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Publisher's Summary

A Christmas pageant turns unholy.

Holed up at Hilary Bill-Tasman's manor estate for Christmas, Troy Alleyn is to paint the man's portrait and, while she's there, view the Druid Christmas pageant. Along with a pack of eccentric guests, Troy enjoys the festivities, until one of the pageant's players mysteriously disappears into the snowy night. Did the hired help, each a paroled murderer from the nearby prison, have a deadly hand in this Christmas conundrum? Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to join his wife in finding the lost man, and unraveling the glaring truth from the glittering tinsel.

©1972 Ngaio Marsh, Ltd. (P)1994 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Dame Ngaio has yet to write a mystery that is less than perfect." (Portland Oregonian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 08-27-12

Classy Classic

I was confused when I went to my library to review this -- mine says Nadia May is the narrator. Well, turns out Wanda McCaddon is Nadia May! So, another mystery solved!

I read Ngaio Marsh's books years ago, so was happy to revisit on Audible. "Tied Up in Tinsel" turns out to be one of the best I have listened to so far! That is largely due to May/McCaddon's wonderful performance of the eccentric characters in this English Manor mystery. I especially love her treatment of Uncle Flea, a funny, lovable, irascible old Colonel in the classic Empire mode.

The story is also in the classic style of English mysteries. A twist is that the manor's servants are all ex-cons with murder in their pasts. Marsh throws in a lot of red herrings, a gorgeous Christmas tree, and a good deal of humor.

This is strictly for fans of the old-fashioned British upper-class mystery. If you're in the mood for that, this one is tops!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Deana
  • Granby, CT, United States
  • 12-23-11

Great Holiday Mystery

Where does Tied Up in Tinsel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I love classic mysteries and I love Ngaio Marsh. This one is great for the holiday season-- very quirky and enjoyable. I always forget, with Marsh, how long she takes to get into the crime. I still love her mysteries, and I love the atmosphere. It's not the greatest mystery of all time, in my mind, But it's festive and well-written as always.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A mystery full of murderers

In Ngaio Marsh's 1972 novel <strong>Tied Up in Tinsel</strong>, Hilary Bill-Tasman has purchased Halberds, his family estate, forcedby his grandfather to be sold. Because staffing such a manor costs a lot of money, Hilary has found a solution to this problem: He has hired five murderers released from prison. After all, they aren't really a risk. Cook killed a man for abusing a cat. Marvin killed a cat burglar with a booby trap that went wrong. Blah lashed out at his wife's lover; it wasn't his fault that he happened to be cooking with a knife right then. Nigel, incited by religious fervor, killed a "sinful lady." And Vincent, a gardener, poisoned his nasty boss with arsenical spray, but the jury in ther appeal agreed that he didn't realize the woman was in the greenhouse. Now they serve as servants to Hilary.

Agatha Troy Alleyn, the greatest painter England has ever seen, is spending Christmas at Hilary's home to paint him, since her husband, Detective Superintendent Roderick Alleyn, is pursuing a case in Australia. Hilary is expecting five more guests for Christmas. There are the eccentric Colonel and Mrs. Forester, otherwise known as his "Uncle Flea" and "Auntie Bed." They will bring their longtime manservant Alf Moult, who strongly hates the presence of the murderers. Fourth, Mr. Smith, Hilary's partner whom he inherited from his father in their antiques business, is coming. And finally is Hilary's fiance, Cressida Tottenham, a shallow, glamorous so-called actress whose job is to express art by taking off her clothes. Soon after all arrive, the visitors become victims of mean practical jokes, each one in the mode of a different murderer servant's crime.

Hilary traditionally holds a special celebration on Christmas Eve in which the Christmas Druid instead of Santa Claus elivers presents to all the families in his community, many of which work at the prison nearby. Uncle Flea takes his position as the Druid very seriously, but when Troy finishes cheering him on, Cressida tells Troy that Uncle Flea experienced heart trouble as he was dressing in the Druid's robe, so Moult substituted for Uncle Flea. But then Moult just disappears. . . .

Thus Roderick Alleyn enters the scene.

<strong>Tied Up in Tinsel</strong> earned Marsh an Edgar Award nomination for Best Mystery Novel in 1973. I find it curious that this book, out of Marsh's ouvre, was selected for this honor, given that she had so many stronger books. Her other nomination came in 1967 for <em>Death at the Dolphin</em>. In addition to these two nominations, both of which lost to less well-known books, Marsh received the Grand Master Award in 1978.

The plot of <strong>Tied Up in Tinsel</strong> is a bit darker than most of Marsh's books. The murderers provide a rather creepy touch at times, along with the darkness caused by the snowstorm. As with many of Marsh's books, Alleyn doesn't make an appearance until later in the book. But what makes this more unique is that it takes even longer before a body appears, since so much of the mystery is a missing person's case.

But what makes this book work is Marsh's gift for drawing characters and the unique people who appear in this book. One of the best characters in all of the Roderick Alleyn books is Alleyn's wife, Agatha Troy, so I appreciate the fact that she appears throughout the whole book. She has such a strong presence that we all fall in love with her. The murderers also have a lot of personality that brings the book to life. Each one has a unique set of features that makes every one so realistic, making the book feel creative.

Wanda McCaddon, who usually narrates her Marsh books under the nom de vox of Nadia May, performs the audio edition of this book effectively and creatively. She uses strong expression in her narration of this book and makes it an enjoyable listening experience.

While <strong>Tied Up in Tinsel</strong> is not one of Marsh's best books, it is still fun because almost any book by Marsh is a delight to read. The characters make the book creative, even more than most of her books, though all have clever depictions of characters. I give the book four stars.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Better than expected

I'd never read Ngaio Marsh so I didn't know what to expect. I like her quirky characters and the setting of this novel. The narration is great. The characters each have a distinct voice and personality. I highly recommend it to fans of Agatha Christy and Dorothy Sayers .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Exceeds expectations!

Any additional comments?

I haven't finished listening to this yet, but am enjoying it so much I wanted to pause and enter a review. The story is unusually rich in humor, setting and cast of characters, and the reading by Wanda McCaddon (new to me) is utterly brilliant! For me, her voice is a veritable paintbrush, defining and distinguishing the diverse assortment of personalities with great imagination and persuasive power. A great holiday read!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • sharon
  • wallingford, PA, United States
  • 07-10-07

Just couldn't get into it

I love mysteries -- especially English ones -- but I just could NOT get into this one. Don't bother.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kimberly
  • Levittown, PA, United States
  • 12-26-11

Didn't Even Get Through 2nd CD

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

Having the murder closer to the beginning of the story instead of having pointless facts about all the characters.

What could Ngaio Marsh have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Have the murder closer to the beginning of the book so your interest gets peaked and you want to learn about all the characters.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger and disappointment that I wasted my time and money on this audibook. I was really looking forward to listening to a Christmas murder mystery.

Any additional comments?

This book was so aweful and boring in the 1st and part of the 2nd CD that I didn't even finish listening to the whole audiobook. I stopped in the middle of the 2nd CD. Don't waste your time or money on this audiobook.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful