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

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Susan | 10521 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 feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments I quite enjoyed this one- the characters were well done, the setting was nice, the mystery I did not guess, and I loved the touches of humour. The better of the two Marshes I read this time.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Initially, I must admit that I thought, 'how is it possible to make a mystery about darts interesting?' I recall time, as a child, watching my dad and brother play and it seemed pretty dull to me!


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Susan wrote: "Initially, I must admit that I thought, 'how is it possible to make a mystery about darts interesting?' I recall time, as a child, watching my dad and brother play and it seemed pretty dull to me!"

Till you get hit and someone pours some poison in there...


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments I was wondering whether the title was meant to have both meanings- bar as in the pub/ and also hinting that a barrister gets killed?


ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments All throughout the story, I had my suspicions about the Honorouable Violet Darragh because it was never explained why she was titled as such. LOL. Of course, I was not expecting THAT ending. It was an enjoyable mystery. Fox is still my favorite character.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
I agree with you about the double meaning, Lady C - I thought it was a clever title.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
I didn't really understand all the ins and outs of the poison in the rathole - was I just being thick? I was useless at science at school.

Marsh definitely bamboozled me with this one and I had no idea who had done it!


ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments Me neither on the rat poison, even when I reread that bit. I think that's where the killer got the poison for the dart and then filled it with water to make it look untouched, I guess?? I am still in the dark. LOL


Sandy | 3010 comments Mod
I read this book too early and, even though I took some notes, it is slipping away, but what I remember about the rat poison is that the real poison was volatile and would readily evaporate. Thus, as the trap was still full, it could not have been all poison. So that is where the murderer got the poison for the iodine bottle and he refilled the trap with water.


ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments Sandy wrote: "...the real poison was volatile and would readily evaporate. Thus, as the trap was still full, it could not have been all poison. So that is where the murderer got the poison for the iodine bottle and he refilled the trap with water. "


Girl! You rock!! Thank you for clarifying that lil nugget! I vaguely thought about the evaporation rate of the poison but lacked the intelligence to fully grasp it. LOL


Sandy | 3010 comments Mod
I humbly shuffle and say "aw shucks, twernt nothin'"


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Judy wrote: "I didn't really understand all the ins and outs of the poison in the rathole - was I just being thick? I was useless at science at school.

Marsh definitely bamboozled me with this one and I had no..."


That part I managed to understand. But I kept thinking Legge was Byronie in disguise and that he hadn't died at all.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
What did we think of Fox's near miss? For all Abel's complaining about gossip hurting his business, that pub did seem a risky place to drink!


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
Thanks from me too, Sandy - I could see there were references to evaporation but I didn't really get it ! Great explanation.


message 16: by ShanDizzy (last edited Sep 04, 2018 11:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "...I kept thinking Legge was Byronie in disguise and that he hadn't died at all."

Ooh! I didn't think of that. That's a good one! Intriguing...

And Susan, I gasped aloud when Fox got knocked out. But with his usual imperturbable cool, Fox handled it like a champ.


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
I didn't think of that about Legge either, but I think it's a great idea.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Judy wrote: "I didn't think of that about Legge either, but I think it's a great idea."

That was the only explanation that occurred to me of why the Hon Violet would help him.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments I liked this one very much. A clever mystery, not too easy to guess the murderer or the way it was done. some good characters, I particularly liked the young policeman who yearned to do something that would impress Alleyn, and succeeded. And the romance was more interesting than in most of the others, less obvious and predictable.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Louise wrote: "I liked this one very much. A clever mystery, not too easy to guess the murderer or the way it was done. some good characters, I particularly liked the young policeman who yearned to do something t..."

Alleyn is often kind to young policemen, isn't he?

I also loved the hotbed of political dissent in such a small village! Would you really require a Left Movement in a small fishing village? It reminds you of how politically engaged people were in the 1930's and how popular both communism and fascism were.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Susan wrote: "It reminds you of how politically engaged people were in the 1930's and how popular both communism and fascism were. ..."

True, I enjoyed reading those aspects too- and my mind kept going back to how 1939 was when this book was published...


Tracey | 254 comments Poor Fox. He certainly had a close call. It was an amusing passage when he sprung back (wearing his bowler hat and offering to drive) forcing Alleyn to tell him off! There was a mention of Fox learning French again, which I don't recall from the last few of books.


Tracey | 254 comments As for the murder, I suspected everyone! My money was on Miss Darragh at the end. Was a clever method for Legge to make him look innocent.


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
I thought the friendship and respect between Alleyn and Fox really came across in this book - also enjoyed the mention of the French, where it's clear Fox is getting on well with it, even if Alleyn can't resist teasing slightly.


Lesley | 384 comments This was a fairly recent re-read for me, so I remembered who the culprit was.

I do think that Marsh has developed a tight friendship between Alleyn and Fox in a very natural, credible way. True 'mates'.


message 26: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments Finished this at last. I didn't have trouble with the accents as others have said but did find the whole book a hard going for some reason. It was quite cleverly done but I found it a bit slow, going over things too much.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
I think the previous two were much better than this. I did enjoy this one, but it was slower and the setting not as exciting.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Susan wrote: "I think the previous two were much better than this. I did enjoy this one, but it was slower and the setting not as exciting."

I haven't read the earlier ones, but I read a later title (Clutch of Constables) this month with another group, and while I loved the setting etc of that one, as a mystery, and for the characters, I found this one much better.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
I am really enjoying Ngaio Marsh and am glad that I finally got around to reading her!


ShanDizzy  (sdizzy) | 152 comments Susan wrote: "I am really enjoying Ngaio Marsh and am glad that I finally got around to reading her!"

Me 2, Susan. I can't stop binge reading the Inspector Alleyn series. Literally finish one and immediately start the next. I started this one yesterday Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Good to hear, S Dizzy. I am looking forward to finishing, Sweet Danger, our latest buddy read, and starting the next Marsh. I much prefer Marsh to Allingham.


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
Funny, Susan, I've just been realising after rereading Sweet Danger that Allingham is still my favourite of them all - I just love her writing style. But I do really like Marsh too.


message 33: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments I have to agree Judy, I prefer Allingham to Marsh, although I do like Marsh a lot.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
It is good to hear that Marsh is popular, as we have decided that, as there are so many books to go, we will carry on with her next year and continue the Marsh challenge in 2019!


message 35: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
Looking forward to reading more Marsh, as the series is really getting into its stride now. Some great books to come in this series.


message 36: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments Great news!


Tara  | 831 comments I also suspected Violet Darragh, and I had totally written off Legge as he was the "obvious" suspect, and therefore, not the real killer. (I believe Marsh did something similar in an earlier book, but I am vague on who and in what book...) I was very anxious for Fox when he feel ill (although I wasn't sure at first if this wasn't another ploy to fool the suspects), and I was much relieved when he recovered. For all of his teasing, you can definitely tell that Alleyn truly cares for Fox, which is rather nice to see. A great mystery all around, and one of my favorites in the series so far.


Susan | 10521 comments Mod
Yes, for one moment, I did wonder whether Fox would survive and got really worried! It is wonderful to read a series all the way through, especially when you don't know what happens to the characters...


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Tara wrote: "I also suspected Violet Darragh, and I had totally written off Legge as he was the "obvious" suspect, and therefore, not the real killer. (I believe Marsh did something similar in an earlier book, ..."

It reminded me very much of an Agatha Christie which did the same thing.


message 40: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9418 comments Mod
This had me fooled too!


Sandy | 3010 comments Mod
I also dismissed Legge as too obvious. Tricky authors!


Tara  | 831 comments Perhaps the line "the lady doth protest too much" should have been a clue here. He got himself quite hysterical about being "persecuted" with routine questions, that really should have been more of a giveaway.


message 43: by Emma (new)

Emma | 63 comments The thing I find about Death At The Bar is that I'm far more interested in the other characters than in the resolution of the mystery! I do wonder how old Norman Cubitt is meant to be, because in my latest round of re-reads I've started noticing how much of an age gap there is in so many of the romantic relationships which start in her novels. I like Norman a lot in this, though, and am not entirely sure that Decima has enough personality (other than good looks) to be an effective foil. Though I do feel for her having to fend off Watchman's attempts at rekindling their earlier relationship, and how difficult that must have been for her.


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