• Grave Mistake

  • By: Ngaio Marsh
  • Narrated by: Jane Asher
  • Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (169 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A spa stay turns into a homicidal holiday.... A bit snobbish and a trifle high strung, Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener.

In fact she is rapturous over the new asparagus beds when a visit from her unwelcome stepson sends her scurrying to a chic spa for a rest cure, a liaison with the spa's director...and an apparent suicide.

Her autopsy holds one surprise, a secret drawer a second. And Inspector Roderick Alleyn, CID, digging about Upper Quintern, may unearth still a third...deeply buried motive for murder.

©1978 Original Text of 1978 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"It's time to start comparing Christie to Marsh instead of the other way around." ( New York Magazine)

What listeners say about Grave Mistake

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Wish Audible and author would agree.

Ngaio Marsh said that her CDI's last name is pronounced Alan or Allen. These Audible books sometimes say it as Allen, sometimes as "Al lean" or "Al lane." Or like this one as "Al lain" rhythming with "pain." It's really a pain to listen to, especially if the narrator also uses a high falsetto voice for the CDI.

6 people found this helpful

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Return to greatness

The main plot device has been used by other writers, but this is an interesting twist on it. This is NGs best in a long time. The narrator is generally good, but minus a star for voicing Alleyn too high.

3 people found this helpful

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worst narration of Rodderick Allen ever

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Narration. Narrator was excellent with female voices and ok to pretty good with some of the male voices. The central character of the series was impossible to tolerate.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Grave Mistake?

hard to say because of narration

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jane Asher?

almost anyone. Nadia May, James Saxon, Phillip Franks, Hugh Fasier

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I think there was a good story under the bad narration

Any additional comments?

Please acquire this with a different narrator.

3 people found this helpful

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Story marred by narrator's choices

This is one of my favorite Ngaio Marsh books, but I did not enjoy the narration. The narrator chose to pronounce Alleyn's name so that it almost sounded like Elaine. That was persistently annoying, but I also disagree with the Voice which she chose for Alleyn. It was hard and unsympathetic, and not suiting the attractive man as Marsh portrays him. Inspector Fox's voice was also, I think, inappropriate, occasionally exhibiting elements of Cockney. Neither man came across appealingly, and one of the unattractive characters, Dr. Basil Schramm--Who was born in England--was given a European accent.

3 people found this helpful

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Superb reading of a classic British mystery

Jane Asher is so good a reader for Ngaio Marsh's "Grave Mistake" that I was sad to see all her other readings are children's books. She needs to be given adult work --- her voice characterizations are truly excellent. The Vicar's upper class! The "Brer Fox" voice, perfect for Alleyn's colleague. In fact, this excellent story has a lot to do with voice and vocal differences and that may be why this reader took it on. I wish she would read all the Ngaio Marsh books.

3 people found this helpful

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Good story

Good plot & sympathetic characters. A good read--absorbing. Did get annoyed with the narrator--the foreign men's accents are not particularly convincing.

3 people found this helpful

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a miss

I love all her books everyone!!! but unfortunately Jane just doesn't do a good allyn and it ruins the whole audio book

2 people found this helpful

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MAYBE THE NARRATION SPOILS IT

Having listened to many novels by NM I was ready to like this one but couldn't get a grip on it - I think due to the narration, because each time I tried again, after a minute or so my attention drifted right away and I had to force myself back to it. Somehow the voice cancelled the narrative flow. I guess this is the skill one finds in a good narrator - not just a pleasant voice.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Story.

The story itself is classic Marsh with interesting, well developed characters and an intricate puzzle mystery.

The narrator, however, distracts from the enjoyment of the text in a significant way. First, she pronounces the surname of the series-long detective improperly (the proper pronunciation is widely known having been discussed by the author herself many times). Second, the narrator’s use of accents related to foreign (non-British) characters is abysmal. Two distinct characters of different ethnicities have exactly the same accent. It is literally impossible to distinguish which of these two characters is speaking by listening to the narrator.

I highly recommend other Ngaio Marsh mysteries here on Audible, but would not listen to another audiobook performed by this particular narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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The narrator should at least pronounce the main character’s name correctly

This is just an average Ngaio Marsh. Superintendent Rodrick Alleyn comes across as kind of cranky in this book. He probably didn’t like Jane Asher mispronouncing his name. With that rather jarring exception, she is a good narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T Dinn
  • 01-26-18

Good story

The storyline was ingenious but I would have expected more from the narrator. Her attempt at the accents was very poor and she just sounded too “ladylike”. Other narrators have done much better with the Ngaio Marsh books

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs W.
  • 09-27-16

Brilliant Story

Well narrated, loved the "voices" and we'll developed story! A great escape from reality! Great story telling, characters suit, easy listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jean the Bean
  • 03-17-16

Disappointing narrator

I love other female narrators for Ngaio Marsh's work (Nadia May for example) but Jane Asher's delivery was ponderous and dull and she mispronounces Alleyn throughout. Even if the reader is unaware that it is 'Allen' and not 'Allain', the publisher should be. A bit slapdash and shoddy. A shame, because the story is a corker.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carmen
  • 09-08-22

Good story badly read

Jane Asher not a good reader. Mispronounces Alleyn throughput - this continues to irritate from beginning to end

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  • M. Andersen
  • 07-05-21

Sounds best at a lower speed

I listened at speed 85 and found this very much improved the reading. I loved the various voices although the Chief Inspector was rather more aloof than I'd have preferred. Like in the case of one or two other readers of Marsh's novels, his name was mispronounced which was an unnecessary minor irritation.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-13-20

Well read, intriguing story

I love Jane Asher as a reader, she lends an air of mystery to the reading. I agree that Alleyn's voice is a bit high, she has done this with other male roles, but after a bit you get used to it!

The story has lots of twists and kept me wanted to listen all the way through.

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  • mrsc
  • 09-25-20

Wet,wet and wetter!

This may have been as good a Ngaio Marsh as any other of her mystery books except for the ghastly, amateurish narration. What ever possessed Jane Asher to think she was able to narrate this or any other book. She gabbled, drawled and was unable to read character. It made the whole thing so dreadfully thin. Unable to hold my attention at all and found myself 'zoning out' as the weakness of the delivery was like tepid tap water. Surely she went to drama school. Perhaps she was absent the day they did 'reading from the page'. Pausing and emphasis, slowing and speeding the text to show you actually understand what is written. How have you managed as an actress thus far. I shall be happy to read the book again as I am very disappointed with this version. The other Ngaio Marsh readers do a fantastic job.

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  • Enuff Said
  • 08-17-18

As with many 'Golden Age' detection stories,you must adopt a more credulous state of mind before chapter one.

This doesn't stray from the genres norm in that person/people murdered tend not to be the nicest characters,that coincidence runs rampant & usually 'The Yard' gets it's 'man' on flimsy circumstantial evidence, leading to a dramatic last minute confession.
As interesting/bonkers as the stories may be, there are rich pickings on the social mores from background descriptions,e.g. unsympathetic descriptions of mental health,frequent kicking dogs,the class system,the necessary cigarette in every sentence.
Jane Asher does read it well,maintaining characterisation throughout,however her portrait of the elegant Chief Inspector Alleyn is sadly very stilted. Still for me an enjoyable listen.

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  • Stephanie
  • 09-28-22

Spoiled by an odd voice

Mostly very well read except for Alleyn which was strangely high pitched shouting. Very annoying. Also his name was mispronounced.

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  • Camilla Smith
  • 01-20-18

good plot excellent reader

a cosy country mystery entry into the Alleyn canon and Jane Asher is a brilliant reader