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Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn #32)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Light Thickens - August 2020

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Susan | 10237 comments Mod
Astonishingly, this is the last Roderick Alleyn novel, published by Ngaio Marsh, in 1982. We will read the continuation of the series by Stella Duffy, Money in the Morgue, but, for readers at the time, this was the last novel and, with 32 volumes in the series, it was very long running indeed - the books being published from 1934 - 1982, over nearly fifty years!

For this last novel, Marsh turns again to her love of the theatre. Peregrine Jay, owner of the Dolphin Theatre, is putting on a magnificent production of Macbeth, the play that, superstition says, always brings bad luck. But one night the claymore swings and the dummy's head is more than real: murder behind the scene. Luckily, Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn is in the audience...

Please do not post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Susan | 10237 comments Mod
Can hardly believe we are on the last Marsh mystery.

I haven't finished this yet, but, so far, finding too much detail about stage directions, to be honest...


message 3: by Lesley (last edited Aug 14, 2020 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lesley | 384 comments Yes, almost as though she sees it as her last chance to exemplify her beloved theatre. Very detailed in theatre process and the curse of "The Play".

Interesting that she's taken us back to the beginning with the setting and Peregrine. Through auditions we get to know the characters, their backgrounds and traits, which was a good way to do it I thought.


Susan | 10237 comments Mod
It is nice to meet old characters, but I am failing to find the magic in the theatre.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9196 comments Mod
I enjoyed this one - loved the theatre atmosphere and it was nice to have a sequel to Death at the Dolphin, with Peregrine returning. One of the better ones out of the later books, I'd say, and nice to go out with a theatrical mystery.

However, I would have to agree there are too many scene-by-scene stage directions for the production of Macbeth, and the book takes a long time to get going, as with many of the Alleyn mysteries.


Susan | 10237 comments Mod
I am now on chapter 7, in my Audible version, and the story is improving. It was the beginning that I found a slog!


Tracey | 254 comments Great to see the fantastically named Peregrine Jay back! On looking back at the series, Death at the dolphin was one of my favourites. Glad to be back in that setting.


Tracey | 254 comments Susan wrote: "I am now on chapter 7, in my Audible version, and the story is improving. It was the beginning that I found a slog!"

I have to agree the start is quite a slog. Am happy to have finally reached the murder.

In one of the discussions on her previous books there was a mention about swearing. I'd not noticed it before, but in this book I really found it jarring. I'm not particularly anti-swearing myself, but the incidences seemed to jump out. Is this Marsh trying (a little too hard) to modernise the speech?


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9196 comments Mod
Yes, I noticed the swearing in this one too - maybe the publisher added it in to modernise the book?!


Sandy | 2895 comments Mod
I've started half through and the murder must be getting close. I agree about too much stage direction.

I wonder if she knew this would be the last book and chose to return to the Dolphin for that reason.


Victoria | 30 comments Sandy wrote: "...
I wonder if she knew this would be the last book and chose to return to the Dolphin for that..."


That would make sense if Death at the Dolphin was the first Alleyn book, but it isn't. I just looked up the list & apparently is #24. To go back to the beginning she would have needed to bring that journalist (Nigel?) back again.

But I really liked Death at the Dolphin so was happy to have Peregrine back again.


message 12: by Sandy (last edited Aug 18, 2020 06:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 2895 comments Mod
Death at the Dolphin seems longer ago than that. It must have been last December's read. Thank you for reminding me of the reporter. I would have liked a short update on his life, but I picture Alleyn outgrowing that friendship. They must have been very young.

I'm glad they got the theatre rebuilt.


Susan | 10237 comments Mod
I also found the, fairly mild, swearing a bit jarring. It has occurred in the last couple of books and I wince when I hear Alleyn cursing, as it is just out of character. He always seems to controlled.


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9196 comments Mod
I would have liked another glimpse of Nigel Bathgate - I'd like to think he and Alleyn are still friends.


Tracey | 254 comments Agreed, it would have been nice to catch up with Nigel and Angela (I think that was his wife's name?)


Victoria | 30 comments Alleyn was the godfather to the journalist’s (Nigel Bathgate) baby, so presumably they remained friends. Maybe Marsh couldn’t think of any more reasonable ways to keep introducing a journalist into murder investigations


message 17: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2133 comments I was pleased Bathgate was dropped, as I didn’t like him and the banter between him and Alleyn, whereas the relationship between Alleyn and Fox was entertaining


Tara  | 822 comments Normally I don't care too much for the theater-themed books, but I really enjoyed this one (perhaps knowing its the last book in the series helped.) The great detail of the process served to show how Jay was able to shape his vision into the play, to get the result he was aiming for. I also thought the boys, particularly Robin and William, were adorable and a nice distraction from the ridiculous actors making nuisances of themselves.
I appreciated that Marsh resisted the urge to tie up loose ends (maybe marrying Ricky off to a nice girl?) as I am sure other authors do. I do hope that Alleyn gets to retire soon, and move off into the countryside where Troy can paint landscapes.


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