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Product details

  • Audio CD: 3 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; Abridged edition edition (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405507985
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405507981
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,114 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

‘It’s all good Ngaio Marsh, and that is good enough to satisfy the most critical reader of detective stories.’
New York Times

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

Book Description

A theatre audience get a lot more than they expected when treated to a very authetic on-stage death...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 April 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First Sentence: On May 25th Arthur Surbonadier, whose real name was Arthur Simes, went to visit his uncle, Jacob Saint, whose real name was Jacob Simes.

When Inspector Roderick Alleyn accepts an invitation to the theater from his friend, newspaper journalist Nigen Bathgate, he doesn't expect to be witness to a murder. During a scene in the play, actors Arthur Surbonadier and Felix Gardner struggle over a gun.

The gun had been loaded by Arthur but, in the struggle, fired by Felix and Arthur dies. Unfortunately, the planned blanks were live and the stage death is real. The question is, was it murder or suicide? Who exchanged out the blanks?

It is a delight to read Ngaio Marsh right from the first page. It is a wonderful period; between the wars. Police inspectors were highly educated; in this case an Oxford man. I always love the literary and historical references Alleyn uses in his conversations.

Even for the period, however, the dialogue does seem a bit stilted to me. I am always amused by Alleyn's irreverence and apparent facetious manner. The lack of expletives is refreshing: "Props uttered a few well-chosen and highly illuminating words. "He was" were the only two of them that were printable." I was also amused when a character would be mentioned but you were immediately advised that character was not germane to the story.

In today's world, you would never find a detective using a journalist to do their investigative work but a confrontation between Alleyn and Bathgate was effective in legitimizing their working together.

It is plot that drove the story; who did it, how and why? It is a bit frustrating knowing that the author holds back information from the reader until the final confrontation.

Nonetheless, I always enjoy rereading the Golden Age authors and Marsh in particular.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lacey Green on 31 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As usual, Ms Marsh plots events skilfully and creates characters that grip the reader's interest sometimes as pitiful creatures or grotesques but always as individual human beings from most walks of society. In this novel her professional theatrical experience lets her draw the reader into a small world, insidiously corrupted by ambition and jealousy, in which drink and drugs lead to murder. The investigating officers, chief of whom is actually present in the audience, disentangle a sticky web of lies and evasions.

The settings are always convincing, the dialogue dramatically fits its speakers and the style is economical and witty. Ms Marsh may indicate foul language but she does not reproduce it. She does not shy away from the violence and horror of murder but she does not encourage the reader to lick their lips over it: she leaves us in no doubt of her judgement that murder is always diabolical, destroying both the victim and what is left of humanity in the killer, cutting them off from society. Most people, she implies, are capable of killing, but we choose not to. I would recommend this book to any open-minded, literate reader interested in theatre, the mores of the Thirties and human nature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second book featuring Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn. In this mystery, Alleyn is invited to the theatre by journalist friend, Nigel Bathgate, who he met in the first adventure, “A Man Lay Dead.” Again, Bathgate knows one of the principal characters, in this case the leading man, Felix Gardener. During the play, Gardener is supposed to pretend to shoot Arthur Surbonadier, fellow actor, nephew of the theatre owner, disgruntled loser of the leading part and rival for the hand of leading lady, Stephanie Vaughan. However, the gun goes off for real and both Alleyn and Bathgate watch fiction become reality as the body slumps to the stage.

Author Ngaio Marsh was, herself, very involved in the theatre and was an acclaimed Shakespearian producer and this novel is full of her knowledge of the world of actors and backstage rivalries. It is humorous when Alleyn is annoyed by the actors hamming it up and you do wonder if she is having a sly dig for her own amusement. Overall, though, the theatre setting gives the book an interesting background. There are lots of interesting suspects and motives, before the final reconstruction when the murderer is revealed in their true colours. This is a delightful Golden Age mystery, with a fun plot and cast of characters and Alleyn is a wonderful detective. The next book in the series is “The Nursing Home Murder."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Feb. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Roderick Alleyn, Scotland Yard detective, accepts an invitation to the theatre from Nigel Bathgate, a journalist friend. It turns out to be a case of being in the right place at the right time when I murder is committed on stage in front of him.

Arthur Surbonadier, a nephew of the theatre owner, Jacob Saint, is murdered for real instead of just as part of the action of the play. Even though Alleyn is on the spot it is still a difficult case to solve and there are many twists and turns to the plot before the murderer is brought to justice.

I enjoyed the story but found some of the dialogue just a touch too theatrical. It fits the theatrical background but I found it grated on me after a while. The only other Ngaio Marsh story I had read prior to this was Final Curtain which is much later in the series and I felt that Alleyn was much less likeable as a character in this book than he was in the later one. It is clear he grew and changed as the series developed.

That said, the book is well plotted and the murder ingenious. The corpse is suitably dislikeable as well and it is clear many people could have murdered him from motive alone, including his own uncle. An enjoyable read though maybe not the author's best book.
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