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Dead Water (Roderick Alleyn #23)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,009 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Faith healing can be fatal
When intrepid octogenarian Emily Pride inherits an island, and the miraculous properties of its "Pixie Falls" healing spring, she is shocked by all the vulgarity. The admission fee, the Gifte Shoppe, the folksy Festival, the neon sign on the pub, all must go! But local opposition runs high, death threats pile up, and Miss Emily's old friend Super
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 15th 1999 by Minotaur Books (first published 1963)
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Community Reviews

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Susan Siow
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great mystery that kept me guessing.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
good plot but unfortunately not well written
Victoria Mixon
Now, I do love Marsh, and I love her Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn, and I love the tangled webs of her mysteries. But I'm afraid this is not my favorite.

In this one Marsh reveals her fundamental, telling ignorance of human character, with her portraits of both the epileptic boy with warts---since when is epilepsy a developmental disability? I have a cousin with epilepsy who's hot as a firecracker, which she inherited through our mathematical savant grandmother, from a perfectly normal if s
Gillian Kevern
Another enjoyable Ngaio Marsh! All the classic elements of a whodunnit in an interesting setting, complicated by the presence of Detective Inspector Alleyn's French teacher.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really enjoy this book. It fails on so many levels. A very stereotypical cast of characters - sexually frustrated spinsters, the retired army Major, a doctor, a clergyman and assorted poorly educated villagers.The detective is a romantic old-school English gentleman who never really comes to life in this story. Given her interest in the theatre I felt it would have worked better if Dame Marsh had written it as a play. The dialogue is hackneyed and the whole thing feels dated. Not one of ...more
Lisa Dornell
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'm a huge Ngaio Marsh fan and this is one of my favorites, mostly for the character of Miss Emily Pride, former French tutor of Chief Inspector Alleyn and a most formidable woman. When her life is threatened after the citizens of an island she owns object to her shutting down a spring they claim can achieve miracles, Alleyn must act to ensure the safety of his favorite "old girl."

It's a wonderful "cozy" read for a rainy weekend, filled with interesting characters and with a compelling plot with
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great mystery, yet again I failed to spot the murderer, even though the clues were there in the text and I even spotted some of them but somehow I completely failed to make them add up. I love Ngaio Marsh's books, the familiar land marks are always there: a pair of lovers, a charming young girl, an eccentric spinster and of course Alleyn and Fox. Superb!
One v elderly unmarried woman who has reached state of being admirable tough old biddy; one middle-aged psycho spinster. Not bad, otherwise
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Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book revolves around a supposedly magic spring, where a subnormal child, Wally, saw the Green Lady who told him to wash his warty hands in the spring. He does so, and lo and behold the warts fall off that very night. A local woman, Miss Cost, becomes obsessed by the 'magic' spring, and builds up an entire fantasy about it. It brings many visitors to the spring in search of healing, which benefits the residents of the island where it is located. This island is owned by Miss Pride, an old wom ...more
Sergei Ter-Tumasov
Как хорошо, когда получаешь от книги то, чего ожидаешь (без всяких неприятных сюрпризов)! Как хорошо, когда автор не пытается прыгнуть выше своей головы, а делает именно то, что у него хорошо получается. Очень добротный детектив с незамысловатым сюжетом. Но это отнюдь не минус. Потому что запутать сюжет могут многие писатели, а вот красиво его распутать-единицы. Когда читаю Найо Марш, всегда получаю удовольствие от прочитанного и никогда не жалею о потраченном времени. Конечно же, у неё есть про ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful restrained Scottish uncanniness on a remote island, complete with isolating tides, dead water and frightful storms, featuring the inimitable Roderick Alleyn (aren't we all jealous of Troy?) and his charming French friend-cum-tutor, now 83. The pitifulness of the exploitation of a mentally-challenged child who is cured of a bully-inspiring affliction--added to murder most foul and adult love triangles and the first loves of the young--add up to an ugly murder mystery with rainbows as we ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
One dollar very well spent! I haven't been reading too many classic mysteries lately, but when I opened this one and saw it began with a traditional cast of characters, I knew that I would enjoy it. Dead Water has a very interesting setting, a secluded island in the UK where a freshwater spring is develops a reputation for curing illnesses. It's well-realized description of an insular community changed by tourism.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Sorry to say I am on the down side of these mysteries. Already wondering what my next fixation will be.

This one is more Alleyn, less other characters, which I like better than when the book is three-quarters through before he makes his appearance, no matter how engrossing the story or appealing the characters.
Sarah Webber
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This one is particularly good, even though one of the main characters is an autistic boy who is drawn very accurately, especially for the time. It wasn't recognized as autism then. Marsh must have known someone like him.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries-read, 2017
Guessed the murderer, but this doesn't mean much. The plot wasn't very interesting, unlike a few of the characters. Generally Marsh's prose is very good. This time less so.
Faith healing. I found some of the detail disturbing.
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in March 1999.

Another village crime novel by Ngaio Marsh, this one set on a small island connected to the Cornish mainland by a causeway. On the island, there is a spring, and there, a small boy, washing his hands in the water, experienced an immediate healing of the warts that covered his hands. Over the two years following this event, reported in the national press, a steady stream of people has come to the pool, seeking cures for themselves and enriching t
Rog Harrison
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of an omnibus with "Hand in glove" and "Death at the Dolphin". This was originally published in 1964. I think I have read this at least twice before and for some reason a lot of it stuck in my memory. From the outset I knew who was going to do it and why but this did not stop my enjoying reading this again.

This is set in a village, probably on the south coast of Cornwall, with a cast of bizarre characters. The locals are exploiting a spring with alleged healing powers but the
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a bit odd to start a series with #23, but this was the oldest Marsh my rather inadequate local library had on the shelf.

I gather from other readers that this may not be Marsh's best work, but I found it quite good. Sure there are political correctness issues, but that fault is more of Britain than of the author, who was, after all, writing this in 1963. I think a lot of the people and relationships are pretty credible, and found the dialogue zippy and to my Yankee ear, accurate.

I gather Ma
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When local boy Wally Trehern's warts are suddenly cured, he explains that a lady in green appeared to him and told him that the village spring would wash them away. Then the general shop owner claims that her asthma has also been cured by the spring. The sleepy island village is soon a pilgrimage destination for those seeking cures from their ailments and the business owners and little church are making good money for the first time in their lives. But with the death of her sister, ownership of ...more
I thought I had read all of the Ngaio Marsh mysteries but not this one, set on the English south (?) coast. If I had lost a friend (was it just a friend?) through belief in a healing locale I would be more than likely to react as Miss Emily did. Miss Emily Pride, responsible for Roderick ("Rodrique") Alleyn's beautiful French, back when he was planning on going into the diplomatic service, has inherited a piece of land where a boy has been magically healed of terrible warts by a magic spring. Th ...more
Kevin Shoop
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Grade: B-

This book was a relief after reading multiple distressing books. Mystery fans really can't go wrong with Marsh. I happened to guess the solution to this one, but her writing is good enough to enjoy the story, characters, and humor even when the mystery itself is less than mysterious.

A quick side note on ratings: I notice people giving 3-star reviews to books they didn't like. It shouldn't bug me, but it does. Goodreads describes their rating system like this: 2 stars = it was ok; 3 sta
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
This author is compared to Agatha Christie in style. They are very similar in how the mystery is shaped and the clues hidden, in my opinion. If you haven't read a lot of Christie's novels, the solution to this mystery might even surprise you.

Luckily, the characters were enjoyable so I enjoyed reading the book even though I had the murderer correctly chosen within pages of the body showing up. And, of course, it's always fun to figure out the why's and see that you're correct. ;)

I read this book
Nancy Butts
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
#23 in the series, and set on a tidal island in Cornwall where a spring is credited with miraculous cures. I admit, I wanted to throttle the elderly spinster who is the grit in the wheel: the person whose actions spark the homicidal conflict in the tiny resort community of Portcarrow. She is Alleyn’s former French tutor from when he was in the diplomatic corps, and when she inherits the island from her sister, Miss Pride [she is aptly-named], she insists on shutting down the thriving tourist bus ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very hum-drum mystery with a small set of stock characters. After a backward boy's ugly warts are "miraculously" cured by the apparition of a good fairy at a spring on the island where he lives, a number of unscrupulous locals start exploiting the site to attract sick people desperate for an improvement in their condition. When a sensible old lady inherits the island and decides to put an end to the scam, all hell breaks loose. I never could get interested in who killed the batty spinster, and ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Interesting snapshot of an English town, isolated and scratching a living from tourists. For once, Marsh includes a low life family among her suspects, not only the usual peers and middle class couples. But it seems to me Marsh spun this one out a bit too formulaic. It would have benefited from perhaps 50 or more pages to flesh out her characters and added some needed warmth to the villagers' personalities.
Katie Bee
It was okay. Marsh's writing is, as always, pleasant to read. Unfortunately there was again the case that certain dynamics were present that soured the book a bit for me. For example, we get yet another frustrated spinster who "goes wrong" at menopause. And there's a married couple in which both partners cheat but the woman is pilloried and the man largely gets off. Etc.

I did like Lady Emily though.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is one of the first traditional British mysteries I ever read. And I didn't usually read mysteries back then (going back to the mid 70s here) unless you count Trixie Belden. It came in a brown paper sack with a bunch of other books from a jumble sale. I was intrigued by the author's name more than the subject of the book at the time. It quickly became one of my keepers that I read and re-read over the years until the book finally fell apart.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
As soon as I started this I realized I had read it before, when I first encountered Marsh in my early teens. The wart scene at the beginning is quite memorable, and I vaguely recalled most of the characters, especially the autocratic old Miss Pride, Inspector Alleyn's long-ago French instructor. But I didn't remember the details or solution of the mystery, not that there's anything specially thrilling about them.
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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
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)