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Death at the Bar (Roderick Alleyn, #9)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Death at the Bar

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Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Published in 1940, this is the ninth Roderick Alleyn novel, and our September challenge title.

A classic Ngaio Marsh novel in which a game of darts in an English pub has gruesome consequences.

At the Plume of Feathers in south Devon one midsummer evening, eight people are gathered together in the tap-room. They are in the habit of playing darts, but on this occasion an experiment takes the place of the usual game – a fatal experiment which calls for investigation.

A distinguished painter, a celebrated actor, a woman graduate, a plump lady from County Clare, and a Devonshire farmer all play their parts in the unravelling of the problem…

Please do not post spoilers in this thread.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I'm only just starting this one, in an old paperback with tiny print - must say that Marsh has yet again come up with a great setting, the pub with a darts game. She and Christie share a talent for thinking of great starting-points for their mysteries!


Jan C (woeisme) | 1439 comments This is one of the few I remember reading back in the '80s. It was probably just the title that grabbed me.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Yes, a good idea to go on holiday, after being in the same place a year ago, as well. All those unresolved relationships and no need for the men to meet all the characters for the first time.


message 5: by Judy (last edited Sep 01, 2018 11:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I really like the lists of characters at the start of Marsh's books, too - very useful to flip back to! It helps that I'm reading on paper for these.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I'm wondering if Ngaio Marsh had read any Thomas Hardy recently when writing this one? The way Abel talks, saying, "My sonnies," "souls" etc is very like Hardy's villagers - not sure how typical this is of West Country dialect at this period, but I thought she might be remembering Hardy.

Also, so far (10 chapters in), Decima seems a bit like a cross between Grace in The Woodlanders and Eustacia in The Return of the Native!


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
I think the set up is excellent with the minor crash, then meeting at the bar, the hint of the two knowing each other and tension over the dart challenge.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I agree, Sandy, and that first meeting with the crash is quite cinematic - I will be interested to see how they did it in the TV version.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I've now finished this book, and enjoyed it overall, though I could have done with a bit less of Abel's West-Country burr! There were one or two plot twists which puzzled me, but I'll say more about that in the spoiler thread later.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I listened to the Audio version, Judy, so I think the spoken accents were better than the written versions of such speech! I certainly find written 'accents' quite annoying sometimes.


Tara  | 831 comments This was a good mystery, and although I was stumped on the culprit, all of the clues were there for the reader to puzzle out. Personally I wanted more Troy (I know some in this group would disagree). I think the relationship between Alleyn and Fox has really grown into a wonderful thing (and I like Alleyn best in his "mother hen" moments). Really looking forward to the next book.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
I am pleased, to be honest, that Troy doesn't infiltrate every novel, as Harriet seems too. Not that I dislike either, but a straight mystery, without love interest, is preferable, in my humble opinion. Life would have been much easier had Harriet, in particular, just made her mind up a little more swiftly!


Tara  | 831 comments Susan wrote: "I am pleased, to be honest, that Troy doesn't infiltrate every novel, as Harriet seems too. Not that I dislike either, but a straight mystery, without love interest, is preferable, in my humble opi..."

I think since most of the detective fiction I have read previously has main characters who are habitually single (Holmes, Poirot, Miss Marple, Brother Cadfael), a bit of normalcy and affection is something that is enjoyable (especially as a counterpoint to darkness and death). I haven't read the Wimsey books, but I would agree with you Susan that if it interferes with the storyline, it detracts rather than adds at that point.


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Well, some people really do like Harriet, and I do too, but the playing hard to get scenario lasted way too long! Although the final yes was very sweet in the end...


Tara  | 831 comments Susan wrote: "Well, some people really do like Harriet, and I do too, but the playing hard to get scenario lasted way too long! Although the final yes was very sweet in the end..."

Luckily it only took about 2 books for Troy to come around, so that wasn't too long :)


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Yes, Troy was far more decisive! Hurrah for her and thank goodness for the reader ;)


message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Well, some people really do like Harriet, and I do too, but the playing hard to get scenario lasted way too long! Although the final yes was very sweet in the end..."

I didn't think it lasted too long - I love all the Peter-Harriet books and wouldn't be without any of them!


Susan | 10510 comments Mod
Ah well... We must agree to differ. I liked Harriet too, but wished they'd got on with it!


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I've just watched the TV episode based on Death on the Bar - very well done, I think, with beautiful Cornish scenery - directed by Michael Winterbottom just before he moved into films, and with a great cast, including David Calder and Alex Jennings. There are one or two things which I don't think were in the book, but I enjoyed it a lot anyway.


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