Reviews

A Man Lay Dead, by Ngaio Marsh

bowienerd_82's review against another edition

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3.0

The writing was decent and the characters were fairly well developed, but the plot with the Russian brotherhood was just a little bit too outrageous, and the reveal of the murderer didn't end up feeling in any way satisfying. I also didn't end up feeling like I got to know Inspector Alleyn at all, either.

carolsnotebook's review against another edition

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3.0

Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn series is one of my favorites, but I’ve been reading it all out of order. I finally got around to picking up the first in the series. While obviously don’t think this is a series that needs to be read in order, it was nice to read this first introduction to Alleyn.

A Man Lay Dead is a country house mystery and we have seven suspects, the host, his niece and five guests. Actually a couple more than that, because you have to count the servants, especially the missing butler. As always, Marsh is good with giving us clues and red herrings, even if the actual “how” the murderer did it was a bit far-fetched.This time around there’s a side plot involving the dreaded Bolsheviks that really shows the era of the book.

Alleyn’s personality is not quite cemented yet, but this is the first. One of the guests, Nigel Bathgate, a journalist, becomes his assistant. He’s kind of the side-kick and while he’s nice and clearly a good guy, I enjoy Alleyn and Fox as the duo in later books more. I feel like in this one Marsh is still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s still a good smooth read, don’t get me wrong, and I love how much attention she pays to her secondary characters.

emma_s123's review

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.5

bonthewitch's review against another edition

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3.0

Did nooootttt enjoy as I do Christie et al. in terms of vintage murder msyteries. Detective was interestingly unorthodox at times but... meh.

e_r_b's review against another edition

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mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

ssejig's review against another edition

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4.0

Different from the movie but still enjoyable. Roderick Alleyne hunts down a killer during a house party.
Nigel Bathgate has been invited to a country house with his uncle, Charles Rankin, who is sort of a man-about-town. There are several other guests including a girl his uncle wants to marry as well as a previous conquest and her husband. There is also the host, Sir Hubert Hanseley, and his niece as well as Dcotor Foma Tokareff who, like Sir Hanseley, is an expert at old weapons. When Charles Rankin shows up with one such weapon, one that has a rather black history, it surprises everyone but it even more shocking that the knife ends up in his back during a game of "Murder." It's up to Inspector Alleyn to sort out this mess and make sure that the true villain is unmasked.

notthatbuffy's review against another edition

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2.0

OMG bolsheviks. This is clearly a first book 

cantwelljr's review against another edition

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4.0

A very enjoyable classic mystery of the golden age; I'm shocked that I had never heard of Ngaio Marsh before! I will definitely be seeking out her other books. There's a certain implausibility to the method of the murder, and the Russian subplot is theatrical to say the least, but it's forgivable because it's fun. It's also her debut novel and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief in favor of a good time.

**I will point out that the edition I read was printed in 2000 and the editors apparently did not see the need to remove the N word. It only occurs once, but it is completely unnecessary to the point that I can see no argument for its continued inclusion. I mainly bring this up as a warning to librarians who might want to keep it out of the hands of kids.

akhaladzetako's review against another edition

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3.0

3.5 stars. Very Agatha-esque, very fun.

jessica_sim's review against another edition

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3.0

Phew, that was quite an adventure in the last four chapters! I am still a bit reeling from all the excitement. But then, suddenly it was all over, and I sat there, dazed, left with so so many questions.

This is the first book Ngaio Marsh wrote and the first book by her hand that I read. I like that very much! To discover her work and to do so in the proper order. It also means that I am not quite sure yet what to expect from her works. I am an ardent Golden Age detective fan, and as such I found this book to be a pleasant, fast, in-between read. It lifted my spirits and delighted me with properly archaic conversations and all the essential elements: the country house, an exciting collection of equally suspicious guest, a strange detective taking weird liberties to get to the truth and a big dramatic review with everyone present.

Sparsed in between all that fun there is a weird subplot regarding a Russian secret society and very rare knife. Why of why? I think the story would have been sufficient without any of the confusion this brings. Especially the unexplained obsession of the host with the mysterious knife and his suspicious behaviour regarding it (never satisfactorily explained) towards the end. The conversation where he expresses his scientific need for the knife, and all the meaningful glances exchanged there, made my head race to entirely different conclusions and are the cause of my current state of unconvincedness and incomplete satisfaction after finishing the book.

The Russian conspiracy did offer a burst of excitement in London. I loved the nightly adventure, though it did not really have a constructive bearing on the case ...

All in all: enjoyable! I will immediately dive into the next book in the series.