A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio MarshA Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
Series: Roderick Alleyn #1
Published by Felony & Mayhem Press on November 16, 2011 (first published 1934)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: eBook
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At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlor game of "Murder." Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin. Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to find a complete collection of alibis, a missing butler, and an intricate puzzle of betrayal and sedition in the search for the key player in this deadly game.

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.

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.


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