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Black As He's Painted / Last Ditch / Grave Mistake (The Ngaio Marsh Collection, Book 10) [Paperback]

Ngaio Marsh
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010 The Ngaio Marsh Collection (Book 10)

Commemorating 75 years since the Empress of Crime’s first book, the tenth volume in a set of omnibus editions presenting the complete run of 32 Inspector Alleyn mysteries.

Called in to help with security arrangements for a presidential reception at a London embassy, Chief Superintendent Alleyn ensures the house and grounds are stiff with police. Nevertheless, an assassin strikes, and Alleyn finds no shortage of help, from Special Branch to a tribal court - and a small black cat named Lucy Lockett…

Young Rickie Alleyn has come to the Channel Islands to write, but village life seems tedious - until he finds the stablehand in a ditch, dead from an unlucky jump. But Rickie notices something strange and his father, Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn, is discreetly summoned to the scene, when Rickie disappears…

With two husbands dead, a daughter marrying the wrong man and a debilitating disease, it is no wonder that Sybil Foster took her own life. But Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn doesn't believe she was the type to kill herself - and he thinks someone else has made a very grave mistake…

Frequently Bought Together

Black As He's Painted / Last Ditch / Grave Mistake (The Ngaio Marsh Collection, Book 10) + Photo-Finish / Light Thickens / Black Beech and Honeydew (The Ngaio Marsh Collection, Book 11) + Clutch of Constables / When in Rome / Tied Up In Tinsel (The Ngaio Marsh Collection, Book 9)
Price For All Three: 28.52

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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007328788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007328789
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dame Ngaio Marsh was born in New Zealand in 1895 and died in February 1982. She wrote over 30 detective novels and many of her stories have theatrical settings, for Ngaio Marsh's real passion was the theatre. She was both actress and producer and almost single-handedly revived the New Zealand public's interest in the theatre. It was for this work that the received what she called her 'damery' in 1966.

Product Description


"It's time to start comparing Christie to Marsh instead of the other way around." --"New York "magazine

From the Back Cover

At first it looked as if Sybil Foster had intentionally left the world: with two husbands dead, a daughter marrying the wrong man and – it later appeared – a debilitating disease, it was no wonder she took her own life.

But no one believed she was the type – especially Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn. For the field was ripe with unfortunate engagements – one of them a very grave mistake…

'The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers'

'A brilliant traditional detective story by Dame Ngaio: two bodies in a grave, a stolen stamp, a suicide that wasn't. Impossible to say much more without revealing the telltale clues so cleverly sown in our path.'

'Splendid… intelligence, wit and sheer skill of storytelling.'

'The finest writer in the English language of the pure classical puzzle whodunit. Among the crime queens, Ngaio Marsh stands out as an Empress'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder or suicide? 23 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sybil Foster is rich and lives in a beautiful house which a local millionaire covets. Sybil's daughter Prunella wants to marry Gideon Markos - the millionaire's son - but her mother wants her to marry a peer.

The aptly named Bruce Gardener has returned to the village to live with his widowed sister and offers his services as a gardener to the locals. Some are not too sure he is trustworthy, others welcome him as a Godsend. Sybil decides she needs a rest and goes off to stay in a hotel which offers nursing home facilities. In her absence her step-son, the shifty Claude Carter, arrives to stay.

When Sybil dies in what appears to be a suicide some do not believe her death is what it appears to be and the police are called in to investigate in the person of Roderick Alleyn. What follows is an interesting and very well plotted mystery with plenty of suspects and motives and many strands reaching back into the past. The end is tense and atmospheric and well written.

I enjoyed reading this mystery and even stayed up late and then woke up early the following morning in order to finish it because I had to know who the murderer was. There are just so many suspects with plausible motives and suspicious behaviour that it is only a very perceptive reader who will have worked out who the guilty person is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 1 May 2013
By Janetti
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you like period detective novels , this is fine for you. There are some good characters and there are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. Very enjoyable. I find Ngaio Marsh a not very deep, but nevertheless good read and entertaining.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and well-plotted 6 April 2014
By Aletheuon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Last Ditch is the twenty-ninth Roderick Alleyn mystery and was published in 1977. It is set in the Channel Islands, though they are not named in the book. Ngaio Marsh had been writing about Alleyn since 1934 and, although they don't seem to have aged much in many ways, their son Ricky is now 21. He has just finished an English degree and dreams of becoming a writer, so he retreats to the Channel Isles for peace and inspiration. He stays in a quiet, picturesque fishing village where nothing much happens - and finds a body in a ditch. Roderick Alleyn arrives to investigate drug crime and to look after Ricky, who is himself in danger... The plot advances intrigueingly and the end of the book is ingenious and difficult to guess.
As with all mystery novels which centre around one individual, the writer is forced to create a situation where her detective and his family are constantly falling over bodies. Of course, if this happened in real life they'd either have a nervous breakdown or end up being the chief suspect, since people die under suspicious circumstances wherever they go! One simply has to accept this somewhat ludicrous situation, whether the detective is Poirot, Campion or Alleyn. Marsh writes intelligent, literate novels with a sly sense of humour, good pace and vivid, convincing characters. She has a good sense of place and makes the setting come alive for the reader.
Ngaio Marsh seems to me to have struggled to accommodate the social changes of the sixties and seventies in her writings. She belonged in the more structured world of her youth, when life was slower and social distinctions were rigid. However, she was a theatrical and no prude and she did reflect social change in her writings. This is an enjoyable, entertaining story and there is lots of fun as well as tension and excitement,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good buy 31 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone like to add a good story to their collection cant to any better than to have this book. Enjoyed it and will read again.
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