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Summary

Wealthy Sir Hubert Handesley's original and lively weekend house parties are deservedly famous. To amuse his guests, he has devised a new form of the fashionable Murder Game, in which a guest is secretly selected to commit a 'murder' in the dark, and everyone assembles to solve the crime. But when the lights go up this time, there is a real corpse....

©1934 Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about A Man Lay Dead

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excellent as always

wonderful narration, excellent story. What more could you want from old school classic detection fiction.

15 people found this helpful

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Entertaining Characters!

Philip Franks is brilliant as the narrator & the Russian/Polish side story was really entertaining. Loved it.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A classic!

Good plot on the whole. Well read and entertaining. Ending is ridiculous and implausible. But still for all that a good easy listen up to that point. Writen in the Agatha Christie country house murder mystery style.

5 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed narration but slow to get going

Edited from a review given when I was in danger of giving up on this book and I am now glad I didn't!

Having noticed that these stories have been televised and being a lover of murder mysteries, I expected to really love this book. I like Agatha Christie and cosy Murder mystery type books very much. But unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this to begin with. I doubted I would finish it as I found myself choosing other books before this one and only listening if I have nothing else available. I feel it lacked pace, lacked any engaging plot, felt dated and the characters were not likeable at all.

On the positive side, I enjoyed the narrator, his accents, his pace, different voices and felt he brought the story to life. I have seen him on television doing totally different characters which he does well here and his voice was lovely to listen to.

However, I didn’t really like any of the characters enough to really engage with them or care if any of them were the murderer, or even murdered. The victim seemed to be the most interesting person there so I was sorry he was dispatched quite early!! I thought the story would align with another character having started with him, but he seemed sidelined when Detective Alleyn arrived.

It might be that it is inevitably dated (originally published in 1934) and a pinch of salt is needed, like any book of it’s time. But I found at least three of the women to be extremely annoying, simpering, fainting or nagging at their husbands. The upstairs/downstairs nature of the household feels cliche although I understand that it may well be that the cliche has formed since this was first written!

I liked Inspector Alleyn but until around 4/5 of the way through, he kept everything to himself. He came across as cold and prevented me as a reader in engaging in the mystery myself. I felt he lacked a second in command, like Poirot’s Hastings or Sherlock’s Watson which would give us an opportunity to hear what he is thinking. His investigation took a very methodical approach that you would expect from the police but I found it quite dull. And then with around a fifth of the book left, he took two characters into his confidence, the action moved to a different place and warm humour suddenly made an appearance. It was a bit like meeting a teacher outside of school, suddenly seeing more of his real character. I wish there had been a little more of that earlier in the book as it would have endeared me to him sooner. I am suddenly interested in who did it and would consider another in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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Surprising A good listen

This is my first Ngaio Marsh listen, it will not be my last Phillip Franks was an excellent Narrator.
The story kept me listening with all its twisted and turns. Written with wit as well as a who done it. A good listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Alleyn catches his man!

I loved it, and it had me guessing right until the big reveal l! Phillip Franks did a wonderful job narrating, I could imagine all of the parts with ease. It was thoroughly enjoyable!

1 person found this helpful

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A truly brilliant narration by Philip Franks

For 20ties 30ties escapist comfort reading you can't beat Ngaio Marsh. They are well written and there is much in the attitudes of the main characters to help overcome any squeamishness at the inequality and snobbery of the background.

Philips Franks is one of the few truly brilliant narrators. Wonderful at all the voices and accents, and he is able to make the female characters sound female and not like a man being camp.. I wish he'd narrated more of the early Marsh's.

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoyable

Kind of old school detectives, but I do very much like it and would read another.

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Enjoyable light listening

Not her best story, but entertaining none the less. Excellent narration and presentation, easy listening.

1 person found this helpful

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Quite enjoyable, not my cup of tea though

If you enjoy a classic whodunnit kinda story, then I highly recommend this book.

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Profile Image for Laurence G. Byrne
  • Laurence G. Byrne
  • 25-02-16

Classic Upper Crust Mystery

Any additional comments?

"A Man Lay Dead," although published in 1934, holds up well as an intriguing classic mystery. Like some others of its kind, the novel might have been batter read than heard. That is not to say it was not well performed,(It was.) but that there are so many characters, one practically needs a score card to keep them straight. As the book progressed and some of the red herrings were caught and set aside, it became easier to follow the development of plot and character.
I did get involved enough that I found it difficult to turn off the recording. This might be a great "read" for a long and otherwise dull car trip when one could listen to large sections at a time.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Karen Williams
  • 15-09-16

Good Cozy Mystery Made Great With Franks Narration

What made the experience of listening to A Man Lay Dead the most enjoyable?

After exhausting the Hugh Fraser narrated Agatha Christie books, I turned my attention to Ngaio Marsh novels. I knew Inspector Alleyn from the 1990s Alleyn Mystery series, but nothing about the books. I decided to listen to the series in order. Lucky for me, Philip Franks narrates the first book in the series. He takes this 1934 detective story and makes it such fun. Franks' interpretation brings a breeziness to the story (especially in the way he voices Alleyn) that adds wit and charm. In a later novel, Artists in Crime, narrated by Franks, his interpretation of Alleyn's mother adds a dimension of character and wry humor that other narrators do not deliver. Mama Alleyn's analysis of the suspects is rewind and listen again funny. Franks delivers the lines as people actually speak. Franks performs this audiobook, he doesn't read it. The other predominant narrator in this series, James Saxon, seems to me, to read in such an overly melodramatic fashion that makes it much less enjoyable. In Saxon's readings, Alleyn comes across as stern and humorless, even though the books are filled with sardonic descriptions and conversations.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Not really, it's a good representation of the cozy mystery genre. I enjoy that genre for telling a story without being gory. The development of the characters is the jewel in this series. That being said, Marsh is probably a better representation of what society was like in the 1930s (that's the decade I'm currently on in this series) than Christie. Much more acknowledgement of sex, drugs and language than Christie.

What about Philip Franks’s performance did you like?

Everything. He's a gem and perfectly suited to this material. He's able to perform distinct voices (in a novel with a lot of characters) so that you know who is talking. Like Hugh Fraser, his female voices are very good (although Angela's voice changes from her first scene where she has a deep voice to a lighter "girlier" voice later that's much better). He interprets Alleyn, Fox, Bathgate and Angela in a way that makes you just love them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was. I didn't, but I could have.

Any additional comments?

This is a solidly-crafted cozy mystery that brings a lightness and wink-wink, nudge-nudge, we're-all-having-fun-now element to it. Well worth the time and easy to listen to multiple times.** Audible: If you will re-record the Marsh novels with Franks reading, I will re-purchase every one of them - truly.** He's perfect.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 18-11-16

classic detective story, done well

if you read Ngaio Marah, you know own what you are getting: a solid mystery (logic pizzzle) with a teeny bit of character development for the detective thrown.in over many novels. I love these books and two classic British detective genre. there is a very good reason Marsh ranks up there with Christie and Sayers.

here, the narrator/voice performer does am excellent job with the different characters.

5 people found this helpful

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  • notlad
  • 05-04-19

The narrator is absolutely perfect.

This is a great book and the narrator performs so well that I could listen to him all day.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • James & Noreen Tichenor
  • 29-06-17

Page turner.

Page turner. Suspenseful great audio book. I love the twists, turns and details of the select stars like Marsh.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Brian Chafin
  • 16-04-17

Too many cliched

Save us from murders at British weekend house parties. And save us from mysterious gangs of foreigners. The introductory Alleyn novel had included these and other overworked British mystery themes. Alleyn himself is clever and intelligent but not well developed as a character. In short, give this a miss unless you are set on reading the whole series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Cynthia Johnson
  • 30-09-16

great start to a series.

I enjoyed this story. i like that there was a sub plot also. The narrator does a fairly good job. Got lost as to who was speaking a few times but overall very good. The solution was unique.

2 people found this helpful

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  • April P. Kane-Warnke
  • 27-01-20

A very good story

The voices of the characters are great. The story is both entertaining and intellectual. The story is a bit on the long side.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for jcollins@gprep.org
  • jcollins@gprep.org
  • 08-11-17

A great example of the classic “murder at the manor “

Ngaio Marsh invites us to join a fascinating cast of characters as they play “Murder” during a weekend in Sir Hubert’s country home. Predictably, the game turns deadly but the plot’s twists and turns were unexpected. Inspector Alleyn is, as always, urbane, witty, brilliant AND very human. Philip Frank’s performance is a delight. Each character’s voice is unique and consistent. Frank always manages to resist caricature. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Sharon
  • Sharon
  • 19-11-16

Oh well....

First listened to "A Surfeit of Lampreys." Delightful characters. Kind of confusing story but that really didn't matter. Chose that as Marsh's reported best. Liked it sufficiently to start from the beginning of the series. Flimsy. Weak. Dull. On to something else...

3 people found this helpful