This title is also known as Night at the Vulcan.
©1951 Ngaio Marsh; (P)1990 Chivers Audio Books
I had a similar problem to Thomas, with an incomplete recording which had downloaded to my library as 7 hours 20.31 and left me not knowing "whodunnit". This was about the end of October 2011.
I contacted Audible and despite offers of refund and courteous efforts at sending a reload it still did not work and I couldn't seem to make my problem clear. I left it in My Library and having just read the above review went back to check it out again and found it now has 8 hours 23 listed as length, downloads to itunes as 8 hours 18 and finally I know what happens at the end.
So to anyone who has an incomplete copy, check your library again and it may be available to re download completely.
I can only applaud and second Thomas' comments re the abridged recording of "Surfeit of Lampreys" - despite a very good narration, it really cannot do the story justice and it would be wonderful if an unabridged version was available.
Though this recording contains another brilliant performance by James Saxon of another wonderfully-characterized Ngaio Marsh story, as of mid-November 2011, THE RECORDING STOPS TEN MINUTES TOO EARLY ... in fact, right before Inspector Alleyn announces the solution to the mystery! When Audible repairs the file, the story will be highly recommendble for Ngaio Marsh fans.
KEY: If the file runs 7 hours 24 minutes, the recording is defective. If it lasts 7 hours 33 minutes (give or take a minute) it's OK. (OPENING NIGHT on the AudioGo web site runs 7hr 33min.)
You'll note that Audible's recording listed as NIGHT AT THE VULCAN (the American title for OPENING NIGHT) read by James Saxon *does* seem to be the right length. Unfortunately the audio quality of this version is terrible, so I'd advise waiting for Audible to repair OPENING NIGHT. (Aside from technical differences, the two performances are identical, I believe.)
As to the story, OPENING NIGHT presents another homage by Ngaio Marsh to the theater - this time expressed by a more sympathetic collection of characters than in some of her other stage stories. But there are still enough vivid and annoying egoists to add edge and interest to the plot. In general, Marsh is able to evoke some of the most irritating yet nuanced characters in light fiction - and James Saxon always brings these men and women to life most masterfully.
(Rick Jerrom often does as well with individual characters, but I find his rendering of the overall narration less engaging than Saxon's. Jerrom's voice becomes quite repetitive and predictable in its cadences - and I find some of his verbal tricks distracting. Nadia May is duitiful and clear-voiced but she strikes me as much less interesting and engaging than Saxon or Jerrom, particularly in her characterizations.)
OPENING NIGHT contains a couple of nice surprises for died-in-the-wool (q.v.) Ngaio Marsh fans - including references to New Zealand and a startling reapperance by one of the fantastic Lamprey clan. If not as complex as some other stories, OPENING NIGHT remains beautifully written and is a typically charming and diverting entertainment.
(By the way, speaking of the Lampreys, it's really too bad that an unabridged audio performance of SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS, one of Marsh's most elegant and engaging books, remains mostly unvavailble. It's possible that only Stephen Thorne has ever recorded the complete book [for ISIS Audio in 1995, cassette only]. Thorne - one of the best of all British readers - does a wonderful job with SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS. [If only he didn't say "Al-LAIN" rather than "Allen" ... but, then, so does Saxon in his first Marsh recording, SCALES OF JUSTICE (Chivers 1987).] ISIS Audio should be encouraged by Marsh fans to release SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS in MP3 form. ... As to the abridged version of LAMPREYS available on Audible, read by the estimable Anton Lesser, I can only say that shortening any Ngaio Marsh story, presumably by editing out chunks of characterization, makes as much sense as shortening a Sherlock Holmes story by editing out "extraneous" interactions between Holmes and Watson. The appeal of Marsh's stories lies in her evocation of odd-ball families, atmospheres and environments The wonder of SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS rests with the extraordinary eccentricities of the Lamprey family that fill page after charming page. ... Abridgement eliminates the main reason we spend time with Ngaio Marsh's fiction.)
Towards the end of the book, at the crucial who-done-it time, the recording goes wrong. It has trouble somewhere around chapter 10. There seems to be a part skipped and then the chapter repeats itself. To make matters worse, the recording quality goes funky. If this set of issues could be cleared up, then future listeners would be spared having to figure out what's going on.
I would not recommend this recording of it but would recommend the book/story to fans of Ngaio Marsh.
In this book, the author does spend more time with the scene and characters and less time with the solving of the crime. Clearly, Ngaio Marsh is devoted to the professions of acting and theater; several of her books are set in this world. Reading this book, and some of the other theater related books, gives you a sense of her world which is more than 50 years in the past. It's a bit of history with a murder to be solved.
The narrator did his part and was good.
The issues I had were with the technical recording of this book. Also, I would say that no one proof-listened to the book before posting it out on the site.
This is as good as any Ngaio Marsh story, and I would have enjoyed it very much if I hadn't already listened to it as Night at the Vulcan--and by the way, the sound quality is for some reason significantly better in that iteration. The only reason this gets a 1 and not a 4 is to call potential readers' attention to the duplicate material under separate title so that they don't waste cash or credits on something they actually already own, or on something that is more expensive and of poorer quality than the same story under a differnt title on this very website.
The reader is excellent. Well written, but I was amazed at how sentimental (in the Victorian novel sense) this is.
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