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Death in a White Tie | [Ngaio Marsh]

Death in a White Tie

The season had begun. Débutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim. But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had already planted his friend Lord Robert Gospell at the scene. But someone else got there first...
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Publisher's Summary

A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.

The season had begun. Débutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim. But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had already planted his friend Lord Robert Gospell at the scene. But someone else got there first...

©1938 Ngaio Marsh; (P)2008 Hachette Digital

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (55 )
5 star
 (30)
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3 star
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Overall
4.1 (43 )
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4.6 (45 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Patricia McBride Pacific Palisades, CA USA 01-09-13
    Patricia McBride Pacific Palisades, CA USA 01-09-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Abridgment, Narration Highlight Weaknesses"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    On the whole, probably not. I'm a fan of Ngaio Marsh and other classic English mystery writers largely for the restoratively escapist experience they provide -- the luxury of immersing myself in a not-too-serious puzzle in an elegantly mannered, rarified society at a distant time, without bothering my little head about the real world questions of social justice and an impermeable class system, economic depression, and xenophobia that also characterized these times. I also consider listening to the perfect vowels and resonant tones of Benedict Cumberbatch's voice a truly satisfying indulgence. Unfortunately, Cumberbatch doesn't do young women spectacularly well, and he does American women less successfully than English women. Since many of the most importent characters in this story, both the ones we're supposed to love and the ones were supposed to despise, are women, that fact makes the escapist exercise of suspending disbelief more difficult, the experience a bit less satisfying. Moreover, I have never thought that Marsh does very well by her characters when they are trying to express deep emotions, especially romantic ones. Lines that had struck me as uninspired or unsuccessful when reading this old favorite--but which I shrugged off, and read on in search of the bad guys -- are revealed as jaw-droppingly silly, vapid, even embarrassing in narration. (I suspect that the abridgment makes it even worse, as these things seem to come even more out of the blue than in the original, but I think the fault is there in the original.). Again, hard to stay rapt in the the moment when the urbane hero is making an implausible goob of himself. Overall I still enjoyed both the narration and the story, but I suspect that I could have spent the time on much more edifying or, alternatively, more effectively escapist, offerings.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Either left the development of the Alleyn -- Troy romance to another time, or done much more with it, more believably. I also would have made Cumberbatch's interpretations of the characters "Donna" and Bridget less affected and more straightforward.


    Which character – as performed by Benedict Cumberbatch – was your favorite?

    A toss-up. Cumberbatch's voice is ideal for Alleyn: I don't think I'd want to hear anyone else do it. Cumberbatch brought out aspects of Lord Robert Gospell's character that I had overlooked when reading the book, so I was surprised and then impressed by what he did with that character.


    Do you think Death in a White Tie needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    As to writing, a moot point: there are many, many Alleyn books, and Dame Ngaio is no longer with us. As to recording, yes, absolutely. Cumberbatch should do as many of these books as possible, preferably focussing on books that have a high proportion of men and/or elderly women in the dramatis personae. And then he should do the Campion stories. And the Lord Peter Wimsey stories. And all the Sherlock Holmes.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 03-08-13
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 03-08-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Utterly charming"

    Benedict Cumberbatch reads Marsh's work brilliantly, giving the story charm and humour, emotion and detail. Set in an upper class realm of debutantes and high society, Marsh's mystery makes for a very entertaining and amusing audiobook. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calliope Toronto, ON, Canada 07-01-14
    Calliope Toronto, ON, Canada 07-01-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "bad pacing and narration"

    I hate to say this because I love Benedict Cumberbatch's speaking voice, but the narration on this audiobook is really bad - the pacing is too quick and, espcially with the fast pacing, it's difficult to tell one speaker from another. There are parts where the narration is much better and there is tone and emotion in the various character's voices, and other times when it sounds like the book is being read quickly with little inflection, as if under time constraints. I don't know if that's a post-production issue or if Cumberbatch read it that way.

    I haven't decided if I'm going to continue or return it. I might choose an unabridged Ngaio Marsh title with a different narrator, as I can see some good mystery underneath it all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DJDecca San Francisco Bay Area 06-29-14
    DJDecca San Francisco Bay Area 06-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "White Tie and Blackmail"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Death in a White Tie to be better than the print version?

    I love the book, but Benedict Cumberbatch's performance adds an extra dose of goodness.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Death in a White Tie?

    I loved the scene between Alleyn and Lord Robert where the inspector enlists his friend to "go undercover."


    Have you listened to any of Benedict Cumberbatch’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I've listened to two others and all are absolutely wonderful. Aside from his deliciously sexy voice, he has a real knack for character voices and gave each their own personality.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The interactions between Alleyn and Troy were very sweet.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JannieBlue Milton, MA United States 07-14-13
    JannieBlue Milton, MA United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2009
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    2
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    "very proper, very slow"
    What disappointed you about Death in a White Tie?

    I expected the staid reserved story line, but was disappointed in how the story was revealed. And I kept getting the characters confused.


    Has Death in a White Tie turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, I generally like this genre.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Benedict Cumberbatch?

    Not sure... tough question.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Death in a White Tie?

    I can't really answer this question, because I stopped listening half way through.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron New York, NY, United States 11-07-08
    Ron New York, NY, United States 11-07-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too precious for words"

    Unbelievably dense, overwrought, and - ultimately - silly. One of those mysteries where meaningful information is too concentrated in the pages dedicated to the solution. I love tales of the English class system - no Bolshi I - but too much of the milieu of this book is preposterous. It gets three stars because the reader was top-notch.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • R. D'Averc
    Hertfordshire, England
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Great voice acting"

    Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic at the voice acting in this one, there are times when you really forget that it is all just him and there isn't some elderly stiff upper lip gentleman or a querulous old woman acting it with him. The storyline itself is great and you will be working to figure out how the crime was pulled off, and serious kudos if you actually manage to guess it before the big reveal.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Brenda
    TROWBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    2/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Talented Writer, Talented Narrator"
    What made the experience of listening to Death in a White Tie the most enjoyable?

    Benedict Cumberbatch's narration was amazing, proving he is as amazing narrator as well as a talented and amazing actor!! More please!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Death in a White Tie?

    Excellent story, strong characters


    Have you listened to any of Benedict Cumberbatch’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Yes listened to them all, I'd love more, he's someone along with Tom Hiddleston I could listen to all day long!.....


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, couldn't bring myself to stop listening


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • SheilaPower
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a trip to 30's high society"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Death in a White Tie to be better than the print version?

    YES, the performance had the lively quality of a radio play. I felt every moment that I was in the room.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Death in a White Tie?

    Inspector Alleyn description of Troy; "would he ever recover from the love of her"


    What does Benedict Cumberbatch bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He has a mastery of voices that bring each character vividly to life, conjuring a whole person out of the air.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Allen and Troy' s reunion.


    Any additional comments?

    After listening to "death in white tie" I immediately downloaded another Marsh/Cumberbatch book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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