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Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Vintage Murder - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Our May challenge book is: Vintage Murder (1937)

This fifth book in the series sees Alleyn in New Zealand, along with a touring theatre company. He is meant to be on holiday, but finds himself a witness to murder.

Feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Tracey | 254 comments I really liked the setting of this book, and the insight into life in NZ. Although Bathgate didn't appear, we did have Susan Max popping up. I didn't realise from the previous books that Alleyn was such a renowned dectective and author of a dectective book - maybe I'd missed that?

I wasn't as keen on the actual method of murder, I found it all a bit too ridiculous to have this giant bottle champange flying through the sky.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I liked the beginning of this, but I felt it just got bogged down. The questioning of all the suspects went on all night - and it felt like it to me. There was a lot I liked, but, ultimately I found it a bit of a slog.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I enjoyed it a lot but I do agree there was rather a lot of questioning of suspects.

Tracey, I also hadn't realised that Alleyn was a famous detective from the previous books - perhaps he had only recently published his book?!

As well as bringing back the character of Susan Max, this book kept mentioning the identity of the killer in Enter a Murderer, which could be a problem for anybody reading out of order!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Never read a series out of order - that is a warning to the unwary :)


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments I'm afraid I had forgotten who Susan Max was even though it wasn't that long ago we all read it!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Me too, Jill, until it was pointed out in the book - she wasn't that memorable for me.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Same here re Susan Max!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Just started this and am finding Carolyn so irritating and OTT-actressy that my fingers are crossed she gets murdered!


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments I've just started on a re-read (last read probably decades ago!) and find the 'the tall man' conceit a bit tiresome for the whole of the first chapter. It would have been different if we'd been in the point of view of one of the characters who didn't know who the tall man was, but mostly it's Alleyn's pov, and he should think of himself as
Alleyn, not as the tall man.

I agree with Clodia though - Carolyn is sooooo affected that it makes my teeth ache.


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Well, is that the most bonkers method of murder, ever?!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I didn't much care for Carolyn either. And yes, a really bonkers method of murder :)


Pamela (bibliohound) | 394 comments I quite liked Carolyn but I agree she was a little over the top at first. Valerie was the one who irritated me most.


message 14: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments Yes it was Valerie who I was losing patience with.


message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I rather liked Carolyn, although constantly referring to her "Alfiie-Pooh" does get a bit much! Agreed about the bonkers murder method - Marsh clearly had a great talent for thinking of surprising and dramatic murders.


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Yes, I thought that sliding down the bannisters in his underpants was lunatic in a previous book, but this one is even kookier - and what a waste of champagne!

I confess I'm getting bored of all the interviews as nothing seems to be moving forward. And most of the male characters don't seem to have any er, characters to distinguish them from each other.

Still, Alleyn seems a bit more suave than in some of the earlier books.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Both Marsh and Sayers seem to choose quite outlandish methods of killing their victims, don't they? Murder Must Advertise seemed to involve odd things involving bannisters, as did the first Marsh. Not sure it adds much to the book, but perhaps, at the time, it was popular to have unusual murders.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Yes, and I suppose these outlandish methods also avoided any danger of any murderous readers copying the method!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments I slightly wish Miss Marple would arrive and cut through all the artificiality with her down-to-earth common sense! Even Poirot, who loves a bit of drama himself, would surely comment on the psychology of the murderer given his chosen method.

Still, I'm quite enjoying this as a switch-off before-bed read.


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
RC, I am warming to Alleyn as a detective now, so I'm not missing Miss Marple any more.

Also, just a reminder that this is the spoiler thread, so I'm getting a bit nervous in case any posts here spoil it for you - though it sounds as if you may have nearly finished anyway?


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Thanks, Judy - I'm not that engaged with the murder mystery, tbh, so am not too worried about spoilers. I'm more concerned about me giving spoilers if I post on the other thread!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments People are right, Carolyn does dial down her actor-persona - but what about that odd scene where Alleyn takes her on a picnic in order to question her? Do we just accept that he's susceptible to female beauty?


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Just as the acolytes in Death in Ecstasy reminded me of Round the Horne's Julian and Sandy, I find that Carolyn and Hambledon bring back memories of Dame Celia Molestrangler, and ageing juvenile Binkie Huckaback. And their portrayal of Charles and Fiona.

I know ....


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "People are right, Carolyn does dial down her actor-persona - but what about that odd scene where Alleyn takes her on a picnic in order to question her? Do we just accept that he's susceptible to fe..."

Good question! I think yes, he is susceptible to female beauty, but perhaps it also gives a suggestion that he is feeling lonely and ready to fall in love, ahead of the introduction of a romance for him in a future book...

His reaction here is different from in Enter a Murderer where he actually takes a woman in his arms - here he manages to hide his feelings effectively. But it's still rather odd that he takes her on a picnic in the first place!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments I like that explanation, Judy!

The other thing that's bothering me at the moment is what kind of dress is Carolyn wearing if she can hide the tiki in her bodice? I just can't visualise a little statue slipping invisibly into a dress top and that jarred me out of the story.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I agree, RC. What kind of dress was she wearing, that you could hide a statuette in it?!


message 27: by Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (last edited May 08, 2018 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I believe a Tiki is small and flat - sort of pendant sized.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hei-tiki


message 28: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I agree too - but I vaguely think I've come across jewellery etc being concealed "in the bosom" in older books, so presumably it is to do with the way undergarments used to be designed!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Ah, a pendant makes more sense - thanks Hilary. Décolletage is, I believe the nicest word, for that secret hiding place :)


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) Susan wrote: "Ah, a pendant makes more sense - thanks Hilary. Décolletage is, I believe the nicest word, for that secret hiding place :)"

It is isn't it :D

Oh and that wiki page I put up - the final paragraph talks about Vintage Murder and Ngaio Marsh!


Roman Clodia | 902 comments Hilary S wrote: "I believe a Tiki is small and flat - sort of pendant sized."

Ah ha, that makes sense, thanks. I was imagining a little statue/figurine.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
To be fair, the way Marsh wrote about it, it sounded like a statue. Perhaps she was just so aware of what it was that she didn't think of making it clear enough to the reader?


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
I pictured the tiki as flat so had no problem with Carolyn hiding it in her bodice. That's where my grandmother stored her handkerchief.

I liked Carolyn though I agree she was too theatrical and I tired of her 'Alfie-pooh' affectation very quickly. The epilogue of Hilary's step-child was a nice touch.

Good thing Alleyn will met his romantic interest soon as his relationship with beautiful suspects / witnesses is rather unprofessional. Though he did show more restraint this time and he was on vacation.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments For me the epilogue was the most surprising part of the book (although I didn't guess the murderer till Te Pohika mentioned about the great coats)

I'm still trying to process how I feel about this book. I did like Alleyn better in the book- I usually find him very affected.(I actually liked the way the affection he feels for Fox is depicted in this book). I thought the murder method a bit over elaborate, but I could "buy" Meyer doing that as a theatrical surprise for Carolyn though.

I liked the mention of war service in the Great War. I hope that is one of the passages I bookmarked, as I would like like to enter it as a quotation on GR.

& the mention of how defensive Kiwis get about our country! We are getting better about this though I swear! :D

I'm thinking 4★


Lesley | 384 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "For me the epilogue was the most surprising part of the book (although I didn't guess the murderer till Te Pohika mentioned about the great coats)

I'm still trying to process how I feel about this..."


Pressing the Like button :)


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments Hi Lesley!

Also the New Zealand slang. A lot of it not in common usage now although we still say "I feel crook" when unwell.


Lesley | 384 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "Hi Lesley!

Also the New Zealand slang. A lot of it not in common usage now although we still say "I feel crook" when unwell."


There is progression from good ole slang to hideous grammar trends such as youse - multiple people ; should of - should have, and can apply to could, would ... ; different to - different from ; to name a few. But absolutely the most appalling are the people who have developed cannibalistic tendencies in having their friends for dinner! It is TO dinner people.
Oh, and I almost forgot the latest infuriating trend is the use of the word amount when referring to people, things etc. Amount used for uncountable nouns, mass, volume ; number for countable nouns, people, dogs, cars ...

Soapbox re-shelved and rant over :)


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments I have just finished re-reading Vintage Murder - previous read some decades ago, so details had been forgotten. I can't say I was satisfied with the solution, and think it may be difficult to get a conviction with the sole evidence apparently being Dr Te Pokiha's memory of an overcoat, and Alleyn's trick with the train incident. Presumably he has to stay on to give evidence - so, one assumes do all the actors and stagehands. Oddly, that part isn't mentioned, just the regret that with a Labour Government, a death sentence seems unlikely.

A couple of points did strike me. What with a couple of months travel there and back, and several months spent in the country after the murder (depending on what is meant by 'close of the case', but at least three) Alleyn is having an awfully long holiday. One hopes that there aren't many murders going on in England at the time.

I always pronounced Alleyn as A'Lane, but if it is being spelt Allen on the ship's passenger list and no one notices it might be that I was wrong (and it suggests that the shipping lists were rather less rigorous about checking their passengers' passports than nowadays, where such a spelling error would probably result in being refused boarding ...)

I am not a fan of the recent trend in culinary crime - where there are long descriptions of meals cooked by the Chief of Police, or baked goods produced by the plucky heroine in her little cafe - but I would have loved to know what was in the picnic basket - cold chicken and salads, or cheese and pickle sandwiches? - or what sort of meal they ate at Dr Te Pokiha's house - local delicacies, or roast beef and yorkshire pudding?

(By the way, my copy is a 1961 Fontana paperbook with a very 60s cover, which I can scan, but don't know how to upload - any advice?)


message 39: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Rosina wrote: "I always pronounced Alleyn as A'Lane, but if it is being spelt Allen on the ship's passenger list and no one notices it might be that I was wrong ..."

I always used to pronounce it "A-leen", but am now pretty sure it is pronounced Allen, as with the name of the school which is spelt the same way - I've seen a mention somewhere in a piece by Marsh that it's pronounced like that, and it was also pronounced "Allen" in the TV series.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Rosina, you make a good point about how long Allen is travelling for. There are hints he is another 'gentleman,' policeman, who doesn't really need the money, aren't there? Presumably he can just take months off - travelling was a much more leisurely, and expensive, thing to do back then too.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments Rosina wrote: "I have just finished re-reading Vintage Murder - previous read some decades ago, so details had been forgotten. I can't say I was satisfied with the solution, and think it may be difficult to get a..."

Rosina, I'm a librarian on GR. If you scan your cover and place it in the my photos part of your profile I can take it from there. I will need the page numbers (not counting any advertisements for other books.)


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Thank you. I have done it

https://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/...

The last page of text is (or would be) 254 I did put the edition on the system, but couldn't post the cover.


message 43: by Rosina (last edited May 16, 2018 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments I've also scanned the back cover - mainly because they chose a bottle of 1945 champagne as the illustration ...

https://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/...

and the suggestion that the host/victim was an actor - "played his last dramatic role".


message 44: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Those are fabulous covers, Rosina, I love them. The front cover looks as if they have wandered in from a film noir.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Philip Marlowe and a broad - but she does seem to have room to stow the tiki ... possibly even the Maltese Falcon.


message 46: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Definitely more like Marlowe than Alleyn!


message 47: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited May 16, 2018 02:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments Oh my word I love that cover!

I can't upload the back cover - expressly forbidden. There is a section for extra photos, but not allowed to put them there either. I had a beautiful retro back cover for an old NZ cook book but wasn't allowed to upload it, so I put it in my review.

Could you give me a link to the edition you created Rosina? Will save me hunting for it.

Edit: Never mind found it - will do after I've done some real life stuff


message 48: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited May 16, 2018 03:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments & done. I added a modified description from my edition. :)

Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5) by Ngaio Marsh

Rosina, you can remove it from your photos now.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I love those old covers. That is really eye catching.


Tara  | 831 comments I love that retro cover! I would pick up the book solely from that.

This one started off strong for me, but I gave up any hope of solving it when they started in with who was where in the theater, and dark hallways and tight squeezes near bicycle sheds. I also agree with another poster that the male characters all blended together for me, and I didn't bother to sort out who was who.
For being such a smart and dashing detective, Alleyn's taste in women runs towards the rather obvious sort.
Despite outlandish methods, she did stick to one of the oldest motives there is....


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