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Summary

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. Débutantes 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....

©1938 Original Text of 1938 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"Ngaio Marsh’s Death in a White Tie is the best detective story I have ever read..." (Dashiell Hammett)
"[This audiobook has] a distinction that puts the author in the front rank of crime story writers." ( Times Literary Supplement)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Terrible recording

It appeared to be a splicing together of several recordings. The EQ was terrible. I'm places inaudible.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Mono quality audio

Trying to get refund as this audio is terrible quality. It sounds very tinny and mono.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story & performance; poor recording quality

This is, to me, one of Ngaio Marsh's best books, and it's read very well. The downside is the very poor quality of the recording, which switches sound levels here and there, to the extent that I find myself wondering if the Bluetooth connection has broken and the sound is suddenly only coming through my iPod speaker. Disappointing.

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Enjoyable, however...

Excellent story from a brilliant writer, only slightly marred by the bad and variable audio quality

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dreadful quality recording

A great novel for Ngaio Marsh fans. James Saxon reads very well . Very poor quality recording - some parts sound as though they were recorded at the bottom of a well !

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David Adams
  • 23-03-16

Terrible sound quality ruins the experience

Ngaio Marsh and Inspector Alleyn are as reliable as ever in this mystery, and I don't feel much need to review the story itself. If you enjoy Ngaio Marsh novels, include this in your reading, it's a no brainer. Unfortunately this narrator is not so great, and the sound quality of the recording is atrocious, which makes this overall a mixed review.

First of all, the narrator James Saxon does a good enough job of speaking clearly and getting pauses, inflections, and pronunciations correct. And he does possess the capacity for a wide range of character voices. But he's not disciplined enough in their use to make it a great rading. As noted by others, he is hit and miss about giving the characters distinctive voices consistently, and the accent of one character often bleeds into surrounding prose or even other characters' lines. So, when you have a choice among narrators for a Ngaio Marsh title, I would definitely recommend Nadia May over James Saxon, and Philip Franks did a frankly masterful job on the title he narrated.

Finally, the recording quality here is downright atrocious. It's not just a matter of some general noisiness common to 90s-era and earlier audiobooks that were recorded or archived on tape. That's annoying, but one gets past it relatively quickly.

In the case of this book however, chapter by chapter there are variations in volume levels, background hiss, and recording quality. Some chapters sound like a 70s-era cassette recording of a 30s era radio broadcast. Even then, if the quality were consistently bad, it would be one thing, but it jumps around and every time it gets worse, you get more annoyed. This is just plain bad product, and that makes it all the more enraging that Audible is charging a premium price.

I expect an $18 audiobook to be a new recording, or a really excellent older recording. But this is just terrible, and Audible shouldn't be charging more than five bucks for it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katherine
  • 29-02-16

Very Poor Recording Quality

The book was good but the recordings itself was so poor it was hard to enjoy. I had to listen to the entire recording at three-quarter speed in order to distinguish the words. Disappointing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marie
  • 25-02-16

One of my favorites; terrible sound in place

For me, Ngaio Marsh's early books, where Roderick Alleyn and later Agatha Troy are more involved in the story, not just the investigation, are the best. Alleyn investigates the murder of a close friend and during the case meets Troy again. Their romance is a subdued but satisfying part of the story.

Normally I enjoy James Saxon's reading but at times his transition between characters was not clear. This made it hard at times to tell who was speaking, especially in scenes between Alleyn and Troy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 23-11-15

Horrible audio quality - totally disappointed

I love Ngaio Marsh and couldn't wait to listen to this. However, the narrator sounds like he recorded the audio through a door or something. Scratchy, distant, and muffled. I hope the others aren't like this. The previous books with the same narrator have been great.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • DJDecca
  • 05-11-15

A Waltz With a Side of Murder

Is there anything you would change about this book?

It's a typically good Ngaio Marsh with plenty of red herrings and an "interlude for romance" between Alleyn and his beloved Troy.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the character of Lord Robert and determination with which Alleyn pursued the murderer.

What didn’t you like about James Saxon’s performance?

There wasn't much differentiation between characters and it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. This was hampered by an overall problem with volume levels. From chapter to chapter, and occasionally within chapters, the sound varied to the point where I had to turn the volume up or down at least 4 levels.

Could you see Death in a White Tie being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

It has already been beautiful done by the BBC as part of the Mystery series. I highly recommend it, especially the wonderful Harold Innocent as Lord Robert.

Any additional comments?

A good story but the sound quality made it hard to enjoy. I'd recommend the abridged version featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. You miss some of the characters and plot, but the performance is outstanding.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen Ericksen
  • 06-07-16

Glad this has been recorded

Great to hear the famous writers writing in that old fashioned "who dunnit" style. Can't be read as a series straight though but periodically between other stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • KJ in Chicago
  • 06-05-18

Good Marsh Mystery Terrible Audio

It isn’t clear what’s happened with this recording. This narrator has done other Marsh mysteries and the recordings have been well-produced. However, this one sounded as if it had been recorded fifty years ago and then transferred to download format without any re-mastering or balancing of volume. I persisted because it is a Ngaio Marsh mystery, but this is definitely one of the poorest recordings, in terms of technical quality, that I’ve ever purchased from Audible.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Virginia
  • 14-02-18

Terrible sound quality, great story

Such a shame that the bad sound quality of this recording interfered with what was otherwise six stars.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • H.L. Harkness
  • 28-10-17

A bit Muddy

I believe that Ngaio Marsh faltered a but with this story. Even though I don't dislike it, I believe that this will not be one I recommend. I am happy about Troye & Alleyn, however. I hope to see more of Nigel and Angela.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie Cameron
  • 06-06-17

Excellent performance and story but poor sound quality

John Saxon did a great job of reading this excellent mystery but the quality of sound was disappointing. His voice would be low and then high, and too quick. I actually switched the speed to 0.75 to make it sound more natural. I tried it on both my IPad, IPhone, and through the Bluetooth in my vehicle. The problem was constant. The excellence of his reading and the story kept me listening despite the poor sound.
For lovers of classic mystery fiction the Inspector Alleyn series are a must-listen.