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4.3 out of 5 stars26
4.3 out of 5 stars
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2001
Roderick Alleyn, the younger son of a Buckinghamshire family and the star of Ngaio Marsh's novels is the perfect English detective. A gentleman, intelligent and not afraid of his emotions. In "Artists in Crime" he was introduced to painter Agatha Troy, and this novel sees their relationship develop. However, this is not a soppy romance set against a detecive background. Set during the London "season", society scandals end in blackmail and murder. As old friends are suffering can Alleyn find the culprits and get justice, avenging the late Robert "Bunchy" Gospel? Plotted to perfection, the murderer is well hidden enough to keep the readers guessing with out being completly unexpected. Marsh really was thye master of her craft.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2002
This book is a must have for readers of Crime fiction. There is an excellent plot that has you either loving or hating the charaters in her web of death and lies. Roderick Allyen and Brer Fox are shown to work tierlessly to solve the murder of one of Alleyn's oldest friend and the clues lead... well its too good to give the game away Read this for yourself!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Morris dancing tradition and some pretty unpleasant people lead to murder in a small village at Christmas and Roderick Alleyn is called in to investigate a complex case. Camilla Campion has been invited to meet her estranged family, the Andersens, who make up most of the cast in the Dance of the Five Sons.

Unfortunately her grandfather, William Campion, is murdered during the dance on Sword Wednesday, close to Christmas. The villagers suspect Mrs Bunz - a German visitor collecting information about rural traditions - of somehow being involved in the murder but it seems impossible that anyone could commit a murder in full view of a crowd of people.

There are many unpleasant undercurrents in this well plotted mystery with plenty of family feuds and hidden motives. Unless the reader is very good at putting all the bits together they will be unlikely to work out who committed the murder and how it was done. The ending - which involves a reconstruction of the crime - is very well done and a tense and exciting read.

The characters are well drawn as ever and Alleyn himself is much in evidence in this story as the murder happens quite early on. Inspector Fox also plays quite a large part in it as well. This is an enjoyable and well constructed story and I would recommend it to anyone who likes their crime novels in the classic mould.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Roderick Alleyn - Scotland Yard detective - enlists the help of his friend Lord Robert Gospell to try and find out more about what appears to be a case of blackmail. Unfortunately Lord Robert, known as Bunchy to his friends, is murdered after he discovers who is responsible for the blackmail. Alleyn now feels the case is personal and vows to track down the murderer if it is the last thing he does.

This is a complex mystery involving some long hidden secrets and some very nasty characters who prey on people's weaknesses. Agatha Troy appears in this novel and Alleyn renews his attempts to persuade her to take him seriously as a possible husband. I enjoyed this book and found it difficult to work out who committed the murder as there are plenty of clues but plenty of red herrings too.

If you like your crime novels in the classic mould then try this Ngaio Marsh. The novels can be read in any order though if you read them in the order in which they were published the relationships between the series characters are easier to follow.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2000
Please be aware that this book is titled differently in the UK compared to the US. The UK title for this book is "Off With His Head" while the US title is "Death of a Fool"
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 April 2014
Death in a White Tie is the seventh Roderick Alleyn mystery, first published in 1938. Confusingly, it is also titled 'Off With His Head' (one title was used in the US, the other in the UK, I think). It is set in London during the Season and its central characters come from the British aristocracy. Their elegant, cultivated, bitchy, often small-minded society provides the backdrop. Blackmail is in the air and Alleyn asks a friend, Lord Robert Gospell, to do a little espionage in his behalf. When Gospell is found dead, Alleyn feels both guilty and angry, and sets himself to solve the mystery of Lord Robert's death...
As ever, Ngaio Marsh's accomplished prose is a pleasure to read. She writes intelligently and with sharp wit and acute observation. Every detail is telling and vivid. As ever, too, the characters are beautifully imagined and drawn. One really likes Lord Robert and feels Alleyn's grief and anger at his death. This means that one does no read the book merely to find out the solution to the puzzle, but for the sheer pleasure of the journey.
Alleyn's relationship with Agatha Troy is developing nicely, from his point of view, and he is a little obsessed with her. Personally, I find her a bit irritating and much preferred Belinda Lang in the TV dramatization of this story, who was less eccentric and complicated than the Troy of the books. She is so dishevelled and hung up about actually committing to Alleyn that she got on my nerves. It is interesting to me that Ngaio Marsh originally planned to be a painter before becoming an actress and producer and a writer. This caused me to wonder whether she was Troy, in the same way as Dorothy L Sayers was Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey the ideal man of her fantasies. There are similarities between Roderick Alleyn and Peter Wimsey, both from the upper crust, both gentleman detectives, both attractive and highly intelligent, though one was an amateur and the other a Detective Inspector. Well, that's my little theory! If so, perhaps what occupied Ngaio Marsh's mind (and therefore Troy's) may have been the struggle between insisting on being an independent woman with a career and the pressure to surrender to a man and therefore to his needs and lifestyle. in the thirties, to be both married and your own person was undoubtedly very difficult, because of the then perception of a wife's role in life. And that's my little digression.
There are plenty of plot twists and red herrings before Alleyn finds the murderer. As ever, Marsh's strong sense of place and scene brings the background vividly alive and the story progresses at a good pace. She really is an excellent writer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2013
If you love 1930's detective novels, then this one is a good one! I've loved Ngaio Marsh murder mysteries since my childhood, and how wonderful to have the story told by such an accomplished actor as Benedict Cumberbatch. Each character (and there are a fair number) has it's own distinct voice and the overall pace of the piece is good. Yes, it is an abridged version of the book, but the cutting has been done very well and is not really noticable, unless you know the original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2011
Excellent story as usual from Ngaio Marsh, would recommend highly. My only niggle with this item was the changes made to the packaging. The thin sleeve on the box is flimsy and looks cheaper than the previous boxes which were printed on. As I keep my audiobooks long term I believe the new packaging will become tatty rather quickly. Only a minor irritation.
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on 19 March 2013
I had read this before and have now read it again having bought it for my Kindle. It is a wonderful period piece, the story revolving round the London season in the late 1930's (it was published in 1938) and the debutantes balls. A kindly old man (gentleman I suppose, given that he is a lord) helps Scotland Yard tackle a blackmailer who is targeting the mothers of debs - the plot thickens and murder ensues. Various people have to be grilled in the most decorous way possible until the killer is run to ground. I remembered whodunnit from reading the book before, so I was aware of the ending all the way through, but the book is an enjoyable re-read in its own right. Will be ordering 'Death and the Dancing Footman' for my Kindle soon - another cracking book by Ngaio Marsh, that I will read again with pleasure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2012
The Kindle edition of this book is advertised as containing 848 pages, and states that the price (£3.99) represents a saving of 60% on the list price of £12.99. However, if you check the ISBN for the print edition, it refers to an omnibus containing three Ngaio Marsh titles: the Kindle edition contains only one book, at nothing like the advertised 848 pages - and naturally, the price for one is lower than the price for three: the saving isn't a saving at all. I love the convenience of my Kindle when I'm travelling, but I'm really not impressed by this sort of dishonesty. The book itself is wonderful: the low rating here only refers to the inaccuracy of the sales tactics.
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