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Summary

A man dies with his hand on a radio dial. A distinguished aristocrat finds murder at the opening night of a play. A cryptogram produces death in an English churchyard.

Death on the Air and Other Stories serves as the perfect introduction to Ngaio Marsh and her creation, Inspector Roderick Alleyn, or as a nostalgic journey for her many fans.

©1989 Ngaio Marsh

What listeners say about Death on the Air and Other Stories

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

slight production flaw

I read Ngaio Marsh before Agatha Christie and have always preferred her writing, however these are an odd collection of stories and I have to wonder how some were included. The introduction is very long, it is interesting, but we are not told in the title info which author is offering their opinion, so have to wait til the end of the intro to find out - there are no gaps between the end of one story and the start of the next. In some cases the is barely a breath between the punchline and the next title, making them seem like one long and rather confusing sentence. A short pause to let the reader enjoy the end of a story would make the book considerably better. There were a couple I actively disliked, not least the pick your own end that was originalky a radio play and did not convert well to this genre and a single narrator. The narrator did well, given the eclectic mix of content - but I do feel that she must have been aware of running one story into the next as she rushed headlong to get to the end of the book - would I like to see more Ngaio Marsh books on Audible, yes, would I wish to hear more short stories or more from this producer - probably not

4 people found this helpful

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Lifeless

What disappointed you about Death on the Air and Other Stories?

Sorry but this did not keep my attention, so I did not listen to very much.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jk
  • 08-09-21

Period ngaio stories

Traditional pieces written between 1930s and 1970s and very much of their time and ‘golden era’ detective stories.

I prefer the full length novels but these stories were well performed and enjoyable.

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Gave up after the third story

Sadly these stories are really dated and unsophisticated. There was no substance to hold my attention.

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For fans of Ngoako

I listened to this with interest. The foreword by Susan Howatch is very informative of Ngaio’s life. The stories are well written and conquer up a period of time long gone. They reflect the times they were written in and as she had a good life span they cover many years and changes. As it’s included with prime membership I would recommend this to all mystery fans.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lynne Phelps
  • 25-11-06

Fascinating insights from the author

<p>Ngaio Marsh was queen of the golden age of British “who-done-its”, far surpassing the work of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. I have re-read her books countless times over the years. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the short stories in this anthology, and in fact ordered the anthology because of them, in the end it was the essays that I found most fascinating. </p>
<p>The introduction by author Susan Howatch was a magnificent tribute to Marsh’s work and its influence upon her own prolific and outstanding writing career. She goes on to give a very interesting biography of Ngaio Marsh and an analysis of her body of work. </p>
<p>In the first essay, Ngaio Marsh talks how the series began and how her detective, Roderick Alleyn, was formed. She also discusses the beginnings of his love, artist Agatha Troy. In the closing essay, “My Dear Boy”, she writes a conversational response to all the aspiring writers who have appealed to her over the years. These essays were significantly enhanced by the reading of Nadia May, as I could almost imagine that the author herself was speaking her thoughts. </p>
<p>The short stories were also very good. They had originally been published in various magazines and were quite ingenious, with settings spanning the range from the theater to village life to New Zealand. For those who enjoyed Marsh’s novel “Death of a Peer” (the American title of “A Surfeit of Lampreys”) you will enjoy the reappearance of Lord Michael Lamprey in a cameo role in one of the stories. Agatha Troy also makes an appearance, and, as ever, Alleyn is assisted by the trusty Inspector Fox. </p>
<p>I recommend this audio book to anyone who loves Ngaio Marsh; to anyone who would like to get to know the great Ngaio Marsh stories; and to anyone who loves classic detective fiction, particularly of the British who-done-it variety. </p>

33 people found this helpful

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  • KO
  • 31-10-20

Not actual stories

This is just a foreword and then the author describing her books - it’s not actually stories

13 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 07-11-20

A Treasure Trove

I was brought up short by the introduction’s assertion that Ngaio Marsh was a better writer—meaning a better craftsman—than Agatha Christie. Though I've enjoyed several Alleyn novels, the comparison never occurred to me. But I agree.

Of course, the “portraits” of Inspector Alleyn and Agatha Troy at the beginning of this collection tackle the questions fans want answered most, but they also feature some vivid writing. The imagery and dramatic pacing in the eight stories that follow (one recounting a true mystery; one, the most emotionally insightful of the bunch, written when she was still a girl) testify to the influence of Marsh’s other two pursuits, in front of the easel and behind the scenes at the theater. Listening to these stories, it's hard to believe that--at least according to the introduction--writing was merely Marsh’s third love.

The TV script, “Evil Liver”, was just as good as any of the stories and (to my surprise) just as engrossing, in spite of its script format. And the final piece, “Oh, My Poor Boy”, a letter to someone who wanted to be an author, is a dash of cold, sensible water in the face of all dilletantes. Nadia May serves up each piece to perfection.


4 people found this helpful

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  • ner_do_well
  • 09-11-20

The narration kills it

I'm not a big Ngaio Marsh fan. But I think the production quality here kills the enjoyment. The volume levels change and there is background noise, like page flipping or other sounds that distract.
But the absolute worst about it is the pompous feel of the narrator. It absolutely ruins the audiobook. You spend more time focusing on the narrator than on the story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 10-04-21

Adequate

I like the portions with the Alleyns, but found most stories predictable and not as well-crafted as her more fully-fleshed out novels.
The background essays on Alleyn and Troy were great fun.
I did enjoy the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kaiyaque
  • 15-12-20

Not bad. Excellent background info

Good enough stories. Not as fabulous as her novels, but Conan Doyle was the master of that genre. (Conversely, his Holmes novels only got that long with rather trite, Ned Buntline-style back stories.) Worth it to round out a Ngaio Marsh collection.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mike summa
  • 26-10-20

An excellent compilation of stories.

I greatly enjoy the style and the stories. The narration was excellent.
I am officially a Ngaio Marsh fan .

1 person found this helpful

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  • Scott G
  • 23-09-20

Good Introduction To Ngaio Marsh

This book provides an interesting range of stories and other forms of writing by Ngaio Marsh. It is a nice introduction to her main characters Roderick Alleyn and Agatha Troy, and showcases her other talents outside of her main series. She wrote about what she observed around her. Some people say this makes her material dated. I say that it provides a window into another, older time that I would not normally have. Finally, I gave Performance 4 stars because the reading seems to run from one story right into the next with little perceptible pause. It makes it difficult to tell when one story ends and the next begins.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Customer
  • 11-09-20

Wanda McMaddon AKA Nadia May

Before beginning this poor review, let me emphasize the fact that I love the work of both Miss Marsh and Miss May. I bought all of Ngaio Marsh’s books which were available through Audible at the time if narrated by Nadia May because I loved her performance so much, and I love most of the books by Miss Marsh. This book and the narration I did not love and do not recommend.

I found Miss May’s reading much too breathy, and I would find myself struggling to breathe for her before she smoothed out. Stories ran together because there wasn’t enough of a break between each for the listener to process the fact the story had ended. The experience of listening to this collection was not unlike what I used to experience reading my Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines years ago. A couple of **really** good stories, a couple of bad ones, but mostly entertaining and forgotten when the next magazines were delivered.

Given I have enjoyed the full length Ngaio Marsh Audible books narrated by Nadia May, I don’t think it’s fair to place all the blame of not enjoying this one on the narration.

I didn’t buy or use a credit for this recording, I’m happy to say. I “borrowed” it through the new Audible Plus program. A fan of Inspector Roderick Alleyn will enjoy the first story in this collection in which he and his wife make an appearance, but features Sir Michael Lamprey. Sadly, none of his charming children make an appearance.

1 person found this helpful

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  • peter
  • 20-08-21

Very good

Excellent intro to NM or just very enjoyable snacks of her fine writing. Nadia May gives a fine narration and the last essay “oh my poor boy” is really a great message to a would-be author and a fine insight into the craft. Recommended