowing how it would all end. the way the victim's body was hidden seemed exceptionally gruesome for some reason.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Like "Colour Scheme," this book is set in wartime New Zealand, and while I give it the same rating as its immediate Marsh predecessor, this seems a better book. The story takes place on an isolated South Island sheep station, apparently near Canterbury (though the book never makes the location clear). It's the third of four Alleyn mysteries set in New Zealand (though "Surfeit of Lampreys" is also partially set there), with the last one not coming until 1980.

It's just a good story. Marsh has by n
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1940s, detective, audio
Serial fiction written during The War is often more interesting as social document than as fiction. This episode of Marsh's series has a few things going for it, though. It's always kind of fun when she gets to actually bring her show to New Zealand, and the intense remoteness of the sheep-station setting helps her keep tight control over a short list of suspects. Plus, this is a novel with a very lively corpse -- she's dead for the bulk of the book, but the late departed is a real larger-than-l ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one takes place in New Zealand during WWII. Alleyn is there on a case of espionage, so when one of the members of the Rubrick 'family' asks for help, he is sent. Florence has disappeared, but her body shows up eventually packed into a bale of wool from Mount Moon, the Rubrick sheep farm. Alleyn meets Fabian Losse, who has a war injury that makes him subject to blackouts. He is working on a top secret invention with the help of Douglas Grace, an engineer, and details of the invention have le ...more
Jemima Ravenclaw
Loved it. This was my first ever Ngaio Marsh, read as part of the Ngaio Marsh challenge January choice for 2019 for Reading the Detectives Group. I feel excited to enjoy an author as freshly and as much as I did when I read ‘Death on the Nile’ by Agatha Christie at age 13.

The style of this book is very different and I had an audio edition which while being narrated beautifully by James Saxon, I struggled with the time gaps in several places at the beginning of the novel and had to rewind to wor
Jj Li
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Ngaio Marsh is always hard to pin down for me. She has flashes of brilliance, but most of her books are a bit plodding. Died in the Wool was one of those books that plod, not unpleasantly, towards an interesting end, with flashes of brilliance. Kind of like a cross country roadtrip - if you're the kind of person who takes more interest in the stop than the endless stretches of road, you won't like it. Died in wool is one of those books where half the book is interviews, and the other half is act ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
#13 in the suave and debonair, Scotland Yard Superintendent Roderick Alleyn mystery series. Alleyn is detached, sophisticated and expensively educated.

WWII New Zealand where Allyen is helping the government investigate possible espionage. Summer,1942, Flossie Rubrick disappears. Three weeks later she is found packed inside one of her own bales of wool. A year later, Allyen goes to the remote sheep ranch to investigate the murder and possible case of espionage regarding two men working on a top-
I don't think the last two books have been up to the standard of those preceding them. This was another set in New Zealand, but we didn't even get much of the surrounding area apart from the fact that the setting was pretty remote. Alleyn was again under the guise of someone looking for spies as opposed to a detective, although his purpose throughout the book was to find a murderer as much as someone passing information to the enemy. This first half of the book was telling us what a family thou ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Now this one is more like it! It features Mr. Alleyn from the beginning. It's still set in NZ and features both a murder and his war work of dealing with the Nazis, and seems most appropriate to read during our current political climate. The people are well drawn and complex, and the murderer hard to figure out. There's a good bit of psychology in it, and it is well thought out.

The hardest thing about listening to this one is that it features someone with a head wound, and I'm home listening to
S Dizzy
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this Inspector Alleyn story, even sans his usual crew. He was not in his usual police role since he was tasked with ferreting out a 'spanner in the works' in the guise of a war enemy/traitor giving away secrets to the Nazis. However, in the process, he solved a 15 month old muder. It was a riveting tale, complete with additional insight into Alleyn's character. And he really likes his wife, which appealed to me.
So much better than the prior in the series. Alleyn is still in New Zealand and this time investigates an unsolved murder on a sheep ranch. Excellent setting, pleasant family, and an interesting plot. The characters' different opinions of the murdered woman were presented reasonably naturally and I felt I knew her, and her deceased husband, quite well. A satisfying read.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The writing is so delightfully witty that I think I missed a good portion of it by listening to the audiobook. The book, strangely, is 90% dialogue, like a play, which makes it a bit slow at times (no action, only re-telling) but the characters are great and the British cleverness is on point. Would read another in the series, but not listen.
Repeat listen. A good kiwi based mystery. I really like the love, liking, and, respect Roderick has for his wife Troy. I think the way Ngaio Marsh ends the story lets the rest of the book down, not sure how else she could have done it though without adding a few more chapters to the end. Extra: some 'grandpa' generation cursing, emotional adultery.
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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)