©1943 Ngaio Marsh; (P)2004 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"The queen of the straight crime novel. Long may she reign!" (Sunday Times [London])
I'm a Marsh fan and am currently listening to this book. It's different in that the death and the appearance of Alleyn don't occur until Part II. Great narration though. We just hang out and get to know the characters at a spa of sorts in New Zealand in the first part.
Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham were the Queens of Crime back in the day, and rightly so. If you've read everything Agatha has to offer, Ngaio will be a treat. A New Zealander, she set most of her novels in England, but a few--including "Colour Scheme"--are set in her native land. Having been to New Zealand, I enjoyed the descriptions of the terrain and especially the insights into the Maori people. (But you have to keep in mind, this was published in 1952, and some of the attitudes of the characters are distinctly non-PC, though the general attitude is one of respect.) This is a WWII story, and captures the unease and suspicion of a country not yet at war, but fearing it will be drawn in regardless. One of the main characters is a delightful and somewhat malicious characature of Sir Laurence Olivier. As Ngaio Marsh was herself an actress on the English stage and doubtless knew Sir Laurence firsthand, this is great fun. The narrator does a great job with the New Zealand, British and Maori accents.
I am going to depart a bit from my normal template I use when reviewing so if anyone is used to my regular posts, I hope you don't mind.
This book was a surprise for me. I am a huge Ngaio Marsh fan but when I was originally reading these, I could not find this title in any of my used bookstores. A couple of decades later and I am now listening to all of the titles in order on audiobook.
Since I have started listening to these I have been biased and prefer the editions narrated by James Saxon. I have yet to listen to a Nadia May that I really connected with. When this one started the first thing that threw me was the narrator. My initial reaction was that I did not care for Ric Jerrom as the narrator, however, within a few chapters he had completely won me over. (Surprise #1). He has a great range and does quite a bit of vocal acrobatics with the characters. Some of them grated on my nerves, but I soon realized they were supposed to.
Continuing on I have habitually struggled with the novels in this series that are based on Maori backgrounds (being a flatfooted, dull American myself) and often do not enjoy them as much. When the story started I was pretty sure that was going to be the case as I quickly got lost in the magnificent names and terms and such for the local tribe. However, once again, after a few chapters I found that I was lost in the story and was oblivious to all of those things as the plot unfolded. (Surprise #2).
As for the plot and characters, this is now among my favorites of this series in both. The characters were delightful (even the ones that I didn't quite like). None of them were so over-the-top that you simply could not identify with them or that they felt "unreal". I enjoyed the interplay of the personalities throughout the book and was soon predicting how the characters would react to the situations and what they would do next. I simply adored the primary character in this book which was not Roderick Alleyn (Suprise #3), in fact although Alleyn is mentioned several times throughout the book he isn't truly introduced until the end.
The plot itself was one that you could feel building and could even predict somewhat what was going to happen, which I normally do not enjoy, however, in this book it completely worked at sucking me in and keeping me on the edge waiting for the murder to happen (Surprise #4).
Finally, the ending where the killer is revealed and explained I found to be phenomenal! I loved how surprising it was and yet how it all worked in completely with the plot that had been building. There were multiple red herrings (as you should expect with Marsh book), but this is one of the few where I truly did not even begin to guess before it was revealed yet was not disgusted at the unlikeliness of the convention explained as to why the murderer was the person it was.
I highly recommend this book to any and all fans of Ngaio Marsh, Roderick Alleyn, or even those who have never read one before. This is one of the few that does not need to be read in order (although you will not giggle at the Fuchling references as I did when the cranky old doctor kept using them).
The location, a remote thermal hot spring in New Zealand, was one I would never have imagined for a Second World War mystery. This is far from so many of today's mysteries, which rely on detailed forensic evidence. This mystery is solved through observation, characterization, and old-fashioned alibi-busting. Interestingly, Inspector Alleyn's role is downplayed in the story, and some of the other characters get a chance to shine.
Ngaio Marsh likes to do a big long build up to the murder as usual. 2/3 is set up, 1/6 is characters trying to think it out then 1/6 cops determing what happen. The usual Marsh mystery. This tale starts with a suspected enemy agent signalling when a ship leaves port. Setting is WWII New Zealand. Of course we know who it is, except others think he's stealing Maori artifacts. And everyone at the out of the way hot springs resort in turns into a detective. And of course Mr Questing the mysterious businessman/spy/artifact thief/whatever, disappears. Possibly stubbling into hot mud pit or pushed in, or staged a disappearance for a getaway. Well written, well constructed set of unique characters.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I enjoyed this very much. Ngaio Marsh holds up very well among classic mystery writers. The action here is during WWII at a hot springs in New Zealand, and you can just hear the bubbling mud and smell the sulfur! The narration is terrific - accents are most convincing. There's a Shakespearean actor, several Maori characters (for whose culture much respect is shown), English expats, and an inspector-in-disguise. Also a low-key, appealing romance.
This book was hard to follow. I kept waiting for something to happen. The real crime did not take place until almost the end and then it became a who dunnit. I was surprised by who did it. I am not used to this type of mystery book, but I am glad I listened to it for a new experience. It was unusual, but not totally boring.
Home school family with six children ages 7-21. We love listening to audible books together. We like Twaddle-free books.
I have read Ngaio Marsh mysteries in the past and really enjoyed them. I decided to try and listen to one. I am more of a visual learner, and that might explain my difficulty with this book. THere are so many characters and details to keep track of, that I failed at it. I felt lost much of the time. With a print book, I could flip back a few pages or chapter and check a detail, or look at the character list in the front of the book, but that is a lot harder with an audio book. If you are an auditory learner with a good memory, you will probably enjoy this story a lot more than I was able to, but just putting out that caveat.
THe story takes place in a rundown hotel out in the sulfuric hinterlands of New Zealand during WWII. There is no detective to try and solve the mystery, but rather all the characters sit around and have long discussions trying to work out who committed the murder.
THe reader does a fine job, It was not his fault that I had trouble following along. I will just have to stick to reading Ngaio Marsh stories in the future.
This started off slow, very slow. I questioned continuing with it; but I did, and it was well worth it. The narrator was wonderful and able to capture the different voices and accents beautifully. I will have to find more of Marsh to read, and might try a paper book next time to see if the experience is much different.
I liked all the characters. I thought the reader did a fantastic job of capturing the essense of each character.
The storyline was lively and interesting.
Taking place in New Zealand and descriptions of landscape and some history of its indigenous people added to the overall story.
"A good story, really well read"
I'd never read this story in book form, and I really enjoyed it. The narrator does different voices well, without interrupting the flow of the story. I've downloaded most of the Ngaio Marsh books and this is top of my list.
"could have been shorter"
Not the best Marsh book I've chanced upon. It plods along for far too long, a lot of the story could have been stripped away to speed things up and stop the reader/listener getting bored (the first time I've actually wished for an "Abridged" version!)
The murder itself doesnt happen until half way into the book at which point it does speed up, but there's still an awful lot of sitting around and talking.
Alleyn (as Alleyn) doesn't turn up until the end, (although he's in the book from the middle).
Ric Jerrom, the narrator was reasonable, having quite a few different voices to contend with, although I did find some of his NZ characters a bit grating (I only hope that that was the point).
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