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Died in the Wool (Roderick Alleyn #13)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,600 Ratings  ·  103 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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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
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
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.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: detective, audio, 1940s
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
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.
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
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ngaio-marsh
3.5 stars. Liked the NZ setting, and as usual appreciate Marsh's writing, but found the mystery a bit more predictable than usual.
Evelyn Harvill
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Inspector Alleyn mystery!
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.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a summer evening in 1942 in New Zealand a formidable woman MP Florence (Flossie) Rubrick walks through the grounds of her home on a famous sheep farm, to the wool shed to practise her forthcoming speech. No one sees her again. Three weeks later she turns up at a wool auction, gruesomely packed tightly into a bale of wool.
A year later, Flossie’s husband’s nephew Fabian Losse asks Roderick Alleyn - who is in New Zealand to undertake investigations for the government – to look again at the case.
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
Sarah Webber
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This one was excellent and the perfect distraction for my fever bound brain. Hopefully Troy will be back for the next book.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Ngaio Marsh is an author I first heard about in P.D. James's book Talking About Detective Fiction...and it's taken me this long to get over Talking About Detective Fiction (seriously...if you haven't read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, don't even go there). But I never forgot the name, nor the title Died in the Wool, which, as you might expect, is a murder mystery set on a sheep station in New Zealand. After so much Lord Peter Wimsey, the fact is that I found this book a little humorless. Granted, ...more
Madhulika Liddle
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Early 1942. South Island, New Zealand. A wool buyer smells a rat—or is it? When a stinking bale of wool is opened up, it reveals a horrible secret: stuffed inside it is the body of Florence ‘Flossie’ Rubrick, go-getting sheep-owner, MP, lady of the manor (Mount Moon, near the Moon River), and benefactor of so many…

… but Roderick Alleyn, sent from England to investigate the case (since it may be connected to possible espionage) finds that Flossie’s generosity may not have been utterly unadulterat
Maria Thermann
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A classic whodunit set in 1942, Ngaio Marsh's novel is set in New Zealand on a remote farmstead on a plateau of outstanding natural beauty. As a special investigator dealing with counter-espionage in WWII, Inspector Alleyn is called in more than a year after the murder of 47-year-old Flossie Rubrick has been committed. As a rich, formidable woman and female MP, Flossie wielded quite a lot of power over her household, farm and constituency. Plenty of people held a grudge and had motive to do her ...more
World War II rages on, and Inspector Alleyn continues as the Special Branch’s eyes and ears in New Zealand. While his primary brief is spy-catching, he’s also happy to help with old-fashioned policing. Flossie Rubrick, an influential Member of Parliament and the wife of a sheep farmer, is murdered. Had she made political enemies? Had a mysterious legacy prompted her death? Or could the shadowy world of international espionage have intruded on this quiet farm?

I listened to this as an audiobook in
Simon Mcleish
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in July 1998.

A second wartime Alleyn mystery set in New Zealand (following on from Colour Scheme). The idea that Alleyn was in New Zealand as a counter-intelligence officer rather than a homicide department police officer means that some reason needs to be given for him to investigate a murder. In this case, the security implication is a possible link with an engineering design project under way at a remote sheep-station.

Florence Rubrick was an MP and the wif
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Died in the Wool was written and is set during WWII. Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn is still far from home, in New Zealand, as he was in Colour Scheme, doing work connected to the War. In Colour Scheme, he was working undercover to find spies; in this book, he is acting as a sort of consulting detective, but the murder he’s looking into may also be related to espionage. Florence “Flossie” Rubrick, an energetic, pushy, often infuriating Member of Parliament, is the victim, which we know from ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this first many years ago. Maybe fifty? Yikes. I remembered how the body was discovered, in a bale of wool. I remembered that Roderick Alleyn was the Scotland Yard detective who went to New Zealand to investigate. The rest I did not remember. Only that I liked it, as I tend to like all Marsh's mysteries.

Alleyn is called in somewhat unofficially by the owner of property where a woman was killed. The local police force had worked on the case a year ago and had not been able to solve it. Aft
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marsh fans, perhaps Marsh newbies, spinners
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Julia
If you're an enthusiast of the fibre arts, particularly spinning, and also enjoy mysteries, this book is a good way to combine the two interests. Set in New Zealand during the Second World War, the plot is a "cold case" of sorts, or at best lukewarm. New Zealand MP Florence "Flossie" Rubrick, whose husband owns a wool operation called Mount Moon, goes into the wool shed to practise a speech, and is never seen alive again. She is found three weeks later at an auction, packed inside a bale of Moun ...more
Carol Evans
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audio-book
It’s reminiscent of an English country manor mystery, although it takes place on a sheep farm. Florence Rubrick, a member of parliament and the owner of the sheep farm is found murdered after missing for three weeks, encased in a bale of her own wool. Roderick Alleyn, Marsh’s series detective, is called in by a family member to investigate after the local police have gotten nowhere in over a year. Apparently Roderick is a distant relation to the dead woman. Also, he is doing War duty in England ...more
Kiera Healy
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this one, which was a pleasant deviation from the increasingly standard formula of Marsh's novels. Typically, there is a lengthy build-up, a murder at the halfway point, and the dramatic appearance of Alleyn in the final act. Here, though, we are dealing with murder in retrospect: Alleyn is there from the start, piecing together the mystery by interviewing all the inhabitants of the dead woman's sheep station (as I believe our Antipodean friends call them).

It's a nice change, and the dev
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-books-read
I've never read any Ngaio Marsh before although I remember my mom reading this author. I found this through an on-line book group on Ravelry and decided to give her books a try.

It's just after World War II, and New Zealand woman, Florence Rubrick has been brutally murdered and her body hidden in a wool bale. Inspector Allyn has been sent out from England to help solve this cold case as there is a suspicion that her death is part of an on-going espionage investigation. I found this novel to be s
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A great improvement on her previous book (Colour Scheme). Marsh was still constrained by the reality of writing a murder mystery in the middle of a war and her need (perhaps thrust upon her by her publishers) to make Alleyn appear in the book. The logic of the book collapses under any serious scrutiny. SPOILER -- as Alleyn's explanation at the end of the book makes clear there were only two people who were ever, serious likely candidates as spies, the authorities knew that, the "secret" at risk ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marsh does another classic whodunit with a small family group, many motives, & much opportunity, this time in wartime New Zealand. Somewhat annoying Member of Parliament Florence Rubrick is found after being missing for three weeks - found pressed into a bale of wool produced by her sheep station. Motives abound, with family members & ranch employees alike who had good reason to dislike her, but the impetus to solve it really comes months after the fact: was the death tied to hints of es ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. It doesn't matter how many clues the author leaves, I always fail to spot the motive and murderer. With her eye for detail, she effortlessly allows the reader to enter into the world of the 1930s. Inspector Alleyn is an attractive character and as the books progress, it is very enjoyable to find out more about his background, family and wife. I'm steadily reading my way through all in the series and I'm not looking forward to the moment when I have finished them. They are interes ...more
Mar 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 1985
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is not one of the best of the series. It starts out well, with a missing woman's body found in a bale of wool. Alleyn goes to the scene, and then... Everyone talks. They take turns talking. And talk some more. I can see how this book would be fun to write - Marsh is clearly enjoying showing her victim from different perspectives using the witnesses own words. But I found the first half dull to read. I kept hoping they'd stop talking and do something exciting - like take a walk or something. ...more
Nancy Butts
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Book 13, and the last one set fully in New Zealand. It is famous because of the gruesome way the murderer disposed of the body: by compressing into a bale of wool. Although I love the South Island scenery, this is not my favorite Marsh novel, mainly because so much of it is exposition in long chapters of flashback from various suspects. Marsh was trying something different here. Usually she lets readers get to know the victim for several chapters before she bumps him or her off. This time, the v ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: british-mystery
I didn't care at all for her last book, so I was definitely pleased to see that her plot was a bit better in this one. Yes, it's another spy novel, and the spy angle is definitely overplayed. But the mystery was interesting and the spy angle didn't detract too much from it. And in this installment, Alleyn goes back to normal, or as normal as he can get considering he is away from home, tracking down spies, and trying to solve an 18 month old murder without his trusted sidekick. I'm just hoping t ...more
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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
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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)

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