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Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Death in a White Tie - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10510 comments Mod
This is the general discussion thread for our July challenge read, Death in a White Tie, written by Ngaio Marsh and published in 1938.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
One of the things which made this mystery different was that the victim was a nice person. That really made a change, I thought. People liked him, mourned him, cared about him and he was a friend of Alleyn's. Also, he was trying to do something good, rather than being the usual blackmailer or up to no good...


message 3: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 902 comments I liked this the best of the series so far and actually enjoyed the romance element between Alleyn and Troy.

One of the things that Marsh still isn't good on, in my view, is delineating her characters: she tends to introduce them all in one great rush at the start. So different from Christie's neat little pen portraits that 'fix' characters immediately.

That said, I enjoyed the view of high society... even if the solution comes out of nowhere.

Alleyn is quite different by this book from the first one, isn't he?


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments I thought the personal involvement by Alleyn to the victim , brought out another side to Alleyn. He seemed a lot less frivolous and more driven.


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
I agree that this series has improved tremendously since the first book and Alleyn now has excellent cast of supporting characters. I was so hoping the murder victim was going to be someone else even as I feared for his life. I wanted him to be a regular character, used to spy on society.

I'm in the pro-romance camp, but if I were Troy I would also avoid Alleyn. He just drips intensity.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "One of the things that Marsh still isn't good on, in my view, is delineating her characters: she tends to introduce them all in one great rush at the start. So different from Christie's neat little pen portraits that 'fix' characters immediately. ..."

Interesting, RC - must admit I tend to think the opposite. I found the characters individual in this, whereas in Christie (and some earlier Marshes, to be fair) I'm often busy turning back the pages to check who is who!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
I've now finished this and really loved it - I thought the victim in particular was a wonderful character, with his Victorian way of speaking.

I agree with everyone else that the series has improved hugely by this point, and Alleyn has grown and deepened as a character. I enjoyed his relationship with Troy in this, but liked the fact that it is kept in the background rather than dominating the story.

I did not guess the killer - I suspected Miss Harris, although I know it was indicated it was a man. I wondered if she could be in disguise!


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
One of the things that strike me about both the Alleyn/Troy and Wimsey/Harriet relationships, is that they both seemed to fall in love with women they had seen and hardly seemed to know. Alleyn had very little interaction with Troy on the ship and Wimsey first saw Harriet in court! I was pleased that the relationship with Troy did not dominate, but I feel she will become more involved in later books and I definitely prefer my sleuths without too much romance.


message 9: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 902 comments Judy wrote: "whereas in Christie (and some earlier Marshes, to be fair) I'm often busy turning back the pages to check who is who!"

The only Christie where I struggled like this at the start is And Then There Were None - maybe one of the reasons it's amongst my least favourite Christies?

For me, the romance element works to deepen the characterisation of Alleyn, making him far more rounded, so I've enjoyed it.


message 10: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Jul 09, 2018 12:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments Susan wrote: "One of the things which made this mystery different was that the victim was a nice person. That really made a change, I thought. People liked him, mourned him, cared about him and he was a friend o..."

That is true! It gave the book some genuine emotion.

I also liked the Alleyn/Troy romance better & in this book the Alleyn/Fox relationship wasn't patronising or annoyingly twee.

The only negatives for me was I kept getting Carrodos & Halcutt-Watsit muddled & that I guessed the murder too easily.

I look forward to rereading Death at the Dolphin (killer Dolphin) to see if this title replaces it as my favourite Marsh


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Lots of GA novels seem to include young men being led astray too. What did we think of Withers? It was sad that Donald - Bunchy's nephew - slighted him on the stairs during the ball.


message 12: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments Donald came across as being extremely immature. Easily lead and acting as a spoilt child. I really wanted his uncle to hold off on paying his debts for longer to make him realise that he was responsible for his own acts. Maybe the fact that he never got to apologise to his uncle was a bit of a moral lesson thrown in by the author.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Not quite sure why studying medicine outside of London was quite like being exiled to Siberia either, Jill!


message 14: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Jul 09, 2018 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 612 comments Jill wrote: "Donald came across as being extremely immature. Easily lead and acting as a spoilt child. I really wanted his uncle to hold off on paying his debts for longer to make him realise that he was respon..."

Most of my highlighs didn't save but there was one (said by Bridgie?) that Donald was keeping his distance from Bunchy because he wanted to be more independent- screamingly funny!


Tracey | 254 comments My favourite Marsh book so far. Enjoyed the London high society setting, the whole idea of the season seems rather ridiculous and intriguing at the same time. Poor Bunchy, was really quite keen on him as a character till he managed to get himself murdered!

Donald seemed rather easily mislead, Bridget was far more sensible than him. Not sure about the scenes between Troy and Alleyn, felt the visit to his flat seemed a bit stilted to me. I did have half a thought of 'just get on with it' at this point!


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Yes, not keen on the whole Troy/Alleyn thing. I don't dislike Troy, it's just all this mooning around, distracting him from the plot. I like murders with my mysteries, not romance, to be honest.

I did love the setting and am currently reading the next in the series and really enjoying it. So, overall, doing better personally with Alleyn than I am with Campion, who I am still struggling with.


message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
I love a romantic element in mysteries as long as it doesn’t take over - and with Wimsey and Harriet I don’t even mind that! I enjoyed the Alleyn Troy relationship in this for the most part, and his mother trying to play matchmaker.


message 18: by C.M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.M. Rosens | 11 comments This was my first Marsh book - I enjoyed the adaptations and wanted to read the books ever since I watched the series - and as a first entry into the series it worked really well for me. I really appreciate the style of writing and the descriptive prose, the way Marsh sets the scene and the dialogue that gives each character their quirks and depth.

I found the character list useful but kept getting confused by Lucy Lorrimer, Mrs H-H and Evelyn Carradosin the early chapters, until about the middle where I had finally got used to them. The timescale is a bit dizzying too - it was a bit of a shock to get to ch 20 and realise it had only been about 16hrs in real time, which shows how long it’s been since I read Golden Age detective novels.

I really liked Bunchy, and getting to know him over the 7 chapters at the start was a bit heart-breaking because I already knew he was going to die... It didn’t occur to me how unusual it is to have a sympathetic victim, but that may be because I’m used to more contemporary fiction now, and again, I watch things more than I read things at the moment owing to the amount I read for work. But yes - although I think Christie had at least one or two sympathetic victims too, particularly in her Miss Marple series, as well as one or two sympathetic killers!


message 19: by C.M. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.M. Rosens | 11 comments I also really liked Alleyn/Troy, but coming in at this book I felt I wasn’t as rewarded by the outcome as I would have been if I had started from the beginning and had the full slow-burn. Well. Slowish. The detectives of the Golden Age of a Romantic/romantic bent do seem to be intense and brooding in their feelings!!


message 20: by Judy (last edited Jul 17, 2018 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
C. M. wrote: "This was my first Marsh book - I enjoyed the adaptations and wanted to read the books ever since I watched the series - and as a first entry into the series it worked really well for me. I really a..."

Thanks for the great comments, C.M. I'm rereading the series after many years (don't think I ever read them all), and am also watching and enjoying the adaptations, but I still like the books better.

I agree about the timescale for this one being very tight, and also about how it's sad getting to know and like Bunchy with his fate in mind.

On the romance side, Artists in Crime is the book where the couple meet and I thought it was enjoyable, but this one is my favourite in the series so far. I'm sure it must be a great introduction in terms of quality!


Tara  | 831 comments While I do agree that too much romance can distract from an otherwise suspenseful mystery, if the story is particularly dark or depressing, it can bring a bit of light into your reading. Marsh has a light touch in this area, and I do not feel like it overwhelms the story. Also, as much as I grew up loving Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, I just don't know how realistic it is to have virtually no romantic interests at all. If you like the character, you want them to be happy, so I was rooting for Alleyn and Troy to get together.
A lot of slick, oily characters in this one. Was I the only one who was annoyed that Bridget called her mother Donna? It seemed so disrespectful to me. It was also humorous that in one breath Bridget says that Donald resented Bunchy because he wanted to be his own man, and in the next breath is saying how he is taking advice from Withers, who clearly seems to be a bad egg. Perhaps the fact that he was not family was enough for Donald to listen to him.
I think in reality, one of the more obvious suspects, such as Dimitri or Withers, would have been the real killer. But of course in a mystery novel, you know they are most likely just red herrings.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I don't think 'Donna,' was meant to be disrespectful, Tara. I think it was the Latin term, meaning 'mistress,' and so was, if somewhat odd, a term of respect, rather than anything else. I only know that as all my children have, oddly, studied Latin at school - obviously not a dead language just yet :)


message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
I found 'Donna' a bit irritating at first, but then got used to it and felt it was a quirk of Bridget's. Thanks for the derivation, Susan.

This has reminded me that I think in one of the Miss Marple books a younger woman had a similar nickname for her grandmother, but I can't remember what it was! Does anyone remember?


Pamela (bibliohound) | 394 comments Evelyn's husband Paddy called her Donna as a diminutive of Madonna because he thought she looked like Raphael's Madonna di San Sisto. Bridget has carried on the nickname, although Marsh is vague about how she picked it up.


Tara  | 831 comments Yes, I do recall it was a nickname derived from Madonna, but it would seem that calling her Mother (or some form therein) would have been more appropriate. I have just never liked calling your parents by their given names, but perhaps that is a quirk of mine.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Thanks, Pamela, for reminding me of why she used 'Donna.'

I am really getting into this series now, I must admit. I have really liked the last couple of books and am enjoying the next. I might even say that Marsh is nudging into becoming a favourite of mine now.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 394 comments I also enjoyed the last two books, but find Marsh's style more grating now than when I first read her books as a teenager. I have appreciated the role of Fox more this time round, though.


message 28: by Pamela (last edited Jul 18, 2018 11:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 394 comments Donald reminded me a bit of Maurice in Death In Ecstasy - the decent young man who's got himself on the wrong path, but has the love of a good woman to help him get back on track.


message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
I think the series is getting better and better as it goes on, I must agree, Susan.


Tracey | 254 comments Pamela wrote: "Donald reminded me a bit of Maurice in Death In Ecstasy "

Well observed the similarities in character!

Am I the only person who missed Nigel and Angela in this book? I quite like camaraderie between Alleyn and Nigel.


message 31: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
I quite like Nigel too - wondering if we have now seen the last of him, though.


message 32: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments I hope so, as I think Alleyn is a much nicer character without him.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Nigel appears in the next book, although he is not a large part of the story.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9406 comments Mod
Thanks Susan, I will enjoy seeing him again.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Yes, I do like Nigel. He is not more than a peripheral character, but he does turn up and - as usual - takes some notes for Alleyn :) I am listening to this on Audible and the narrator does play him like a 'silly ass' type of character, so obviously shares Jill's opinion of him!


Sandy | 24 comments Just finished this book and I think it is her best so far. The characters seem better developed. I look forward to the next one.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments SO far this is the most enjoyable Ngaio Marsh I have read, and the only one where I didn't find it too easy to guess the murderer.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I think I really started to enjoy Marsh when I got to this novel, Louise. The next one is also really good.


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