©1942 Ngaio Marsh; (P)2001 BBC Audiobooks Limited
A good, solid story. As usual, Marsh here excels at defining her characters. An interesting variation of the snowbound-with-a-murderer scenario. However, be warned: do NOT listen to this book before reading/listening to "Overture to Death". In the author's world, "Death and the Dancing Footman" takes place a few years later than "Overture to Death" and characters make references to events in the earlier case that could spoil your enjoyment.
A combustible mix of quirky individuals gather for a weekend house party. Their intertwined histories, jealousies, resentments, and passions spiral into murder. All the classic elements of the Golden Age mystery are here, realized ingeniously. Plot, character, and writing are rich in colorful detail. Narration is elegant, with each character's individuality realized with perfect nuance and consistency. Excellent choice for fans of Dorothy Sayers and P. D. James.
I have enjoyed other Ngaio Marsh books, so was disappointed in this one. None of the characters was likable and I lost interest in them, and lost interest in the plot.
The first half encompassed a story around characters that I did not like. The second half, I liked the characters. It was not up to my personal "mystery" standards. I love inspector Allyen so I tolerated this story. Sorry...the truth!
Absolutely! I have given copies of this book and Black as He's Painted, another Ngaio Marsh book, to many friends for Christmas. I love the premise that Marsh set up, where any one guest in the party may become the victim, as each person hates everyone else! The book is creative and enjoyable. It is a good example of a "cozy mystery"!
Marsh takes her time setting up the premise of the book and the character development, with all characters being complex and with plenty of motivation to kill anyone else in the snowed-in weekend party. Alleyn didn't even appear until the last third or so of the book. I can't tell you the most memorable parts in detail without giving away the victim and criminal, but the murder attempts and success, as well as the unveiling of the criminal were most dramatic and creative.
Certainly! I've listened to this book probably about a dozen times, and some have been in one setting, all 8 hours or so and all!
Dame Ngaio Marsh is considered to be one of the three queens of the golden age of mystery, along with Dame Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, but of all mystery writers, she does the best job of developing her characters effectively before the murder, so the mystery is based less on clues, psychology (AKA Hercule Poirot's "little gray cells"), or tracking down the thief than on the character of the people involved in the books. Well done!
Veterinary Technician, book addict.
This is one of my favorite Ngaio Marsh stories and I am very happy to have it in audio. The preview snippet stops just before the principal narrator character speaks and his "voice" is very important to the book. The reader chose to give him a deep, quiet voice that is prefect for the character of an introspective dramatist that surprises everyone (including himself) by being a tower of strength.
I always enjoy a good cozy, and Marsh is one of the best at writing them. This effort has a lot to recommend it--intriguing characters, a glimpse into the "country house life," hints of WWII which was just beginning, and a good plot--but Alleyn comes into it so late that we don't get the full chance to enjoy him. The reader was fairly good, but his Viennese characters, especially Mme Liis, got annoying. Still, a pleasant way to get through March in Maine!
Narration - Of the narrator's of Ngaio Marsh books, James Saxon is my favorite. In some of the recordings the quality makes him a bit hard to understand, but overall his tone and narrative style suit the Roderick Alleyn series perfectly.
Characters - The characters in this book are an ensemble cast of enemies at a house party hosted by a bored man who wants to build his own real-life drama play. I found there were no characters in this book which I disliked entirely which therefore kept me vested in the book more than some. The mix of characters with their quirks makes for an enjoyable read.
Plot - It is definitely best read these in order as Marsh often refers to characters and plot points from previous books throughout this series. This is one of my favorite books in the series. The plot starts out with a lot of foreboding as the organizer of the house party explains his guest list to his primary guest and explains how he has invited a family whose mother dotes on the youngest son while the oldest adores her in return and dislikes his brother, in addition the elder brother is bringing his fiancee who was first engaged to the younger brother. In addition, the younger brother's new mistress is invited as is her rumored other paramour and her business rival, who happens to be the cousin of the party organizer. Interesting times ahead. The book is full of red herrings and side stories. Definitely a "Must Read" for fans of this genre.
"Death and the Dancing Footman (Unabridged)"
All the characters in the book come to life. There are enough false trails to make it difficult to second guess the author until near the end when lots of loose ends are also tidied up. Well worth the listen.
"Not enough Alleyn"
Not one of Ngaio Marsh's most engrossing stories. It takes a long time to get to the murder and as a consequence Alleyn doesn't appear until about 7 hours in and when he does he knows who the murderer is almost immediately. I also found it very easy to guess.
"Slow & somewhat boring"
It was over half way through before Alleyn appeared at all. By that time I had lost interest in the rather irritating characters. I was so surprised, expecting a lively, gripping 'whodunit'. I will try another Alleyn mystery. Surely this is not the best of Ngaio Marsh? I've just started on 'Off with his head'. I really hope it's better than this one.
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