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 Original Text of 1938 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers." (Times Literary Supplement)
"Ngaio Marsh’s Death in a White Tie is the best detective story I have ever read..." (Dashiell Hammett)
"[This audiobook has] a distinction that puts the author in the front rank of crime story writers." (Times Literary Supplement)
Ngaio Marsh and Inspector Alleyn are as reliable as ever in this mystery, and I don't feel much need to review the story itself. If you enjoy Ngaio Marsh novels, include this in your reading, it's a no brainer. Unfortunately this narrator is not so great, and the sound quality of the recording is atrocious, which makes this overall a mixed review.
First of all, the narrator James Saxon does a good enough job of speaking clearly and getting pauses, inflections, and pronunciations correct. And he does possess the capacity for a wide range of character voices. But he's not disciplined enough in their use to make it a great rading. As noted by others, he is hit and miss about giving the characters distinctive voices consistently, and the accent of one character often bleeds into surrounding prose or even other characters' lines. So, when you have a choice among narrators for a Ngaio Marsh title, I would definitely recommend Nadia May over James Saxon, and Philip Franks did a frankly masterful job on the title he narrated.
Finally, the recording quality here is downright atrocious. It's not just a matter of some general noisiness common to 90s-era and earlier audiobooks that were recorded or archived on tape. That's annoying, but one gets past it relatively quickly.
In the case of this book however, chapter by chapter there are variations in volume levels, background hiss, and recording quality. Some chapters sound like a 70s-era cassette recording of a 30s era radio broadcast. Even then, if the quality were consistently bad, it would be one thing, but it jumps around and every time it gets worse, you get more annoyed. This is just plain bad product, and that makes it all the more enraging that Audible is charging a premium price.
I expect an $18 audiobook to be a new recording, or a really excellent older recording. But this is just terrible, and Audible shouldn't be charging more than five bucks for it.
The book was good but the recordings itself was so poor it was hard to enjoy. I had to listen to the entire recording at three-quarter speed in order to distinguish the words. Disappointing.
For me, Ngaio Marsh's early books, where Roderick Alleyn and later Agatha Troy are more involved in the story, not just the investigation, are the best. Alleyn investigates the murder of a close friend and during the case meets Troy again. Their romance is a subdued but satisfying part of the story.
Normally I enjoy James Saxon's reading but at times his transition between characters was not clear. This made it hard at times to tell who was speaking, especially in scenes between Alleyn and Troy.
I love Ngaio Marsh and couldn't wait to listen to this. However, the narrator sounds like he recorded the audio through a door or something. Scratchy, distant, and muffled. I hope the others aren't like this. The previous books with the same narrator have been great.
It's a typically good Ngaio Marsh with plenty of red herrings and an "interlude for romance" between Alleyn and his beloved Troy.
I loved the character of Lord Robert and determination with which Alleyn pursued the murderer.
There wasn't much differentiation between characters and it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. This was hampered by an overall problem with volume levels. From chapter to chapter, and occasionally within chapters, the sound varied to the point where I had to turn the volume up or down at least 4 levels.
It has already been beautiful done by the BBC as part of the Mystery series. I highly recommend it, especially the wonderful Harold Innocent as Lord Robert.
A good story but the sound quality made it hard to enjoy. I'd recommend the abridged version featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. You miss some of the characters and plot, but the performance is outstanding.
Classic Ngaio Marsh
The quality of the recording was not very good. It felt like a conversion from tape to cd to digital. Like it was mono rather than stereo most of the time.
It sounded as though there were two different readers for this audiobook, but perhaps the audio was simply poor quality? It was confusing to hear seemingly two different male readers (one with a lower voice, one with a higher voice) portraying the characters.
The recording doesn't do justice to this story. The sound quality of the recording was very irregular and the reader was not as good at portraying some of these wonderful characters as others I've enjoyed.
Great to hear the famous writers writing in that old fashioned "who dunnit" style. Can't be read as a series straight though but periodically between other stories.
This story is one of the best in the series. Although far too much happens in two days (as usual), the mystery remains a mystery until the very end and a most satisfying one! In addition, Alleyne wins his love. The narration has uneven patches but it goes well enough. I thought Vassily was pronounced differently in prior readings and maybe incorrect (Russian) here? Curious! Overall, a tremendous story and great fun.
It appeared to be a splicing together of several recordings. The EQ was terrible. I'm places inaudible.
Excellent story from a brilliant writer, only slightly marred by the bad and variable audio quality
"Dreadful quality recording"
A great novel for Ngaio Marsh fans. James Saxon reads very well . Very poor quality recording - some parts sound as though they were recorded at the bottom of a well !
"Mono quality audio"
Trying to get refund as this audio is terrible quality. It sounds very tinny and mono.
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