Monday, April 15, 2024

Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh #1937Club

🍾 I know I have read Ngaio Marsh years ago in high school, but can't remember which one or how many, so I shall count this as my first introduction to Roderick Alleyn. The Chief Inspector is on holiday, and happens to be travelling on the same train with a theater company on their way to perform in New Zealand. Alleyn soon befriends some the theater members, though only reveals his true identity as Scotland Yard officer to Albert Meyer, owner of the company: Incorporated Playhouses.

🍾 Mysterious things start to happen on board the train: Meyer was nearly murdered after allegedly being pushed off the train. Then one of the female actresses lost her money. But things got really beyond control after their successful first night performance. Meyer wanted to surprise his wife, the famous actress Carolyn Decres, on her birthday, by a theatrical trope of a huge bottle of champagne falling down from the ceiling after she pulling down a rope. Well, she pulled the rope, but the huge bottle hit Meyer on the head instead, and killed him.

🍾 The incident happened, no doubt, because someone who knew about the arrangement - and everyone knew and were involved in it except Carolyn - had tinkered the contraption just before the party started. Who had opportunity and motive? Alleyn cooperates with local policemen to investigate.

🍾 This is a delightful old school Golden Age crime fiction involving a series of interviews, checking on alibis, and the intricately calculated plot. Part of the delight is the 1930s behind-the-stage theatrical life atmosphere which added a unique charm to this story. The company was inspired by the similar theater company Marsh had joined herself, and that's how it felt real.

🍾 I also loved the cultural touch of Māori in this story. One important clue is a tiki - a tiny statue with human images carved into wood, bone, stone, or other material - that Alleyn gifted to Carolyn Decres for her birthday. And a Māori Doctor is a prominent figure in this mystery. Allen's confusion of the local slang used by the police is quite hilarious and reminds us that the crime is happening in New Zealand.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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hosted by Simon @ Stuck in a Book & Karen @ Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings


  1. It's a long time since I read any Marsh, but you make her sound very tempting!

  2. This sounds like very good fun, especially the New Zealand and theatre settings; I've read a few of the Roderick Alleyn books but not this one so far. A great pick for 1937.

  3. I got this from the library but don't think I will get to it this week - it does sound fun, however! During my rereads of Marsh, I realize some are much better than others, although I usually like them all. My favorites have a theatre setting.

  4. This sounds wonderful - I love a theatre setting for a murder mystery (and read another Marsh that does that - Opening Night).

  5. Somehow I didn't find the theatrical company so colorful and interesting as in some other mystery books I've read. I'll give Marsh another chance but I don't think this will ever be a favorite.


What do you think?