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A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim.But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had alread A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim.But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had already planted his friend Lord Robert Gospell at the scene.But someone else got there first...


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A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim.But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had alread A body in the back of a taxi begins an elegantly constructed mystery, perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels.The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas, dinners, balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim.But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn knew that something was up. He had already planted his friend Lord Robert Gospell at the scene.But someone else got there first...

30 review for Death in a White Tie

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Rating and review to follow tonight. Was good though 😊 And now it is tonight, so.... Right, now for some reason I have fallen out of love with Roderick Alleyn, I was keeping up well with the challenge for the first 6 months then for some reason it has taken me another 4 months to get to number 7, and I don't know why. This was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the characterisations, but, and there is a but, to me it is not Agatha Christie. So despite this being well written, d Rating and review to follow tonight. Was good though 😊 And now it is tonight, so.... Right, now for some reason I have fallen out of love with Roderick Alleyn, I was keeping up well with the challenge for the first 6 months then for some reason it has taken me another 4 months to get to number 7, and I don't know why. This was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the characterisations, but, and there is a but, to me it is not Agatha Christie. So despite this being well written, dramatic, a great detective mystery and having interesting and well developed characters, I know I will struggle to finish this challenge. All of that said, I am enjoying Alleyn (and Fox) and Troy and the time period and the stories. And I'm never stingey (mean), so this has to be 4 stars !!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    4.5★ When I reread Death at the Dolphin I'll be interested to see how this earlier title compares. Death at the Dolphin was my favourite as a young reader, but this title was a first time read for me & this now feels like my favourite Marsh novel. The main reason is it is a good story, well told & Marsh seems to have some understanding of the world of debutantes. I know back in the 60s/70s New Zealand had a debutante system as my four sister-in-laws were debutantes. So possibly Marsh grew up under 4.5★ When I reread Death at the Dolphin I'll be interested to see how this earlier title compares. Death at the Dolphin was my favourite as a young reader, but this title was a first time read for me & this now feels like my favourite Marsh novel. The main reason is it is a good story, well told & Marsh seems to have some understanding of the world of debutantes. I know back in the 60s/70s New Zealand had a debutante system as my four sister-in-laws were debutantes. So possibly Marsh grew up understanding the conventions. Everything is very theatrical, but the best Marsh's generally are! & I think the debutantes' restricted world would have been theatrical in it's intensity. What made this book more enjoyable for me is Alleyn's relationship with both Fox & Troy was far more natural than in the other Alleyn novels. He is not patronising or arch with Fox. & Rory & Troy aren't circling each other like a pair of skittish fauns. There is even *gasp!* a hint of passion. I have knocked half a ★ off because I kept getting two of the male characters muddled & because I guessed the murderer quite early. But glad to find a Marsh that I can wholeheartedly recommend!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas and balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim. But Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn knew that something was up." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raP7U... Sometimes a Golden Age whodunnit is my only weakness. 3* A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1) 2* Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2) 3* The Nursing Home Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #3) WL Death in Ecstasy (Roderick Description: The season had begun. Debutantes and chaperones were planning their luncheons, teas and balls. And the blackmailer was planning his strategies, stalking his next victim. But Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn knew that something was up." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raP7U... Sometimes a Golden Age whodunnit is my only weakness. 3* A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn, #1) 2* Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2) 3* The Nursing Home Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #3) WL Death in Ecstasy (Roderick Alleyn, #4) WL Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn, #5) WL Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6) 3* Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7) 4* Overture to Death (Roderick Alleyn, #8) 3* Death at the Bar (Roderick Alleyn, #9) 4* Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn, #10) WL Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11) WL Colour Scheme (Roderick Alleyn, #12) WL Died in the Wool (Roderick Alleyn, #13) 2* Final Curtain (Roderick Alleyn, #14) WL A Wreath for Rivera (Roderick Alleyn, #15) 3* Night at the Vulcan (Roderick Alleyn, #16) WL Spinsters in Jeopardy (Roderick Alleyn, #17) TR Scales of Justice (Roderick Alleyn, #18) 3* Hand in Glove (Roderick Alleyn, #22) 3* Dead Water (Roderick Alleyn, #23) 3* When in Rome (Roderick Alleyn, #26) 3* A Grave Mistake (Roderick Alleyn, #30) WL Clutch of Constables (Roderick Alleyn, #25)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This seventh book in the Inspector Alleyn series was published in 1938. This is set in the world of debutantes and coming out balls. Alleyn’s own mother, Lady Alleyn, is bringing out his niece, Sarah, and is looking forward to doing the Season. One of the balls that everyone is most looking forward to is that given by Sir Herbert and Lady Evelyn Carrados, for Evelyn’s daughter, Bridget. Meanwhile, Alleyn has asked his old friend, Lord Robert Gospell, who is always invited everywhere, to keep his This seventh book in the Inspector Alleyn series was published in 1938. This is set in the world of debutantes and coming out balls. Alleyn’s own mother, Lady Alleyn, is bringing out his niece, Sarah, and is looking forward to doing the Season. One of the balls that everyone is most looking forward to is that given by Sir Herbert and Lady Evelyn Carrados, for Evelyn’s daughter, Bridget. Meanwhile, Alleyn has asked his old friend, Lord Robert Gospell, who is always invited everywhere, to keep his eye out. There is a blackmailer on the loose, who is able to mix with ease among the glamorous members of those attending those endless, glamorous balls, parties, opera and theatre shows, and Alleyn is keen to uncover their identity. This is an interesting Golden Age mystery for a couple of reasons. First of all, the setting is great fun and Marsh manages her suspects and motives well, among the ballrooms, Harley Street consulting rooms, glittering social occasions, seedy clubs and endless gossip and speculation of her novel. There are those, like the garrulous Lord Robert Gospell, who enjoys the Season and those, such as the young lady, the wonderfully named, Mrs Halcut-Hackett, is bringing out, who oathes every second of it. There are young men in debt, old secrets, and, unusually, a victim that is generally liked. In many Golden Age novels, the victim tends to be someone who is unsympathetic – but, in this novel, this is not the case. That does give a new slant to the story and shows that Marsh was willing to try something new. This is good to read, as I have felt much of this series follows a rather formulaic structure of crime, followed by questioning of the suspects. That still happened, but the victim – and many of the suspects – are linked to Alleyn, socially, if not always as a friend, so that gave a different dimension to the plot. Overall, a good addition to the series and probably my favourite so far.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I have read quite a number of these Roderick Alleyn books in my 2019 reading year. This was another pristine paperback from Felony & Mayhem of a book that had originally been published in 1938. Taking into account the manners of that period this stands up as a challenging investigation for Alleyn and Fox as the murder victim was a dear friend of Alleyn's, but also the blackmail and treachery perpetrated within elite social circles was a prickly problem to unsnarl. There are some rather dramatic s I have read quite a number of these Roderick Alleyn books in my 2019 reading year. This was another pristine paperback from Felony & Mayhem of a book that had originally been published in 1938. Taking into account the manners of that period this stands up as a challenging investigation for Alleyn and Fox as the murder victim was a dear friend of Alleyn's, but also the blackmail and treachery perpetrated within elite social circles was a prickly problem to unsnarl. There are some rather dramatic statements throughout that were not found in the later books of this series, but perhaps the war helped tone things down that were merely domestic and not world shattering. "I shan't attempt the impertinence of condoling phrases of consolation. But I tell you this, Mildred, if it takes me the rest of my life, and if it costs me my job, by God! if I have to do the killing myself, I'll get this murderer and see him suffer for it." But then it is sometimes tempered with exchanges between Alleyn and Fox. "'How do you reckon he brought it off? With what?' 'Back to the jurists' maxim,' said Alleyn with a slight smile; 'Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxilius, cur, quomodo, quando?' 'I never can remember it that way,' said Fox, 'knowing no Latin. But I've got old Gross's rhyme all right: 'What was the crime, who did it, when was it done and where? How done, and with what motive, who in the deed did share?'" And on they work to puzzle out all those involved in the crimes and misdeeds. The book starts out with Lady Alleyn trying to get her son to participate in the season since she has the responsibility of bringing out young Sarah when she announces " I am coming out." "'Out?' repeated Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn vaguely. 'Out where, mama? Out of what?'" As this humorous dialogue continues, he demands: "Why has Sarah got to come out? Why can't she simply emerge?" And then there is the progression of Alleyn's love for Troy where he seems to hit a home run. Library Loan

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    Death in a White Tie is a reread for me. I discovered Ngaio Marsh back at my hometown Carnegie Library (more moons ago than we need to count) and I promptly read through all the Marsh books they had. Later, about twenty years ago, I read some of them again and Death in a White Tie was one simply because it's one of my favorites. There are so many things I enjoy about this tale of murder and blackmail amongst the London Society at the height of the Season--from the witty dialogue, to the scenes a Death in a White Tie is a reread for me. I discovered Ngaio Marsh back at my hometown Carnegie Library (more moons ago than we need to count) and I promptly read through all the Marsh books they had. Later, about twenty years ago, I read some of them again and Death in a White Tie was one simply because it's one of my favorites. There are so many things I enjoy about this tale of murder and blackmail amongst the London Society at the height of the Season--from the witty dialogue, to the scenes at the various society dos (debutante balls and teas and Agatha Troy's one-man art show), to the understate romance between Alleyn and Troy, to his affection for his mother, to the undercurrents of gossip in the chaperone circle at the dance. It's all so veddy, veddy British and elegant and well-done. And Marsh presents us with one of the most sympathetic victims--who doesn't want Bunchy's killer found and punished to the full extent of the law? The story begins with Inspector Roderick Alleyn asking Lord Robert "Bunchy" Gospell to assist him in tracking down a despicable blackmailer who is at work among the cream of London society. Bunchy moves through society like everyone's favorite uncle. He can talk to anyone and go anywhere and no one would suspect that behind his twinkle and rather high, almost silly voice lies a very sharp brain that has helped the officials with other difficult problems in the past. His first assignment--to attend a performance of Bach at one of the new concert-rooms and attempt to find out who collects the blackmail money which the latest victim has been instructed to leave in her purse stuffed into a blue sofa. As Alleyn tells him: Bunchy, let nothing wean you from the blue sofa. Talk to Mrs. Halcut-Hackett. Share the blue sofa with her and when the austere delights of Bach knock at your heart pay no attention... Lord Robert does his job well and becomes convinced he knows the blackmailer's identity even though the lights were dimmed when the bag was collected. But he wants to be sure of his facts and confirmation comes at the next society function, a ball held by Lady Carrados for her daughter's coming-out. He calls up Alleyn before he leaves (to be sure the Inspector will still be at the Yard) and, unfortunately, someone walks in on his conversation. Two hours later, a taxi rushes up to the Yard with the driver announcing that his fare's been murdered. He's right...and the murdered man is Lord Robert Gospell. Alleyn is dismayed and clearly shaken, not because he's lost a vital witness but because he's lost a very dear friend. He also feels directly responsible since Lord Robert was involved purely at his behest and he gives us a bit of the avenging hero speech when he speaks to Bunchy's sister. I tell you this, Mildred, if it takes me the rest of my life, and if it costs me my job, by God! if I have to do the killing myself, I'll get the murderer and see him suffer for it. He quickly realizes the melodrama of his words and says, "Good Lord, what a speech! Bunchy would have laughed at it." But, with the aid of Detective-Inspector Fox, he sifts through the movements of each suspect and makes good on his vow--bringing the crime home to murderer in less than two days. This is, I believe, one of Marsh's best novels. It doesn't matter that I've read it before and know who the culprit is. I enjoy every minute that I spend in the company of the dashing gentleman policeman, Roderick Alleyn. ★★★★ for a lovely vintage read. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting. Thanks.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    Another great whodunnit. Alleyn and Fox investigate the murder of a friend of Alleyn. The scene is the debutante season in London. Two women are being blackmailed, but who is the blackmailer. Troy also in the story and Alleyn is after her love although she is playing hard to get. Lord Robert Gospell is a wonderful character in fact all the characterisations are excellent. Dimitri the oily caterer, the smooth Doctor Davidson, Donald tricked by the unscrupulous cad Withers, the husbands of the two Another great whodunnit. Alleyn and Fox investigate the murder of a friend of Alleyn. The scene is the debutante season in London. Two women are being blackmailed, but who is the blackmailer. Troy also in the story and Alleyn is after her love although she is playing hard to get. Lord Robert Gospell is a wonderful character in fact all the characterisations are excellent. Dimitri the oily caterer, the smooth Doctor Davidson, Donald tricked by the unscrupulous cad Withers, the husbands of the two women being blackmailed one being pompous and the other befuddled. Butlers, valets, cab driver and other minor characters all well described and depicted. Very atmospheric with the night of the murder of course being foggy. I really enjoyed this mystery and would like to see a tv or film adaptation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Death in a White Tie was a very pleasant surprise for me. I've read three other Marsh mysteries, and found them dull and blandly written. I had this on my shelf, and thought I'd start it, give it my usual 50 pages, then get rid of it. I was hooked, however, because of how vividly the fictional world is imagined. The victim is a truly interesting, sympathetic character, and I experienced real outrage and puzzlement at his demise. I felt I had a vested interest in accompanying the detective, Roder Death in a White Tie was a very pleasant surprise for me. I've read three other Marsh mysteries, and found them dull and blandly written. I had this on my shelf, and thought I'd start it, give it my usual 50 pages, then get rid of it. I was hooked, however, because of how vividly the fictional world is imagined. The victim is a truly interesting, sympathetic character, and I experienced real outrage and puzzlement at his demise. I felt I had a vested interest in accompanying the detective, Roderick Alleyn, as he tracks down the killer. The novel features a handful of despicable characters besides the murderer, and Marsh is expert in concocting scenes in which they get their comeuppance. Detective fans are infamous for not wanting an excessive love interest. The reason is that these romantic subplots are often not integrated very well with the rest of the plot. This, unfortunately, is the case here. The romance, though appealing, is like a lump of foreign material in the proceedings which takes undue focus. For a successful integration of a romance with detection, see E.C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Competent audiobook narrator, but a rather strange, tinny quality to the recording quality itself. You can spot the murderer in this one if you spot the lie, but it's only by knowing the lie that I ever spot it. I get very annoyed at nephew Donald whenever I read this. Everyone describes him as a nice young chap, but he consistently behaves as such an ass that I don't think he's got much soundness in him at all. Competent audiobook narrator, but a rather strange, tinny quality to the recording quality itself. You can spot the murderer in this one if you spot the lie, but it's only by knowing the lie that I ever spot it. I get very annoyed at nephew Donald whenever I read this. Everyone describes him as a nice young chap, but he consistently behaves as such an ass that I don't think he's got much soundness in him at all.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan Myatt

    Loved it! A proper classic mystery, set around "the season" Debutantes, Blackmail, Parties, Murder and an array of interesting characters make for what I think is my favourite Ngaio Marsh book yet! Inspector Alleyn is top of my list AGAIN! Loved it! A proper classic mystery, set around "the season" Debutantes, Blackmail, Parties, Murder and an array of interesting characters make for what I think is my favourite Ngaio Marsh book yet! Inspector Alleyn is top of my list AGAIN!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    I've read several of Ngaio Marsh's early books, and while I have liked them I haven't loved them; I have always felt that there was a better book lurking underneath, and this is it. I feel with this one she has got into her stride. Debutantes and their chaperones are heading to London for the season, but there is a blackmailer at work in their midst. Alleyn asks one of his friends to keep an eye out and see if he can find the culprit, but unfortunately, he ends up dead in a taxi and it's Alleyn's I've read several of Ngaio Marsh's early books, and while I have liked them I haven't loved them; I have always felt that there was a better book lurking underneath, and this is it. I feel with this one she has got into her stride. Debutantes and their chaperones are heading to London for the season, but there is a blackmailer at work in their midst. Alleyn asks one of his friends to keep an eye out and see if he can find the culprit, but unfortunately, he ends up dead in a taxi and it's Alleyn's job to find out who is responsible and what it has to do with the blackmail.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Sept. 2019 reread via my dad's Kindle: I realized soon upon reading this that I had indeed read it before & so I was quick to notice all the clues that pointed to the correct murderer. What I hadn't remembered was that the personal business between Alleyn and Troy that happens in this book - I do like Troy! Sept. 2019 reread via my dad's Kindle: I realized soon upon reading this that I had indeed read it before & so I was quick to notice all the clues that pointed to the correct murderer. What I hadn't remembered was that the personal business between Alleyn and Troy that happens in this book - I do like Troy!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    Christie, Sayers and Marsh had much in common. They wrote for people of their own class (upper middle) and drew on the tropes of the times: the house parties, huntin' shootin' and fishin', esoteric academia and/or clinical knowledge, and of course the "best people" doing the worst possible things. Alleyn to the rescue--and after all, he is PLU, as Nancy Mitford would say! This is a new one on me, the coming-out ball mystery. Here there's no presentation at court, just the marriage market where Yo Christie, Sayers and Marsh had much in common. They wrote for people of their own class (upper middle) and drew on the tropes of the times: the house parties, huntin' shootin' and fishin', esoteric academia and/or clinical knowledge, and of course the "best people" doing the worst possible things. Alleyn to the rescue--and after all, he is PLU, as Nancy Mitford would say! This is a new one on me, the coming-out ball mystery. Here there's no presentation at court, just the marriage market where Young (rich) England meets and greets and eats and drinks in hopes of floating that final, financially-suitable deal that will lead to the three P's: position, prestige and progeny. Tropes abound: the gentleman physician (chirurgeon in the old days), the lawyers above suspicion, the diplomatic corps (with a passing nod to spyland), and ex-military gents in plenty. It's all so right--and yet under the surface, so much is so very, very wrong. Blackmail, murder, classism and what my friend Elisabeth calls "cheerful racism" abound in this tale. I listened on audiobook, and while the reader leaned too heavily on falsetto, whether needed or not (and it usually wasn't) and what he fondly imagines to be an American accent (which it isn't, but it fit for what Brits of the times thought an American accent was), I did enjoy the experience, in spite of the fact that I taped the guilty party in the first few chapters. I think Marsh threw in a few twists in the final scene because she realised how obvious it was, as said twists seem carted-in. I could have done without the Ro-Mance aspect between Alleyn and Troy; it wasn't very well handled and was too obviously a copy of Sayers' Wimsey/Vane anticourtship. Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery; I hope our Dorothy was flattered. Personally I was a bit annoyed. Marsh continues to be obsessed with people's hands, attributing strange emotional states such as "exhausted" hands, or saying that one character (who just happens to be a "dago", though not Italian) has "odd" hands--which seems to be Alleyn and Co's prime reason for considering him a serious suspect!! Alleyn holds his upper lip properly stiff at his friend's funeral, until the sight of the old gent's "innocent" hands causes him to weep! Troy repeatedly says she wants to paint someone's hands, but in one case is afraid they would be too revealing of the person's character--another copy from Sayers, this time Murder Must Advertise. Marsh also continuously refers to situations and scenes in theatrical terms--not surprising, given her background, but tiresome in the end. A pleasant enough read/listen, particularly as I know that the "coming out" ball/party circuit (ie the Marriage Stakes) is still going strong among the European nobility. They don't call it that, but there it is.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alisha

    Not quite sure what I think about Ngaio Marsh. This was my first of her books. Especially since listening to the Shedunnit podcast, I've become aware that there are a few gaps in my knowledge of Golden Age mystery writers, and Ngaio Marsh was one of them. So I thought I'd just pick one that sounded interesting and give it a try. And it was good, in a way! The solution was simple but easy to miss. What I was a little flummoxed by was the fact that we spend so much time with the murder victim before Not quite sure what I think about Ngaio Marsh. This was my first of her books. Especially since listening to the Shedunnit podcast, I've become aware that there are a few gaps in my knowledge of Golden Age mystery writers, and Ngaio Marsh was one of them. So I thought I'd just pick one that sounded interesting and give it a try. And it was good, in a way! The solution was simple but easy to miss. What I was a little flummoxed by was the fact that we spend so much time with the murder victim before he is killed. And I liked him! It changed the dynamic of the story from a mere puzzle to a tragedy, and that makes for heavier reading and a sadness that I don't usually equate with traditional mysteries. Surely that's a no-no on the list of Golden Age rules? I also wasn't sure what Marsh was trying to accomplish in her barely-there side plot about the woman Inspector Alleyn loves. I think, if a writer is going to commit a character to a relationship that's supposed to carry some emotional heft, it probably deserves a fair amount of page time, as in the case of Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter. Otherwise, what's the point? The detective could just as well remain unattached and in his own little world, as Agatha Christie's Poirot does. The mystery made for good reading, so I would try another Ngaio Marsh book sometime. Because the jury's still out on what I think of her style.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Dashiell Hammett called this book 'The best detective story I have ever read.' I wouldn't quite go that far but it is a very good read. Blackmail is the original crime and Lord Robert Gospell, under direction from Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn, is starting to investigate when he is suddenly murdered. Alleyn takes over and with plenty of red herrings along the way he eventually unravels the whole affair. Dashiell Hammett called this book 'The best detective story I have ever read.' I wouldn't quite go that far but it is a very good read. Blackmail is the original crime and Lord Robert Gospell, under direction from Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn, is starting to investigate when he is suddenly murdered. Alleyn takes over and with plenty of red herrings along the way he eventually unravels the whole affair.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    I listened to Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of this book, so I don't know if it counts as my reading. My full intention was to enjoy BC's voice, but I end up very absorbed in the story. Traditional (Agatha, Troy) style mystery, upper-class setting, sympathetic characters and amusing tone. Engaging but not heavy. I listened to Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of this book, so I don't know if it counts as my reading. My full intention was to enjoy BC's voice, but I end up very absorbed in the story. Traditional (Agatha, Troy) style mystery, upper-class setting, sympathetic characters and amusing tone. Engaging but not heavy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Seventh in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn vintage mystery series revolving around Alleyn's life. This one takes place in London, and it's early 1938. My Take Ooh, clothes shopping! Woohoo! Then comes the sad news that made me cry. Well, I did enjoy Death in a White Tie thoroughly, but the sadness continued throughout. Such a waste. Bunchy sounds like an absolute love. Enjoying himself everywhere he goes and helping out everywhere. Quite the opposite of the selfish Sir Herbert. What a jerk he was!! O Seventh in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn vintage mystery series revolving around Alleyn's life. This one takes place in London, and it's early 1938. My Take Ooh, clothes shopping! Woohoo! Then comes the sad news that made me cry. Well, I did enjoy Death in a White Tie thoroughly, but the sadness continued throughout. Such a waste. Bunchy sounds like an absolute love. Enjoying himself everywhere he goes and helping out everywhere. Quite the opposite of the selfish Sir Herbert. What a jerk he was!! Oh, lol, seems Sir Herbert's nerves were shot from the war . . . which he spent in Tunbridge Wells *more laughter*. It's a combination of blackmail, unhappy debutantes, and running into debt. In particular, Lord Robert is most unhappy with Donald. Seems Donald can't survive on £4 a week. Times like these, I wish I could go back in time with my current income, lol. Seems this spoiled boy wants to have his cake and eat it too. Who'd've thunk noticing the decorations around a house could be a clue? Nor, it seems, does it pay to ignore the past. Poor Troy has her confession about love and relationships. We also learn what she has against Roderick. Poor sap. Per usual, it's a lot of talk, as Alleyn interviews everyone from the ball and discusses his observations. He's not alone however, as Marsh uses third person global subjective point-of-view from a number of perspectives, so we learn quite a bit from a number of characters. I did crack up at Fox's upset over Carewe's labors, lol. The Story With Lady Carrados bringing out her daughter and Lady Alleyn, an old friend of hers, bringing out her granddaughter, the two friends are determined to bring the girls out together. It seems the Season will be so much more exciting when they learn that there's a blackmailer about. The Characters Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn is county, dahling. He was in the army, went the diplomat route, and is now a copper. Vassily is his servant ( A Man Lay Dead , 1). And yes, he has Troy's painting from Suva (Artists in Crime, 6). His mother, Lady Alleyn, has quite a few hobbies and has decided to sponsor Sarah for the Season. George is the older son and a baronet. He's married to Grace, and Sarah is their daughter who is coming out. George Alleyn had been their father and had been in Halcut-Hackett's regiment. The shy Agatha Troy is an artist with a show at the Wiltshire Galleries. Scotland Yard Alleyn's team includes Detective Inspector Fox, Detective-Sergeant Thompson, and Dr Curtis, who is the divisional surgeon. Detective-Constable James D'Arcy Carewe is a new chap who takes going undercover a bit far. Police-Constable Titheridge reported. The Assistant Commissioner (AC) weighs in. Harrington-Barr is a lawyer. Evelyn O'Brien Carrados née Curtis, a.k.a. Lady Carrados and "Donna". Her first husband was Captain Paddy O'Brien. She's currently married to the vain and pompous Sir Herbert "Bart" Carrados. Bridget is Evelyn's daughter with Paddy. The focused and touchy Miss Violet Harris, the third daughter from a large family of a Buckinghamshire clergyman, is Evelyn's new secretary. Sophie is Lady Carrados' maid. General Arthur Marsdon is Evelyn's uncle and is loaning out his house. Anthony Banks had been Paddy's dearest friend in Australia. Lord Robert "Bunchy" Gospell loves parties and society and is asked everywhere. He also enjoys helping the police. Mildred, Lady Potter, is his sister; Donald Potter is her spoiled son and Bunchy's nephew, who is interested in pursuing a medical degree — on his terms. He's dating Bridget and Carrados disapproves. Archery seems to be a house of Donald's near Edinburgh. The sixteen-year-old Broomfield is Bunchy's oldest nephew?? I'm assuming it's via a Gospell brother. The kind but not very bright General Halcut-Hackett and his mean, common wife, a much younger American actress, are bringing out Rose Birnbaum, a.k.a. Poppet, a very plain and unhappy girl. Poppet wants to be an art student; her grandfather had been Joseph Birnbaum, a known painter. The eighty-year-old Lucy, Lady Lorrimer, the Dowager Marchioness of Lorrimer, is deaf, eccentric, rich, and speaks very loudly. Sir Daniel Davidson is Evelyn's doctor on Harley Street. The Comstocks threw a bridge party for charity. The Gainscotts. Kremorn shot himself. The Debs' Delight is a reference to those gentlemen whom the ladies like. Percy Percival and Trelawney-Caper are friends. Lady Jennifer Trueman was at the ball. There is/was a hospital at Falconbridge in Buckinghamshire where Dr Bletherly attended Paddy. Miss Harris' uncle Walter Harris was the rector here; Edith is his wife. Canon Worsley of All Saints, Chipton, is a friend of Walter's. Young Hockley is in trouble. Captain Maurice Withers, a.k.a. Wits, is accepted but not universally liked, especially by Bunchy. He's running a not-so-secret gambling club in Leatherhead. Columbo Dimitri owns the very popular catering company, Shepherd Market. François Dupont is Dimitri's confidential servant. Hughie Bronx's Band plays at Lady Carrados' ball. Smithy is Miss Harris' flatmate. The Matador is a club where Cuthbert is the manager. Simmons is a cloakroom attendant. The Peeping Tom of Peckham has a surprising identity. Thomas is a medical school in London. The Cover and Title The cover is a range of toasty browns, starting with the gradient in the upper half of the cover with a reverse gradient of cream to pale brown in the title. The ubiquitous banner that seems to be blowing in the wind is the creamy brown with the author's name centered in it in its mash-up of dark brown to cream with the linear textures in the Art Deco font. On the sides, primarily in the lower half, are the one-sided scalloped lines of white that radiate from the bottom out to the sides, framing their own gradients of deep brown to toasty. The graphic centered in the charcoal gray background below the banner is a wooden hourglass with the sand running out. Crossing the bottom of the hourglass is an arched milk coffee banner with the series info in white. The title is sadly true, for he was done to Death in a White Tie.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lady Wesley

    Review of the audiobook narrated by James Saxon What a wonderfully entertaining mystery! Of course, I could not identify the culprit until Alleyn explained it, but every jot and tittle of evidence fit in perfectly. Honestly, I don't know how mystery writers do it. The only downside here is that the victim (Lord Robert, known as "Bunchie") is a friend of Alleyn's and a most entertaining character. Most of the suspects are Alleyn's friends as well, and given that they all are members of the upper c Review of the audiobook narrated by James Saxon What a wonderfully entertaining mystery! Of course, I could not identify the culprit until Alleyn explained it, but every jot and tittle of evidence fit in perfectly. Honestly, I don't know how mystery writers do it. The only downside here is that the victim (Lord Robert, known as "Bunchie") is a friend of Alleyn's and a most entertaining character. Most of the suspects are Alleyn's friends as well, and given that they all are members of the upper crust they do not take kindly to his poking around in their business. I have put this book on my Mystery with a Touch of Romance shelf because it is here that the relationship between Alleyn and Agatha Troy progresses in a most satisfying manner. This book, however, is 98% mystery. I am enjoying my Ngaio Marsh audiobook glom. All of them are on Audible, and several are duplicated with different narrators. James Saxon is the best, but the Nadia May narrations are included in the Audible Plus catalog, so I'm mostly listening to her. I also have picked up a couple for US$2.99 at Chirpbooks. I suspect that I enjoy historical mysteries for the same reason I like historical romance: I go to a different time and place and there is always a happy ending.

  19. 4 out of 5

    FangirlNation

    As we continue our survey of the books of Ngaio Marsh, we get to what is perhaps my favorite book, 1938’s Death in a White Tie. Someone has been actively blackmailing socialites amid those “doing the season,” when debutantes go to balls to look for a husband. Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn seeks out the help of Lord Robert “Bunchy” Gospell, who has helped Scotland Yard in the past, to help him find the culprit. Bunchy, around the age of 50, is popular with everyone of all ages who go As we continue our survey of the books of Ngaio Marsh, we get to what is perhaps my favorite book, 1938’s Death in a White Tie. Someone has been actively blackmailing socialites amid those “doing the season,” when debutantes go to balls to look for a husband. Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn seeks out the help of Lord Robert “Bunchy” Gospell, who has helped Scotland Yard in the past, to help him find the culprit. Bunchy, around the age of 50, is popular with everyone of all ages who go to events in the season, making him ideal to help with the investigation. Alleyn first learned of the blackmail when Mrs. Halcott-Hacket, a former actress married to a retired general more than 20 years older than herself, went to Alleyn with a letter “her friend” received demanding £500 to get back a love letter from a man not her husband. As he describes the situation to Bunchy, Bunchy recognizes the handwriting in the letter as one he saw when he was visiting Evelyn Caradoss earlier that day and which caused her panic when her husband found it. They now have a new lead in the case. Read the rest of this review and other fun, geeky articles at Fangirl Nation

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    Death in a White Tie is my absolute favorite Ngaio Marsh novel. I have read it many times and watched the BBC episode starring Patrick Malahide several times as well. This is the second time I have listened to Benedict Cumberbatch read in the audio novel version. I have posted a more thorough review (when I read this in 2014) which may be found HERE. This time I will merely repeat what I said then: This is, I believe, one of Marsh's best novels. It doesn't matter that I've read it before and know Death in a White Tie is my absolute favorite Ngaio Marsh novel. I have read it many times and watched the BBC episode starring Patrick Malahide several times as well. This is the second time I have listened to Benedict Cumberbatch read in the audio novel version. I have posted a more thorough review (when I read this in 2014) which may be found HERE. This time I will merely repeat what I said then: This is, I believe, one of Marsh's best novels. It doesn't matter that I've read it before and know who the culprit is. I enjoy every minute that I spend in the company of the dashing gentleman policeman, Roderick Alleyn. And add--that Benedict Cumberbatch does a marvelous job giving voice to all the characters. It is great fun to hear him speak in the high fluting tones of Lord Robert Gospell.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I think this is the first Alleyn mystery where I genuinely felt for the victim, which helped greatly in my enjoyment of the story. It's the first one where you spend part of the book following the victim closely, too, and where Alleyn has personal feelings on the matter, both of which I think are relevant. I know that the trope of the personally involved detective can be exasperating -- and Alleyn even refers to it, in one of those unsubtle bits of meta -- but at least it's another way for the r I think this is the first Alleyn mystery where I genuinely felt for the victim, which helped greatly in my enjoyment of the story. It's the first one where you spend part of the book following the victim closely, too, and where Alleyn has personal feelings on the matter, both of which I think are relevant. I know that the trope of the personally involved detective can be exasperating -- and Alleyn even refers to it, in one of those unsubtle bits of meta -- but at least it's another way for the reader to engage with the case. The actual puzzle aspect of the story is more or less as usual: a character you wouldn't normally suspect ends up in it up to the neck, where the guy who looks like a sure thing is actually innocent. Still, the reasoning does make sense, all the timings match up, etc, so it makes perfect sense, which Ngaio Marsh is admittedly good at (apart from the weird mix of opportunism and premeditation in the crime in the first Alleyn book). As for Alleyn's personal life, well. I still can't help but feel he's a cut rate Wimsey. His relationship with Troy has some similar ups and downs to Wimsey's with Harriet, but we don't get to see as much interaction, as much of the push-and-pull they feel, and so it feels less compelling. I know I'm biased as a major fan of Sayers already, but I can't help the feeling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    2022 Review This continues to be one of my favourites in this series. I do think I may have liked Artists in Crime better upon this readthrough (I'm basically rereading the Troy and Alleyn books). Still, a fun reread. 2019 Reread Pretty much ditto to my 2018 review. Except to add that their private tea in Alleyn's flat (and his butler's reaction to it) is pretty great. This is also one of the ones where the secondary characters are particularly well done. All of them, really. 2018 Reread This one is 2022 Review This continues to be one of my favourites in this series. I do think I may have liked Artists in Crime better upon this readthrough (I'm basically rereading the Troy and Alleyn books). Still, a fun reread. 2019 Reread Pretty much ditto to my 2018 review. Except to add that their private tea in Alleyn's flat (and his butler's reaction to it) is pretty great. This is also one of the ones where the secondary characters are particularly well done. All of them, really. 2018 Reread This one is one of the ones that does the Troy/Alleyn relationship the best. Maybe because they actually get to interact in it (a novel concept). Alleyn's mother is a delight. Also, I think this is the one where I'm saddest about the victim, because he was also really great. 2016 Readthrough Liked this one. The Troy/Alleyn relationship was better done, although, as declarations go, 'twas not the best. Also, her specific objection to the relationship was somewhat out of the blue. But the mystery was well done, and Fox was excellent. I continue to enjoy Alleyn's mother. And I liked most of the Troy/Alleyn stuff. There's just a few odd remarks/phrases scattered throughout all of their scenes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Charming Golden Age mystery set against a backdrop of débutantes 'coming out' in London society. As the young women make their rounds of balls, lunch parties and dinners, a blackmailer is at work among their chaperones. Inspector Alleyn asks his friend, kindly socialite Lord Robert Gospell, to observe events and identify any clues to the identity of the blackmailer. But before Lord Robert can make his report, a murderer strikes. This is by far the best in the series to date. Marsh has developed a Charming Golden Age mystery set against a backdrop of débutantes 'coming out' in London society. As the young women make their rounds of balls, lunch parties and dinners, a blackmailer is at work among their chaperones. Inspector Alleyn asks his friend, kindly socialite Lord Robert Gospell, to observe events and identify any clues to the identity of the blackmailer. But before Lord Robert can make his report, a murderer strikes. This is by far the best in the series to date. Marsh has developed an assured command of her characters, setting and plot. The social scene of the time is brilliantly evoked, and Alleyn moves smoothly through this milieu, helped by his delightful sidekick, Fox. Many of the characters are Alleyn's aristocratic friends and relations, and he handles them convincingly and with skill. The characters are varied and include old and young, good and not so good, although a few stereotypes do crop up as in earlier novels (weak but decent young man being one example). There are some interesting sub plots, clever twists and even moments of humour. We also meet Alleyn's love interest Agatha Troy again, but her presence and their tentative romance is kept low key and enhances the plot rather than detracting from it. Overall a very pleasant and satisfying read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When someone in the 1930's said they were "coming out" (as they do on the first page of the book), it was a very different type of "out" than we might think of today. In the 30's, of course, in Britain, it was young women coming out into society, and how grueling it must have been. Alleyn knows several of the people who become suspects, and one of his good friends meets an untimely death, causing real anguish to Alleyn. And again as the series moves forward, Alleyn becomes more human and persona When someone in the 1930's said they were "coming out" (as they do on the first page of the book), it was a very different type of "out" than we might think of today. In the 30's, of course, in Britain, it was young women coming out into society, and how grueling it must have been. Alleyn knows several of the people who become suspects, and one of his good friends meets an untimely death, causing real anguish to Alleyn. And again as the series moves forward, Alleyn becomes more human and personal and finally "gets his girl."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Meador

    One of the reasons I love to read Ngaio Marsh is sentences like this: "Mrs. Halcut-Hackett, dressed as if she was going to a Continental restaurant and looking like a beauty-specialists mistake, came into the office." The murder victim in this story was just to kind of a person to die & wanting to know who had done it kept reading until I finished the book. Recommend it. One of the reasons I love to read Ngaio Marsh is sentences like this: "Mrs. Halcut-Hackett, dressed as if she was going to a Continental restaurant and looking like a beauty-specialists mistake, came into the office." The murder victim in this story was just to kind of a person to die & wanting to know who had done it kept reading until I finished the book. Recommend it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    I never used to read mysteries. Several years ago, my (now-retired) librarian friend pointed out mysteries-as-literature to me, and I started right in. Switching between some contemporary mystery authors and some from the "golden age' of mystery-writing, I find that I do have a few favorite authors, and Ngaio Marsh is one of them. Who could have possibly wanted to harm Lord Robert Gospell? Introduced to the reader as a mild, well-liked, kind gentleman, he is also much more 'with it' than many rea I never used to read mysteries. Several years ago, my (now-retired) librarian friend pointed out mysteries-as-literature to me, and I started right in. Switching between some contemporary mystery authors and some from the "golden age' of mystery-writing, I find that I do have a few favorite authors, and Ngaio Marsh is one of them. Who could have possibly wanted to harm Lord Robert Gospell? Introduced to the reader as a mild, well-liked, kind gentleman, he is also much more 'with it' than many realize. In fact, so 'with it' that Inspector Roderick Alleyn (an old friend), seeks his help when presented with a puzzling blackmail case. And so 'Bunchy' (Lord Robert) agrees to go undercover to be Inspector Alleyn's third eye. Unfortunately, Bunchy, although able to pinpoint the culprit, is murdered in a taxi just before he is able to pass on his information to Alleyn. And so the mystery begins to unfold among the most unlikely of settings; the London debutante season. "Death in a White Tie" is, I think, my favorite of all of Marsh's mystery novels. Ngaio Marsh has several plot lines in this not-too-lengthy story and she handles each of them well. We grieve with Roddy (and understand his feelings of guilt) when he discovers his friend in the taxi. We watch him agonize over his feelings for the famous painter, Agatha Troy. "The skies have opened and the stars have fallen. I feel as if I’d run round the world in the last hour. And now you must leave me." And we suffer along with the young debutantes, resenting all the pretense of a flawed, ostentatious tradition. "She's extremely common, but that doesn't matter. Lots of common people are charming. Like bounders." I fell in love with Bunchy! The thoughtful attention he gives to a lonely, forsaken debutante wallflower illustrates his well-drawn character so well. Quite honestly, Bunchy so engaged me that his murder made me quite zealous for a resolution, and I was rooting for Inspector Alleyn's success all the way! 4.5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan Teder

    Blackmail and Murder Review of the Felony & Mayhem paperback edition (2012) of the 1938 original Death in a White Tie is a fairly early work (No. 7 of 33) in the Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard series by New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh. Alleyn and his sidekick Fox are set on the trail of a blackmailer during the London season of debutantes and balls. Alleyn enlists the aid of his friend Lord Robert "Bunchy" Gospell who is adept and well-loved in the social circles of the season. Bu Blackmail and Murder Review of the Felony & Mayhem paperback edition (2012) of the 1938 original Death in a White Tie is a fairly early work (No. 7 of 33) in the Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard series by New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh. Alleyn and his sidekick Fox are set on the trail of a blackmailer during the London season of debutantes and balls. Alleyn enlists the aid of his friend Lord Robert "Bunchy" Gospell who is adept and well-loved in the social circles of the season. Bunchy apparently uncovers the blackmailer but is murdered as a result and before he can pass on the info to the police. Uncovering the blackmailer and now murderer becomes a crusade for Alleyn who also feels guilty about enlisting his friend's aid. I found Death in a White Tie to be a delightful golden age mystery with its social commentary on the old customs of debutantes coming out during the season. There are plenty of likely suspects and red herrings to keep you entertained and guessing. The book also has a subplot that continues Alleyn's courtship of painter Agatha Troy who will continue to play a prominent role in later books in the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    see review other edtions

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the seventh novel of the Roderick Alleyn series and it was first published in 1938. This series comprises a total of 32 books. Roderick Alleyn belongs firmly in the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" which is a type of fiction which was predominant in the 1920s and 1930s. According to Wiki, "many of the authors of the Golden Age were British: Margery Allingham (1904–1966), Anthony Berkeley (aka Francis Iles, 1893–1971), Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Freeman Wills Crofts (1879–1957), R. Aust This is the seventh novel of the Roderick Alleyn series and it was first published in 1938. This series comprises a total of 32 books. Roderick Alleyn belongs firmly in the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" which is a type of fiction which was predominant in the 1920s and 1930s. According to Wiki, "many of the authors of the Golden Age were British: Margery Allingham (1904–1966), Anthony Berkeley (aka Francis Iles, 1893–1971), Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Freeman Wills Crofts (1879–1957), R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943), Michael Innes (1906–1993), Philip MacDonald (1900–1980), Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957), Josephine Tey (1896–1952), Anne Hocking (1890–1966), and many more. Ngaio Marsh (1895–1982) was from New Zealand, but her detective Roderick Alleyn was British. Georges Simenon was from Belgium and wrote in French. Some of them, such as John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, and S. S. Van Dine, were American but had similar styles". The plot is about the murder of a British lord after a debutant's party, with plenty of treachery, heiresses, gamblers, adulterers and blackmail. A great and fast-paced story written by one of the writers who are considered as "Queen of Crime". A TV series Death in a White Tie (1993), produced by BBC, was made based on this book, with Patrick Malahide, Belinda Lang, William Simons. 4* A Man Lay Dead 4* Death in a White Tie 3* Death of a Peer 3* Death and the Dancing Footman 3* Night at the Vulcan 3* When in Rome TBR Death at the Bar TBR Dead Water TBR Clutch of Constables

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandi (Zorena)

    I would say this is my favourite Marsh mystery so far as it was a quick and delightful read. I think I prefer Marsh to Christie because the story tends to elaborate more on the victim and suspects than around the detective/snoop. Detective Alleyn and his friends and family are central to the stories but as a nice aside unlike Christie's Hercule etc. Where a single character tends to dominate. If you're a Ngaio fan I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this as the characters are engaging and the mystery ha I would say this is my favourite Marsh mystery so far as it was a quick and delightful read. I think I prefer Marsh to Christie because the story tends to elaborate more on the victim and suspects than around the detective/snoop. Detective Alleyn and his friends and family are central to the stories but as a nice aside unlike Christie's Hercule etc. Where a single character tends to dominate. If you're a Ngaio fan I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this as the characters are engaging and the mystery has enough of a twist so you aren't sure immediately who the victim will be and who the murderer is.

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