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Publisher's Summary

After an evening of friendly darts and vintage brandy, a distinguished, although amorous, barrister is in no condition to drive - or walk. The poor fellow's expired, leaving one less lawyer in the world. Everyone in the cozy pub swears that the untimely death was caused by a dart that punctured the victim's finger. But to Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the "accident" was really a case of murder.
©1940, 1967 by Ngaio Marsh (P)1996 by Blackstone Audiobooks

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Death at the Bar

The reader was not vary good, add to that there are distracting noises thought out this reading. The story was just OK The ending was weak.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Cyanide: accident or murder?

In Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh, three longtime friends join together to visit their annual vacation spot in Ottocomb in Devon, where they gather at the Plume of Feathers Pub. All three friends are famous in their own right, with Luke Watchman an elite barrister, Sebastian Darrow a famous actor, and Norman Cubit a top painter. The pub is a central gathering point for the community, where locals and gusts gather one stormy night. They discover that Abel Pomeroy, the owner of the pub, owns three valuable bottles of a high quality brandy, so the group breaks open one bottle. One local man, Bob Legge, has a reputation for being a genius with darts and convinces Luke, who has been sniping at Legge in underhanded hints about some knowledge of a potential criminal background, to let him throw darts between each finger spread out against the dartboard. But in his first ever error, he nicks one of Luke's fingers with a dart, which sends Luke into a near-fainting fit, as he can't stand the sight of blood. Just as they try to clean the wound with iodine and give Luke brandy to steady him, the storm kills the power. When it comes back on, Luke Watchman lies dying.

Almost two weeks later, Will Pomeroy travels to London to visit Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn in order to beg him to take on the case of who killed Watchman. The local police have not been able to determine even if the death was murder or accident. Just that same afternoon, Will had been using cyanide to poison rats in the garage, so certain locals have been accusing Pomeroy of being careless with the poison. Though Scotland Yard can't take a case without a request from the local police, Pomeroy's visit serves as a catalyst to get the local police to request Alleyn's assistance, so Alleyn gets to visit Devon.

This book follows a path of investigation that twists and follows intrigue and curious interconnectedness among many characters. But above all, the question keeps arising how the murder could possibly have been administered. This book really shows Inspector Fox to be a great sidekick for Alleyn. It also features some interesting philosophical discussions centered around the Coomb Left Movement, a group devoted to socialist causes. The members of the discussions do seem to have some confusion about the specific philosophies that they support, but that just makes the book more enjoyable.

I love the narration of Nadia May, who makes all her books come to life. She helps to keep the book moving, and I think the book would be less fun just reading it instead of listening to the book.

Death at the Bar is a strong book, with an interesting pun in the title for both the bar where the alcohol is served and the bar of justice where Luke Watchman served. This book has a clever solution and believable characters. I give this book five stars.

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  • Story

Classic Detective Fiction in Gorgeous Setting

Nadia May's appreciation for and rendition of Ngaio Marsh's gemlike prose make listening to this clever, exciting mystery a true delight. Great plot, colorful characters, a splash of passion, a pervading sense of time and place, and a few downright gruesome details = a classic of its type, 20th century British detective fiction set in that most endearing of places, a coastal English village.

  • Overall
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 05-09-11

death by detail

While I usually like narrator Nadia May very much, she's not a good choice for a Ngaio Marsh tale. Try the other version.

Also, had I been in the mood for a detailed, and I mean DETAILED, detective novel, I might have rated this higher-- the writing was good, the mystery quirky, the characters and setting, cozy and well-drawn -- just too much damned detail about the location of chalk markers and brandy residue for my mood.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Difficult Listening

I tried several times to give this audio book another chance, but have found it very difficult to listen to. I finally gave up. Maybe I'll try listening again some day. It was mainly the narrator that I had such a hard time with, and I never really was able to give the story a chance. I can not recommend this audio book, and I would be unlikely to buy anything else narrated by the same person. Very disappointing.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

A good mystery ruined by "over narration"

It is a good classic mystery ruined by the narrator over acting. I almost gave up listening several times but the story kept me going in spite of the annoying narration.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • NJ Harrison
  • 03-08-15

Good story, abysmal sound quality

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

As with all Inspector Alleyn mysteries this is a charmingly written tale full of witty dialogue and engaging characters. The mystery is perhaps not the best of the series but the situations carry it along and it is quite enjoyable.

How could the performance have been better?

It is utterly impossible to imerse yourself in the story telling when the recording keeps making strange twanging noises and the narrator suddenly sounds like they are in a giant tin can! Nadia May does a good job with the material but is sadly let down by the sound quality.

Any additional comments?

If you haven't already try 'Overture to Death' instead.