This classic Ngaio Marsh novel features blood-curdling murders in the confines of a riverboat, the Zodiac, cruising through Constable country.
'He looks upon the murders that he did in fact perform as tiresome and regrettable necessities,' reflected Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn on the international crook known as 'the Jampot'. But it was Alleyn's wife, Troy, who knew 'the Jampot' best: she had shared close quarters with him on the tiny pleasure steamer Zodiac on a cruise along the peaceful rivers of 'Constable country'. And it was she who knew something was badly wrong even before Alleyn was called in to solve the two murders on board....
©1968 Ngaio Marsh Ltd (P)2010 AudioGO Ltd
Ngaio must have been nipping at the cooking sherry when she wrote this one. In addition to the groan-inducing word play and convoluted machinations and motivations by the baddies, the timeline is preposterous to the point where it seems like letters are being written, mailed to the US from the UK, and reacted to all before they were sent. (Even at the time this was written, the post wasn't that good.) Don't let these quibbles prevent you from listening, though. James Saxon provides good fun with the voices, and the whole thing moves along smartly. Troy Alleyn is a central character in this episode, also, which gives Marsh a chance to give us more of Troy as an artist.
It's not the fault of the reader; he does a good job with the material he has to work with. The story itself is improbable and slooooooow to get going. The last two scenes were moderately interesting, but that's it.
This book, framed by a lecture that Alleyn gives at the police academy, is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors! (My other favorites by her are Death and the Dancing Footman and Black as He's Painted.) I loved the interplay between Troy Alleyn as she takes a river cruise on the spur of the moment and gets involved in the case of a master murderer criminal as Roderick Alleyn narrates the happenings from his perspective as both CID and husband. I enjoyed the creative, in-depth character development that is a sign of almost all Ngaio Marsh books.
The plot was highly engaging without making me tense. I listen to my audio books to be distracted from the constant pain I live in with migraines that don't let me read books with my eyes but only with my ears, so I don't want books that create tension in the body that can affect my physical pain. The books by Ngaio Marsh are perfect for that, as they keep my interest and distract me from my pain without keeping me from being able to relax. They are the perfect "cozy mysteries," along with those by Rex Stout and Agatha Christie, among others.
Definitely Troy! When Marsh proposed introducing a love interest to Roderick Alleyn, her publishers were displeased, wanting her to limit her books to mystery alone. But the introduction of Troy was a great coup, and I think virtually all readers see her as a much better foil to Alleyn than Nigel Bathgate ever was, as he came across as unrealistic and annoying!
ah, no. Not a criticism of the audio; I always find the print better.
I really enjoyed that it jumps into the story fairly quickly. Some of Marsh's books take too long on the backstory and character development.
I've enjoyed Saxon's readings before. He's very good with the pacing and characterizations. If I had a criticism here, it would be that his Troy doesn't quite match the one in my head as I've heard her after many years of reading Ngaio Marsh. But that's an individual thing.
Ngaio Marshs' mysteries are solid examples of the genre, with lots of red herrings and the perfect puzzles you expect from British detective fiction. But her characters! And her settings and costumes and dialogue! She uses the language as a cordon bleu chef uses French butter. And James Saxon is scarily skilled at bringing her words to life. Every character has a pitch-perfect voice. His accents convey the class differences and conflicts beautifully. I'm glad that Marsh wrote a whole bunch of these Inspector Alleyn mysteries and James Saxon recorded so many of them. I'm already in mourning for the day when I've listened to them all.
Veterinary Technician, book addict.
Excellent example of the authors' work. The foreshadowing is done very well and the characterization is excellent. A group of disparate characters take a river cruse. Is one of them a murderer? Are some of them part of a criminal conspiracy of some kind? Are they all? Then a passenger disappears.
I am a big fan of Ngaio Marsh in general and the Alleyn stories in particular. This isn't perhaps my favourite in the series but it is still a chance to visit with characters whose company I enjoy.
He is always a pleasure to listen to!
I wouldn't suggest this one as a first time read of Ngaio Marsh's work - as I think that some of her other novels more clearly show her skill - but I am happy to own this one!
conspiresy on holiday
Voices to distinguish characters
Who is the Jam Pot and what is he doing?
The reading shows a difficulty in a mystery with serveral chracters. Hard to separate just based on hearing nrative.
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