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Surfeit of Lampreys

Narrated by: Anton Lesser
Length: 3 hrs and 40 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Summary

Ngaio Marsh's most popular novel begins when young New Zealander Roberta Grey comes into contact with the Lamprey family, a peculiar bunch with plenty of charm but no money.

The Lampreys revel in their eccentricity and entertain their guests with complicated charades. But when one game goes wrong and rich Uncle Gabriel is found murdered in a most grizzly manner, the only person capable of solving the crime is Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn.

©1941 Ngaio Marsh (P)2009 Hachette Digital

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  • Liz
  • Gloucester, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
  • 03-08-09

Not a Surfeit of Lampreys

I am not a great fan of Ngaio Marsh's novels - though I am not sure why. They are always intelligent and well written, if not very taxing.
So why did I download this one? I had heard the Radio 4 drama and quite liked it. It was an abridged version - so it wouldn't be too long if I didn't like it. But the main reason was that Anton Lesser was the narrator.

I have to say that narration brought the whole novel to life for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Give it a try and I am sure you will enjoy it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Yvette
  • 30-04-12

Good ... But what did they leave out?

I enjoyed this book, but I only got this version because there was no unabridged version available. This is an interesting book, with some wonderfully creapy bits toward the end. It is also very well read by Anton Lesser.

My only problem is that I just keep wondering "what did they leave out?". I want the unabridged version. I have looked around for it in other places, I and I just can't find one. I would really appreciate it if Audible could get, or produce, an unabridged version of this book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer R. Golden
  • 15-08-12

AN OLD FAVORITE FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF MYSTERY

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Nagio Marsh is perhaps on one of the least well-known of the Golden Age mystery writers, but her plots are always well-knitted and her characters intriguingly quirky. They don't come any more eccentric than the Lamprey family, from whom the title comes, and her device of inserting the shrewd, but unsophisticated New Zealander allows for telling commentary on both the other charaters and English society in a gentle manner. The murder is suitabley gruesome and mysterious,. The murderer is not at all obvious and yet clearly indicated in hindsight, a feat easier to read than to write. I certainly recommend this book as one of the author's best.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Marsh's estimable hero, the upper-class, oh-so-suave Roderick Alleyn, does become a little tiresome, but the fault is in the writing. Alleyn needs a few faults and foibles to be truly lovable. The performance itself is workmanlike and enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 16-03-19

Lampreys in the worst sense of the word

Summary - narration is fantastic, the story was not great.

I was researching Ngaio Marsh's life online, and came across the definition of "lamprey." Lampreys are parasitic jawless fish with ugly mouths filled with circular rows of teeth. They live by attaching themselves to larger marine life, and using their teeth to latch on and dig flesh and blood out of their victim. They are revolting, disgusting creatures.

What a great analogy for the Lampreys. This family is presented as being charmingly eccentric English aristocrats. But I found them simply annoying - snobby with an appalling sense of entitlement. Nobody has an actual job. Instead, they lurch from economic crisis to crisis. When they are wealthy, they carelessly splurge and gamble, without a care for tomorrow or any thought of making their wealth last. When they are poor, they depend on an inheritance from a rich auntie or gifts from an older brother to keep them solvent. Parasites!

Now, as yet another economic crisis looms, they are waiting for the older brother to show up and lend (*cough cough* I wonder how many of these "loans" have ever been repaid?) them 2,000 pounds (a LOT of money in those days - probably on the order of $100,000 today!). Now, granted, the brother is an unpleasant, disagreeable fellow. But in no way is he obligated to help his feckless relatives out. This does not prevent any of the appalling Lampreys from insulting him behind his back, while assuming that it is the brother's duty to come to their rescue.

And then there is the mystery. Well, it's classified as a mystery. But it is definitely a second-rate murder mystery compared to any one of Agatha Christie's books.

This is the second book by Ngaio Marsh that I have listened to, but I won't be giving her another chance.

The only thing that saves this audiobook, and the only reason I gave it 2 stars, is due to the amazing narration by Anton Lesser. He creates distinctive characters of any age, any regional accent, and both genders with only the genius of his voice. I can only wish that Mr. Lesser had better material to work with here.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-04-12

What a mystery should be

Wonderful story. Quaint lovable characters. Lots of suspects and a few red herrings. Everything a good mystery should be, and executed nicely as well.