©1938 Ngaio Marsh; (P)1993 Chivers Audio Books
I'm a huge Ngaio Marsh fan and, as is true of any fan of a particular series, I have my own idea of how her wonderful characters should sound and how the dialogue should be paced. Saxon does a great job with this book. The characters come alive in the mind's eye as he voices them. The action and dialogue in "Death in a White Tie" begins almost immediately making it one of the better Marsh candidates for an audio book. Saxon's reading does it great credit.
For Ngaio Marsh fans, a newly offered delight. This is one of her earlier (1938) Roderick Alleyn mysteries and she crafted it elegantly, with suspense, glamour, romance, wit, and puzzlement. Grande Dames, Detectives, Debutantes, Dashing Heroes, and Dastardly Villains. For those new to Marsh, start here. Marsh was the real thing: a superb writer, and great plotter, with a master playwright's ear for dialogue. If you like the recently-published mystery series starring titled Britishers set between the WWs, try the genuine article. This recorded version is narrated with verve and energy.
A tight and well thought out plot line keeps this period piece worthwhile. The characters are more black and white rather than shades of grey, so it is all the more important for the plot line to be intricate and for the pieces of the puzzle to be doled out carefully throughout the length of the book in order to give each reader the mental thrill of discovering each clue. Ngaio Marsh is a master at this style of writing.
The recording itself was old and unbalanced in spots.
No, but I don't listen to any book longer than an two hours in one sitting.
If you like Agatha Christie and other books of that time period, you will enjoy this one.
This novel had all the components I like in detective stories. Good plot and interesting subplots, a nice tempo, exceptional dialogue. Not just great characters but the relationships between characters -- Alleyn with his mother, Alleyn with Troy, the elderly parson and his wife, the 'young couple in love' (Marsh often includes these in her novels), the blackmailed woman with her husband and with her daughter. I enjoyed the 'police procedural' component, which seemed more interesting because of Alleyn's personal affection for the deceased. The lengthy interrogations are well done in terms of dialogue.
I've listened to it several times since i bought it a year ago and I'm always impressed with Marsh's skill in this book in particular and with James Saxon as always.
It's a by-the-book Marsh, so to speak: lovely characters, quite a bit of a guessing game going on, lovely impression of the white-tie upper-class London society at its worst & most vulnerable. I loved the reader, too: James Saxon is very good at subtly changing his voice for each important character, without overdoing it to the point of histrionics, though. All in all, definitely worth it for any classic detection aficionado.
the narrative was not as easy to listen to as most of the other books in the series
the narration could have been clearer. not enunciated
I have long since been a Ngaio Marsh reader. I've now gone back to school and only have time read textbooks. Listening as I travel in my car has been a joy.
I am a mystery buff and listening has taken the stress out of my commute. I don't care about the traffic - just what is going to happen next.
I am quite pleased with Mr. Saxon's performance. I believe I've purchased all the Marsh books he performed.
I would not recommend this version of the book (I see audible has another version) because the sound quality was just awful - very inconsistent, at sometimes nearly garbled at others crystal clear and it seemed to change for no particular reason and at unpredictable times.
His performance was good but ruined by the terrible audio.
Narration - James Saxon - nicely done as always
Quality - a bit low due to being on a cassette originally, inconsistent clarity and some variation in tape speed from the sound of it. Changing narration speed did not help. As the story progressed it became worse to the point that it sounded as though there was a completely different narrator which is extremely unfortunate because I have heard the original and know that James Saxon does a terrific job with this. Audible should get a better quality recording.
Story - Someone is blackmailing women of the ton. Scotland Yard enlists Alleyn's friend Bunchy to help catch the blackmailer. Right after figuring out who the blackmailers were he is murdered on his way to meet Inspector Alleyn and reveal the identity of the blackmailers. Very, very sad as he is a wonderful person and the character is well developed. It was especially painful because he was estranged with his nephew and died while feeling sad, disenchanted, and depressed. He deserved a much better end. Part of the sadness over Bunchy's death is due to how strong the grief and sadness the other characters in the book genuinely feel for the loss of him including the usually implacable Inspector Alleyn.
Characters - My biggest criticism is that there are so many subplots and additional characters in this novel that it is hard to keep track of them all and I found some of them hard to care about so my mind wandered during some of the overdone byplay between them all. As always Lady Alleyn adds a bit of relief and makes me chuckle as does the ever present Fox and his treatment of his "superior". This also contains another push in the relationship between Agatha Troy and Inspector Alleyn. I found that I simply could not be sympathetic for Lady Caradoss as I was intended to. I felt that she was vain and silly and could have prevented a lot of her problems if she had even an ounce of strength of character. The younger characters in the book were just vacuous and naive beyond belief and somewhat irritating. A lot of the minor characters in this one were just so stereotypical that I didn't really care about them at all. On a side note, I think Marsh gets better with the side characters in later books. I did like the fact that she gave us a wide variety of unlikable characters to try to deduce the murder from.
I did like the way they worked Troy into helping set Alleyn on the right track to find the blackmailers. It was well done by integrating her artistic sense into her observations which lent them an air of believability. I do not care for the way the romantic elements were handled in this book toward the end. It was out of character for both characters and really left me thinking it should have been re-written, but it does serve the purpose to set the stage for the next phase of the relationship between Alleyn & Troy.
"The standard remains High with this offering"
Marsh continues to give value with this offering as does the versatile James Saxons reading. His characterisation brings Nagiro Marshes well developed personalities to life, and both enhance the rythum of the tale. It catches the feelling of this era, and section of society well.
"Good, old-fashioned crime fiction"
To enjoy this book you need to forget gritty realism of modern policing and immerse yourself in the fictional world where members of high society are murdered and the crime is investigated by one of their own. It's a world of coming-out balls, ladies of leisure with their social secretaries, where young men over-spend their allowances and are duped by bounders. As in Agatha Christie novels you also need to grit your teeth as foreigners are called Degoes and anti-semitic remarks are causally made. These caveats apart it's an easy listen and James Saxon does a splendid job of enacting the speech patterns of a wide variety of characters.
"Keeps you guessing to the last"
A classic 'whodunnit' of the highest order. Ngaio Marsh introduces the characters, brings them to life, and then kills one off, leaving you to work out which one of the others is the killer. It's constructed perfectly, giving the listener ample opportunity to work out his own theory, with clues helpfully provided along the way. For what it's worth, I picked the wrong man!
The reading is also wonderful, allowing you to distinguish between characters, but without being obtrusive.
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