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Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn #32)
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Ngaio Marsh Buddy Reads > Light Thickens - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10238 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 feel free to post spoilers in this thread.

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2133 comments This book really was not one to remember for me. I think most people will know the story of Macbeth, but this plodded through it for the first half to describe the the rehearsals for a production of the play. There were not that many characters, so it was easy to identify them, some of which we had met in an earlier book. As for plot it was easy to see what was going to happen and who was the murderer, and Marsh's way to disguise it was very weak. I really wish she hadn't bothered with this one

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9199 comments Mod
Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one much, Jill - I liked it but do agree there was far too much detail about the rehearsals!

I also agree it was easy to see how the murder would happen, but I thought Marsh enjoyed herself making readers think it would happen on the first night when Alleyn was watching - but then that performance all goes off fine and we are left waiting!

Tracey | 254 comments After all those rehearsals I was desperate for the murder to happen on the opening night. The murderer was easy to spot, with such a focus on the fight scenes.

I enjoyed the sections of Peregrine at home and the children. Thinking back to the previous book set at the Dolphin I would have liked some more Jeremy Jones.

I've really enjoyed reading all these books in order. Will be interesting to see how the Stella Duffy book compares. I've also got a book of short stories to enjoy (Death on air).

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9199 comments Mod
Ooh yes, I'd have liked to see more Jeremy Jones too.

message 6: by Sandy (last edited Aug 18, 2020 03:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 2895 comments Mod
I've finished but need to review the ending to see if I missed a motive. I listened, with an print book handy, and got wrapped up in the theatrical voices. It was an excellent book for audio with all those male actors, plus a few women and children to demonstrate the performer's range.

If Troy ever made an appearance I missed it. She didn't even go to the performances.

Victoria | 30 comments Sandy wrote: "I've finished but need to review the ending to see if I missed a motive..."

As far as I could tell, it wasn't much of a motive. Seemed to be that the murderer was tipped over from being a little dotty to being insane by all the tricks played earlier and because the victim was a bit rude and arrogant towards him. It seemed like Marsh cared more about discussing how to stage Macbeth than the actual murder part of it.

Sandy | 2895 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Sandy wrote: "I've finished but need to review the ending to see if I missed a motive..."

As far as I could tell, it wasn't much of a motive. Seemed to be that the murderer was tipped over from be..."

Thanks, I didn't miss a big reveal. I picked up on the dotty bit but he was a character I liked (though it may have been the voice).

Diane Lending (dianefromvirginia) | 22 comments I just heard an interview on the wonderful Shedunnit podcast where a New Zealander said that Ngaio Marsh was known as an wonderful Shakespearean director. I think Marsh was describing how she would direct MacBeth. And I agree that it sounds chilling. Not her best mystery but fascinating from the theater perspective.

(And if you haven't listened to Shedunnit, I strongly recommend it. It's a podcast primarily about women writers of the Golden Age. Well researched and told.)

message 10: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 806 comments I have to express doubts about Marsh as a Shakespearean scholar, after she made a plot point about a speech from Henry V (in Colour Scheme) and confused the speech before Harfleur (Once more unto the breach ...) with the speech before Agincourt. "He heard Mr Gaunt shout a sentence which he rendered as "Once more into the blasted breeches, pals". Unmistakeably the opening line of the Agincourt speech ..." Unmistakeably not the opening line of the Agincourt speech, which begins;
"If we are mark'd to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour."

I would have had to let Smith go, on that evidence.

message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9199 comments Mod
Thank you Diane, I will listen to the Shedunnit interview.

There's a nice page here about Marsh as a Shakespearean director:


Some of the photos didn't show for me but you can see them if you click on the links, including one of a young Marsh as Hamlet:

I wonder if this means she actually played Hamlet, or just dressed up as the character for the photo? It would be great to know more about her productions - I may listen to the lecture mentioned in the article.

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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9199 comments Mod
Rosina, I hadn't spotted the wrong reference in Colour Scheme - an easy slip to make mixing up the two famous speeches, but I'm slightly surprised it has never been corrected by publishers since.

Tara  | 822 comments I also thought the crime would happen on opening night, so it was a bit of a surprise if it occurred later, albeit with a very obvious method. I can't imagine that you would be able to have real, sharp weapons used in a production--even extensively trained people can make mistakes, particularly if you are tired or get distracted.
I wonder how they would have been able to cover up the fact that the main actor in the play was beheaded by a cast member? I suppose they would only have been able to get away with that before the trial. Still, you couldn't imagine that going 24 hours without leaking in today's world. I'm not sure if it would have helped or hurt the theater though.

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