The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries – A Man Lay Dead, and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh

The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries by Ngaio Marsh
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EXCERPT: (From ‘A Man Lay Dead’) He had heard much of Sir Hubert Handesley’s ‘unique and delightfully original’ house-parties from a brother journalist who had returned from one of them, if the truth be told, somewhat persistently enthusiastic. Charles Rankin, himself a connoisseur of house-parties, had refused many enviable invitations in favour of these unpretentious weekends. And now, as a result of a dinner party at old Charles’s flat, here was Nigel himself about to be initiated.

(From A Surfeit of Lampreys) …for Roberta the invitation broke like a fabulous rocket, that Roberta’s mother, when Lady Charles Lamprey telephoned, was thrown into a frenzy of sewing that lasted until two o’clock in the morning, that Roberta’s father bicycled four miles before eight o’clock in order to leave at Te Moana a strange parcel, a letter of introduction on behavior, and five shillings to give the housemaid. Frid always sympathised when Roberta said her people were poor, as though they were all in the same boat, but the poverty of the Lampreys, as Roberta was to discover, was a queer and baffling condition understood by nobody, not even their creditors, and certainly not by poor Lord Charles with his eyeglass, his smile and his vagueness.


A game of ‘murders’ at Sir Hubert Handesley’s country house party becomes far too realistic for anyone’s liking. First a guest arrives with a dangerously lethal dagger and then, when the gong sounds to announce the start of the game, the victim plays dead in a very convincing manner. Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn believes the unusual dagger is a vital clue to the real-life murder, and soon he’s on the trail of a Russian secret society.

A Surfeit of Lampreys:

Like all good aristocrats, the Lampreys are charming but penniless – so a visit from the wealthy head of their family is greatly anticipated. However, their Uncle Gabriel isn’t persuaded to part with his money and a row ensues. When a body is found in the lift leading to the Lampreys’ flat, Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn finds a family immersed in hidden secrets and intrigue.

Jeremy Clyde stars as Chief Inspector Alleyn in these BBC Radio dramatisations of two of Ngaio Marsh’s much-loved mysteries.

MY THOUGHTS: I came late unto the pleasure of Ngaio Marsh, a Dame here in her native New Zealand. But although I have only recently begun to read her work, I rank her up there with, or perhaps even slightly above, Agatha Christie.

She has a great gift for placing the reader in the moment, of carrying them along on a pleasant, meandering, but purposeful ride of discovery. She captures the nuances and atmosphere of the era, and has the great knack both of getting her characters absolutely perfect and of setting the perfect scene, creating the perfect atmosphere.

Ngaio Marsh’s murder-mysteries are fun, good jolly rollicking fun. And this BBC Radio rendition is first class. It brought back fond memories of listening to plays on the radio with my grandmother when I was a child.

Although the BBC audio productions of Marsh’s books are somewhat abridged, the sheer quality of the production makes this well worth listening to.

I listened to the audiobook of The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries containing A Man Lay Dead and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh, starring Jeremy Clyde as Inspector Alleyn, produced by BBC Radio 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!

2 thoughts on “The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries – A Man Lay Dead, and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh”

    1. The BBC productions are, as always brilliant but rather brief. So I still intend to read the books at some point. I ‘m glad you enjoy the Inspector Alleyn mysteries too Barb. 😎


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