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Death and the Dancing Footman Paperback – 18 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (18 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006512372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006512370
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,934 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

Review

‘The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers’
Times Literary Supplement

‘On the plane of art.’
Tatler

‘Nobody in her racket begins to touch her for writing grace and few possess her skill at creating potential corpses and suspects, building a puzzle and other essentials of grand and lofty detection. There hasn’t been anyone like her since the palmiest days of Dorothy L. Sayers.’
New York Herald Tribune

‘She is astoundingly good.’
Daily Express

‘The finest writer in the English languange of the pure, classical puzzle whodunnit. Among the crime queens, Ngaio Marsh stands out as an Empress.’
The Sun

Book Description

A favourite Ngaio Marsh title sees Alleyn facing a snowbound mystery --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jan. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very good example of Marsh's English countryside settings and an excellent example both of a closed-circle, claustrophobic, country house murder mystery and of a collection of unpleasant and mutually antagonistic characters.

Jonathan Royal, a batchelor with a love for theatre, hosts a tension-filled weekend party at his country house with seven guests, chosen deliberately because of their mutual animosity. The house and surrounding countryside, however, become snowbound and, during the subsequent mounting hysteria, one of the guests is murdered. Everyone present has a motive for murder but also an alibi for the time of death. Roderick Alleyn, as police investigator, soon realizes that Thomas, the dancing footman, has an important part to play in narrowing down the possibilities.

This is a great read and a 'must' for inclusion in any Ngaio Marsh collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jonathan Royal decides on a little mischief making and holds a house party in which all the guests have quarrels or enmities with each other. The party starts during a snow storm with all the guests snowed in and unable to go anywhere for the duration. Two apparent practical jokes make the company uneasy and it starts to seem that maybe someone could end up dead. Nicholas Compline feels he is the intended victim and at least some of the guests think the perpetrator is a plastic surgeon - Dr Francis Hart.

When a murder finally takes place it leaves the guests shocked and chastened - and for a while without the police to investigate. Roderick Alleyn does not appear on the scene until two thirds of the way through the book - thanks to the snow. When he does appear, he and his team very quickly sort the wheat from the chaff and solve the murder. Another guest has died before the murderer is unmasked and the guests sent home.

I enjoyed this book and thought the relationships between the house party guests were well done. There are plenty of clues scattered around for the observant reader to pick up but it is all too easy to become mired in the detail and completely fail to spot the murderer. In my opinion you can't beat Ngaio Marsh's plotting skills or her ability to create believable characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Avid Listener on 7 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Anton Lesser reading Ngaio Marsh and the 'handsome' Inspector
Alleyn as the hero...what more could you ask from a novel when
being read with such expertise. Country house drama at its best.
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By DJF on 18 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
Written in the 1940s this is a light detective novel, very much on a par with Agatha Christie. Jonathan Royal has decided to invite a group of people for the weekend with the intention of watching their difficult interaction with each other. His amusement at their sparring disolves when it becomes apparent that things are a little more serious and someone could get killed.

I am sure that I must have read books by Ngaio Marsh in the past but nothing springs to mind. Despite this being part of a series including Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn I did not feel hampered by not remembering any details from any other books in the series which I may have read. In fact, Alleyn doesn't appear until about three quarters of the way through the book so his part is quite small.

The characters are as you would expect from this type of book - an author, 2 women who dislike each other, two brothers who have been engaged to the same woman and dislike each other, a couple of affairs and a woman whose looks have been ruined. Add to this the host and Mandrake, an author, who is included by Royal in order to watch the fireworks, and you have all the necessary characters. Everyone has a reason for disliking each other and more become apparent as the weekend progresses. Add a snowstorm so no one can leave and you have the perfect scene for a murder.

Although this isn't a deep psychological detective story, there is enough depth of plot and character to make it enjoyable and flow along well. In some ways this book is quite dated & the reader does have to travel back in time in order to get people's behaviour into context. However, I enjoyed spending a while in a 1940s bubble.

I did enjoy this book - so much so that I shall look out for others in this series. It was well constructed and flowed well. A light story which was ideal for escapism and relaxation.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's a country house murder mystery, but it's far from cosy. Eccentric, wealthy Jonathan Royle handpicks his weekend guests in the early months of the war, taking great care to ensure they will all hate each other. James Saxon reads the unabridged version. He's a great reader of Christie and especially Marsh, achieving feats of characterisation when faced with dodgy Australian parsons and rough-diamond tourists. But he doesn't do so well here - he seems daunted by this cast of upper middle class guests, a couple of Viennese refugees, and a chorus of domestics and rustics. He responds by making all the house party members sound affected. Lesser doesn't fall into this trap - he's a very good reader and I look forward to listening to his Dickens. But unfortunately this version is abridged. Marsh's original book could do with abridging, and sensibly this version has trimmed the yokels and servants. However, a lot of dialogue is cut, meaning that the dramatis personae lose personality, and the romance seems rushed and uninteresting. Dialogue that isn't cut ends up as reported speech, which is dull. The abridger seems to have concentrated on the mystery at the expense of atmosphere and human interest.
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