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Summary

Ngaio Marsh’s most popular novel begins when a young New Zealander’s first contact with the English gentry is the body of Lord Wutherford - with a meat skewer through the eye....

The Lampreys had plenty of charm - but no cash. They all knew they were peculiar - and rather gloried in it. The double and triple charades, for instance, with which they would entertain their guests - like rich but awful Uncle Gabriel, who was always such a bore. The Lampreys thought if they jollied him up he would bail them out - yet again.

Instead Uncle Gabriel met a violent end. And Chief Inspector Alleyn had to work our which of them killed him....

©1941 Original Text of 1941 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"The queen of the straight crime novel - long may she reign!" ( Sunday Times)
"Brilliantly readable...first class detection." ( Observer)
"Ngaio Marsh transcended the detective genre by the power of her writing and the rich variety of characters who people her novels." (P. D. James)

What listeners say about Surfeit of Lampreys

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Marsh joy

Even if you have heard the dramatised or abridged versions of this story, this is well worth a listen. It's one I am sure I will enjoy again and again (as I do with other Insoector Alleyn stories. Ngaio Marsh never did produce a pot boiler. Every single one of her full length Alleyn mysteries is beautifully written - a joy to read or hear. You

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Wonderful reading of possibly the best Alleyn story. Just wish Mr Franks could do all the Alleyn books......he is far and away the best interpreter.

4 people found this helpful

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Philip Franks

Philip Franks is the best reader of Ngaio Marsh books. Please get him to do all of them.

2 people found this helpful

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Mixed Bag

I don't know why but this was my least enjoyable Ngaio Marsh story. The characters I found irritating. The story a little far fetch. The narration was good. Hence a mixed bag.

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Surfeit of Lampreys

Classic crime novel immensely enhanced by Philip Franks’ narration. An unbeatable combination, Perfectly pitched. More Marsh from Franks please.

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Love the Lampreys

I have been working my way through the Alleyn mystery’s and this is by far my favourite. Ngaio Marsh has a wonderful way of really bringing the characters to life. In all the books I love the fact it’s written of its time with old fashioned manners and the vocabulary is wonderful .

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The method of murder gave me the horrors

I love Philip Franks's narration. I love Ngaio Marsh - usually. But the way the murder was done in this one was too unpleasant for me. I've never before been thrown by how a murder had been done in a 'Golden Age' mystery but I found this one too horrific. I know many regard Surfeit of Lampreys as one of the best - if not the best - of her mysteries but as well as hating the method of murder, I also found it a bit dull and claustrophobic compared to many of the others.

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Perfect escape

Large parts of this aren't a mystery novel at all, but a portrait of a family of charming posh eccentrics, a little as if 'I Capture the Castle' had a murder halfway through. If the posh eccentrics get on your nerves you will not enjoy this! But if you're in the mood to sink into that sort of thing this is cozy escapist mystery at its best, and it's hard to beat Marsh for elegant witty writing.

It would be wonderful if Philip Franks recorded the rest of the series, which is scattered over a bunch of narrators right now, his Alleyn is perfect.

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Classic Whodunnit

An entertaining story in the classic Marsh style . The narrator has a lovely voice, never jarring and distinguishing characters' voices perfectly.

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Too many Lampreys

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I usually enjoy Ngaio Marsh's mysteries but this just had too many twee people in it who seemed to behave in very stupid ways. It made the book somewhat tedious.

What could Ngaio Marsh have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

If she had stopped the silly twins behaving so asininely it may have helped.

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

The performance was fine, just spoiled by the cast of characters he had to portray

Do you think Surfeit of Lampreys needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Absolutely not, if the same characters were to be in it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Meep
  • 26-11-15

Worth waiting for!!!

Hooray!!! I've been waiting forever for an unabridged recording of Surfeit of Lampreys to appear here at Audible, and it finally has with the added bonus that the reader is absolutely stellar. I can not overemphasize how good Philip Franks is, what a treat that new recordings are being offered with a reader that does justice to the work.
As far as the actual story goes, it's not one of my favorites, because I don't really like the Lampreys all that much (except for Henry), but they have many charming or funny moments to recommend them and are well worth visiting. The mystery is good, I think, and sticks to the rules of providing the reader with the critical clue, but obfuscating it so effectively that I, for one, did not notice it at all until we reached the reveal at the end. This is a golden age mystery, and not a modern police procedural, so some may find it slow, but if you are a fan of golden age works as I am, I think you will very much enjoy this one.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Anita Hagins
  • 16-12-15

1930's "Cosy" murder mystery perfection.

Inspector Allen! Upper class twits! Can't be beat.
Ngaio Marsh never fails to deliver a tightly plotted believable mystery. Excellent character development.
If you live Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) you will love this and any other of Marsh's books.

10 people found this helpful

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  • J. Lewis
  • 24-10-15

So Charming

I have been waiting for years and years for someone to do an unabridged audiobook of this title!!! It was worth the wait. I first read this book when it was entitled "Death of a Peer" and fell in love with the charming Lampreys.
And I have to say that the Narrator is unequaled!!! What a total delight!!!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Marie
  • 08-04-16

One Of Her Best

Filled with odd yet appealing characters, Surfeit of Lampreys is one of my favorite Marsh books. If you haven't read Ngaio Marsh before, start with her earlier books, such as this one. The reader get a better sense of who Roderick Alleyn is and how he solves crimes. Alleyn and his staff are more involved in the story in Marsh's earlier books. Surfeit of Lampreys predates Alleyn's marriage to Troy but does feature his friend Nigel Bathgate.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Connie Cline
  • 04-01-16

Delightful characters, somewhat outlandish story

Any additional comments?

Another wonderful Ngaio Marsh. I thought I had read all her books and was thrown off by the title of this one. It was perhaps published as Death of a Peer at one point? (I haven't looked it up.) Fortunately I had read it many years ago and remembered nothing so I was able to get full enjoyment this time. It would be useful if Audible would make clear all the titles the books go under because, like the great Agatha's, they were often different in the US and the UK for whatever reason. The reader did a very good job - pleasant to listen to and made easy to distinguish characters.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Customer
  • 31-03-16

Quite good

Excellent writing and a very good example of the golden age of detective fiction. Phillip Franks is a terrific voice actor. He's more than a "reader" and I look forward to hearing more from him.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah E. Markey
  • 29-08-16

Charmed, I'm Sure

This is perhaps Ngaio Marsh's most charming of her many charming books. How it has affected me is this: I don't believe I have ever written the word 'charming' before in my lifetime. I read this years ago in paperback, but hearing it spoken aloud has been another experience, another quite charming experience, I am tempted to say, but I will not. I'll just urge you to enjoy it for yourselves.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Helen L.
  • 05-07-16

Murder meets eccentricity

Same methodical piecing together of clues in a pattern to solve the crime by chief inspector Alleyne...but this time amidst an array of ditsy and likable family members and several not so likable relatives and servants. For the first time in a Marsh mystery, I guessed the murderer, but still enjoyed the story, despite gruesome crimes.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Erika
  • 19-07-16

Excellent story crafting. Marsh at her finest.

Crime fiction done justice by Marsh on the whole and especially her. Great story great run around the countryside and so good to see all the loose ends disposed of in a crime story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DDJTJ
  • 25-09-21

CLASSIC MARSH

SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS BY NGAIO MARSH AND NARRATED BY PHILIP FRANKS is in my humble opinion one of Ngaio Marsh's greatest !

The Lampreys are kind,gentle and dead broke! Sir Charles Lamprey has written to his wealthy, miserly brother begging him to come to the rescue! Sir Charles brother Gabriel, along with his crazy wife and two of their hired help goes to the Lamprey flat and Gabriel flat out refuses to help. As Gabriel gets into the lift and waits for his wife,someone shoves a skewer into his eye and right up into his brain. Enter Alleyn ! The Lampreys along with their guest close ranks against Alleyn.

I have been a diehard Marsh fan since I was in High School many many moons ago. I have read and re read all of her books but I consider A SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS one , if not her best! This is the first time I have listened to the audiobook version and Philip Franks does a great job .