Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh

Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh
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EXCERPT: Probably the alarming entrance into this village has saved it from becoming another Clovelly or Polpero. Ladies with ‘ye olde shoppe’ ambitions would hesitate to drive through Coombe Tunnel and very large cars are unable to do so. Moreover, the village is not too picturesque. It is merely a group of houses whose whitewash is tarnished by the sea. There are no secret stairs in any of them, no ghosts walk Ottercombe Steps, no smugglers cave looks out from Coombe Rock. For all that, the place has a history of grog-running and wrecking. There is a story of a fight in the tunnel between excisemen and the men of Coombe, and there are traces of the gate that closed the tunnel every night at sunset. The whole of Ottercombe is the property of an irascible eccentric who keeps the houses in good repair, won’t let one of them to a strange shopkeeper and breathes venom on the word ‘publicity’. If a stranger cares to stay in Ottercombe he must put up at the Plume of Feathers, where Abel Pomeroy has four guest rooms, and Mrs Ives does the housekeeping and cooking. If the Coombe men like him, they will take him out in their boats and play darts with him in the evening. He may walk around the cliffs, fish off the rocks, or drive seven miles to Islington where there is a golf course and a three-star hotel. These are the amenities of Ottercombe.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A classic Ngaio Marsh novel in which a game of darts in an English pub has gruesome consequences.

At the Plume of Feathers in south Devon one midsummer evening, eight people are gathered together in the tap-room. They are in the habit of playing darts, but on this occasion an experiment takes the place of the usual game – a fatal experiment which calls for investigation.

A distinguished painter, a celebrated actor, a woman graduate, a plump lady from County Clare, and a Devonshire farmer all play their parts in the unravelling of the problem…

MY THOUGHTS: I am embarrassed to admit that this is the first book I have read by New Zealand author Ngaio Marsh, and I was quite surprised to find it set in South Devon rather than in New Zealand. I am also ashamed to admit that I knew very little about this author, and had to look her up.

Marsh has written an atmospheric ‘whodunit’, a little reminiscent of Christie’s work, but somewhat ‘fuller’ in both character and atmosphere. I like that her main character, Detective Roderick Alleyn, doesn’t exhibit all the idiosyncrasies and affectations so commonly found in lead characters of this era. He is a relatively normal, if somewhat laid back, character with keen powers of observation.

There is plenty of misdirection, and red herrings abound in Death at the Bar. It kept my brain whirring and my interest levels high. I have found a new alternative to re-rereading Christie and Ngaio Marsh has a new fan.

I listened to Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh, narrated by Nadia May and published by Blackstone Audio, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbled. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

6 thoughts on “Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh”

  1. Good to hear you enjoyed it. I have read this one before but don’t remember much of it. I will be reading it later this year with the Reading the Detectives group on GR in their Ngaio Marsh Challenge. I’e only managed to find three of the titles they’re including so will be joining in for those.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hope so too- I have read a few more of her books- later in the series which I’ve fairly enjoyed . The challenge includes only the first 12 titles, of which I have so far only managed to find three.

        Liked by 1 person

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