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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A lover of audiobooks of all kinds, since childhood, when long car journeys were accompanied by Discworld stories. @ReineDesLivres (Twitter)
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.
I love the book, but Benedict Cumberbatch's performance adds an extra dose of goodness.
I loved the scene between Alleyn and Lord Robert where the inspector enlists his friend to "go undercover."
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.
The interactions between Alleyn and Troy were very sweet.
Met my expectations in all ways but one.
It should never have been abridged., and Benedict cumberbatch should read every book of Ngiao Marsh's unabridged.
He was superb.
I expected the staid reserved story line, but was disappointed in how the story was revealed. And I kept getting the characters confused.
No, I generally like this genre.
Not sure... tough question.
I can't really answer this question, because I stopped listening half way through.
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.
"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.
"a trip to 30's high society"
YES, the performance had the lively quality of a radio play. I felt every moment that I was in the room.
Inspector Alleyn description of Troy; "would he ever recover from the love of her"
He has a mastery of voices that bring each character vividly to life, conjuring a whole person out of the air.
Allen and Troy' s reunion.
After listening to "death in white tie" I immediately downloaded another Marsh/Cumberbatch book.
"Talented Writer, Talented Narrator"
Benedict Cumberbatch's narration was amazing, proving he is as amazing narrator as well as a talented and amazing actor!! More please!!
Excellent story, strong characters
Yes listened to them all, I'd love more, he's someone along with Tom Hiddleston I could listen to all day long!.....
Yes, couldn't bring myself to stop listening
"Entertaining and well read"
A classic who-dun-it from a still very popular author. The downside of this book is that it's abridged - shame! However, the upside is that it's narrated by the absolutely excellent Benedict Cumberbatch who brings it alive in such a way that it's quite a job to realise that it's just one person reading this book. I just wish that it was the whole book he was reading, and not an abridged version.
Yeees......... It was a pleasant way to pass a few hours and of course Benedict Cumberbatch is great but I literally can't remember what the book was about only a couple of weeks later!
Made it more interesting
cant remember any of them!
No. One was enough
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