Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh
Narrator: James Saxon
Series: Roderick Alleyn #27
Published by Hachette Audio UK on October 1, 2015 (first published 1970)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Christmas
Length: 7 hrs 20 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Christmastime in an isolated country house and, following a flaming row in the kitchen, there’s murder inside.

When a much disliked visiting servant disappears without trace after playing Santa Claus, foul play is at once suspected - and foul play it proves to be. Only suspicion falls not on the staff but on the guests, all so unimpeachably respectable that the very thought of murder in connection with any of them seems almost heresy.

When Superintendent Roderick Alleyn returns unexpectedly from a trip to Australia, it is to find his beloved wife in the thick of an intriguing mystery....

As is often the case, Marsh spends a lot of time with the set-up and introducing the characters. This time around, we have a country house murder committed at Christmas. We spend the first half or so of the book meeting all the folks who are spending the holidays at the home. The owner of the house, Hillary Bill-Tasman, is having his portrait painted by Agatha Troy a well-known artist who also just so happens to be the wife of Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn. The house is full of eccentric guests, including the fiancée, Cressida, whose character is the only one that really screams 60s/70s to me. If it weren’t for her, it could have been set in the 30s, which might have been a bit more fitting overall. There’s Uncle ‘Flea’ and Aunt ‘Bed’, a gruff old Colonel and his wife who arrive with a devoted manservant. All of the other servants are convicted, but paroled, murderers. On Christmas Eve there is a traditional and extravagant entertainment planned for the village children. Uncle Flea dresses up, not as Father Christmas, but as a Druid to distribute the presents. And, of course, the unplanned part of the entertainment is a murder and Alleyn, happily, has just come home from Australia and decides to join his wife. Naturally, he eventually takes charge of the investigation, aided by Inspector Fox.

Tied Up in Tinsel is kind of like spending the holidays with old friends. I always enjoy Marsh’s books, even more so when Troy puts in an appearance. I think part of the reason is that she does spend so much time introducing the characters. The plot itself here is actually pretty good. Often, we don’t know what Alleyn’s thinking or what clues he finds, but this time around I feel like the reader actually got a sporting chance at solving the mystery. I didn’t guess who dunnit, but I don’t usually try.

Saxon did a good job with the narration over all. He managed to make the characters eccentric and slightly ridiculous without pushing them over in to the roll your eyes, unbelievable area. My one complaint is with his rendering of Cressida. She sounded just a little too manly for me and out of place.\

I’m thrilled with the recent republishing of Marsh’ mysteries as Kindle books and on Audible. It makes it so much easier to get my fix than having to search through used book stores, even if that’s still how I prefer them – old musty paperbacks.

About Ngaio Marsh

Dame Ngaio Marsh (23 April 1895 – 18 February 1982), born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1966.

Internationally Marsh is known primarily for her creation Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective who works for the Metropolitan Police (London). Thus she is one of the “Queens of Crime” alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, and Margery Allingham.