Cera's Reviews > A Man Lay Dead

A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
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Sep 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in September, 2011

I really loved this for the same reason a lot of people disliked it -- the character of Roderick Alleyn. By making Alleyn a _Scotland Yard_ detective who also seems to be a gentleman, Marsh creates a tension that surfaces throughout the story; the other characters can't decide whether they like him for his gentlemanly qualities or despise him for his professional ones. This is very different from the private gentleman who choses detection as a hobby, such as Sayer's Wimsey, or Christie's Poirot. As one of the characters says, a man like Alleyn should live "amidst inlaid linoleums, aspidistras, and enlarged photographs of constabulary groups" (211). Instead he displays the education and tastes of a gentleman, as well as the literary background of a reader of detective fiction, and these add both humour and tension to an already well-crafted mystery.

As for the rest, it's a good country house mystery with shallow but interesting characters, and while I agree the method of the murder was a little silly, that didn't ruin anything for me. I was also really pleased with the throwaway bit where Alleyn calls his cousin, who is a female chemist; yes, there *were* female scientists in the 1930s, but how often is this mentioned? Points to Marsh for going against type there.

I will definitely, definitely read more of hers.
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message 1: by Cissa (new)

Cissa I've read most if not all of Marsh's books, and i've really liked them. granted, i read them at least 30 years ago... but I remember them fondly.


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