- Title: Overture To Death
- Author: Ngaio Marsh
- ISBN: 9780515068221
- Page: 474
- Format: Paperback
Who in the quiet village of Chipping would kill wealthy spinster Idris Campanula Plenty of people, among them her fellow cast members from a troubled charity production Miss Campanula was a spiteful gossip, gleefully destroying others lives merely for her own excitement But once Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives, he quickly realizes that the murderer might have killedWho in the quiet village of Chipping would kill wealthy spinster Idris Campanula Plenty of people, among them her fellow cast members from a troubled charity production Miss Campanula was a spiteful gossip, gleefully destroying others lives merely for her own excitement But once Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives, he quickly realizes that the murderer might have killed the wrong woman and may soon stage a repeat performance.
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Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn goes to the small village of Chipping in 1939’s Overture to Death, published during the height of Ngaio Marsh’s heyday. The local church really needs a new piano, so a group of eight local citizens gets together to raise money for a new piano by putting on a play. Two middle-aged spinsters, Idris Campanula and Eleanor Prentice, embody the modern term “frienemies,” heads always together in gossip against the rest of the world, but backbiting at ea [...]
It’s a solidly entertaining mystery, I suppose, aware of the genre and making sly little jokes at its expense. It doesn’t really sparkle, though; I felt that the culprit was made obvious by their behaviour, and not just because they acted guilty — also because they had that whole cliché Freudian repressed sexuality going on, which seems to crop up in crime fiction of that period far too much. Gaudy Night is another example, though it does sparkle, because of the character development that [...]
I do love the Roderick Alleyn mysteries. I've read the first 8 so far, with Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh being the 8th one, plus a couple of others further down the line. They do seem to get better and better. The mysteries are always interesting. In this story, an unpopular woman is murdered in a most interesting way. Was she the target or another? Alleyn and his team, the steady, constant Inspector Fox and his friend, news reporter Nigel Bathgate, accompany Alleyn to Pen Cuckoo at the behe [...]
I have developed a theory regarding the appeal of these "golden age" British mysteries: every character is so poisonous and hateful that one is freed from any concern for their fates or sadness about the fictional death and suffering. This installment is set just before Alleyn's marriage, but sadly Troy does not feature.
Wanda McCaddon (who also narrates under the names Donada Peters and Nadia May) was perfect for this Golden Age mystery.August 2017: Very enjoyable even knowing the solution. I could appreciate how well Marsh gives the reader a the clues without making it obvious.
Well written, engaging, very detailedbut the pacing wasn't quite right. It seemed quite repetitive and longer than it needed to be. An enjoyable Golden Age mystery, but lacking that touch of magic that you get with Agatha Christie. Somehow not quite gripping enough.
Beware! Anti-spinster propaganda.
Wow this took forever to finish Overture to Death has all what I look for in a Mystery novel: It is very atmospheric, very British, steeped in the time period it is set in, oh, and possibly a little stereotypical. But still it made my eyes glaze over every time I read a couple of pages. The petty machinations of the two village harpies are quite entertaining. Marsh takes her time letting you know her characters and slyly pokes fun at the upper classes. Nonetheless the group of people remain more [...]
Pom! Pom! Pom! Three notes sounded from the piano. As the third one died away a shot rang out and a murder was committed in a sleepy English village where the inhabitants enjoyed their gossip and illicit love affairs.The local bobby was deemed incapable of solving the crime without the help of Chief Inspector Alleyn of Scotland Yard. He duly arrives with his trusty assistants and Nigel Bathgate, his faithful Watson.He interviews all the suspects and, in turn, it appears as though each of them co [...]
One of my favourite things about Marsh's book is that she spends quite a bit of time on the set up for the mystery-if you like action from the very beginning this book is not for you. I love the fact that we see so much scene development and character development in a mystery. For me, the scene and the atmosphere are as important as the mystery itself. DO NOT read the chapter titles, unless you like spoilers. If I had to pick my two favourite detectives ever, I would pick Poirot and Alleyn. Alle [...]
Really 3.5 starsI've read a number in this series over the years and seen a number of the BBC, I guess, productions so this was a visit with old friends, Chief Insp. Alleyn and Insp. (Brer) Fox. All that you would expect from Marsh is in this book, great characters, plot twists and turns, some humorous bits - Pen Cuckoo as the name of a house - and a satisfactory wrap up. Even though this book was written in the 1930s it is still enjoyable. This classic British mystery style continues today and [...]
Solid, but not quite as engaging as #7 in the series, for example. Very unique manner of murder, but almost too tidy a set-up to be believable. Also too many unsympathetic characters, especially the malicious spinsters. I liked Henry, one of the suspects, but some of the others I felt like shaking.
Marsh manages to work the oddest things into a murder mystery. Okay, so the old lady only knew one song, but for the piano to shoot her? I like the workings of villages and the class system in Britain at that time. It's just an interesting slice of history/life and a mystery, too.
Good entry in the Inspector Alleyn series though I wish that Fox had a bigger role.
This is the eighth of Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn mysteries, and it has always been one of my favorites. “Murder at the Parish Hall” or “Prelude to Death” it might have been called; either one would have been appropriate. Set in the last days before the Second World War in a rural Dorset village, I love the name of the gentry house: Pen Cuckoo. [Alleyn would return to the same neighborhood in a later novel, Death and the Dancing Footman.] It has many of Marsh’s stock characters: the doc [...]
Those familiar with Ngaio Marsh and her Roderick Alleyn novels know that her writing style isn't the frenzied roller-coaster ride so popular today. She takes her time letting you know her characters and slyly sending up the upper classes of her day. However, in Overture to Death, four or five chapters slip by simply exploring the petty machinations of two village harpies: a pair of gossipy, spiteful, meddlesome spinsters without equal. The endless focus of these parodies of the malicious spinste [...]
1939, #8 Inspector Roderick Alleyn, rural Dorset; classic village cosy. A stunningly intricate murder plot immersed in village life, two spinsters warring over a yummy clergyman, amateur theatricals, and an exploding piano make this a wonderful confection for classic mystery readers, and there’s just enough darkness mixed in to give it a nice edge. All the usual suspects are here, for along with the spinsters and the clergyman there’s the Squire, the young lovers (Squire’s son and clergyma [...]
This one was a whole lot of no for me. Everyone is just too repressed and English, and not in a good way. Because the real problem is that there's a strong undercurrent of cruelty and maliciousness (coupled with a strong tendency to willfully ignore and downplay the same) in this tiny English village, that honestly twenty pages in I didn't care who was killed, or who did it, or why. Everyone had motive to kill almost every other person, almost everyone was unpleasant.And I would argue this was a [...]
Marsh's mysteries are highly appealing in that they are complex, detailed puzzles. She puts all the information in front of the reader, while presenting appealing or revolting characters to entertain and possibly distract from untangling each mystery. I am often a lazy mystery reader, bobbing along on the surface and being surprised at the big "reveal", but I put part of this one together in advance (although not what happened with one of the side characters). As usual, well done. Some interesti [...]
One of the very best Alleyn mysteries. Which of the seven surviving members of the amateur dramatic cast murdered the eighth? A good cast of characters, well developed, a good exposition of rural Dorset and local society. And a nice problem for Alleyn to unravel, including a water pistol, a box, an onion!
The opening, before the murder, is a fantastic small town farce. I laughed out loud several times and wish it could have gone on in the style of Wodehouse without the crime. Marsh manages to write each nominal mystery novel in a different genre.
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I liked this one the best so far; Rory Alleyn seems to have finally hit his stride, or maybe I'm just getting used to him. Loved the description of the piano music and the spinsters.
This was one of my entirely satisfying Roderick Alleyns. I enjoy this work immensely, from the sordid village drama to the innocent lovers (although are they lovers? They're not married like three books later, although it's nice to see Diana as a leading lady). Ngaio Marsh does this very satisfying thing where I don't like the eventual murderer, but never actually suspect them, and then I can enjoy the schadenfreude in the eventual downfall. This is a solid puzzler with a solvable mystery and gr [...]
3.25 stars.This was almost 4 stars but I figured out who the murderer was quite easily so was disappointed with the ending because I was hoping for a twist. I’ve complained about the difficulty of Marsh in supplying clues before, but this time there were too many obvious clues and it was too easy to discover the murderer early on. It seems to me that Marsh needs to find a happy medium between too easy and impossible. I think she does a better job later on in the series.
Puro stile classico: il tipico villaggio inglese, i tipici personaggi 'stereotipati', lo squire, il rettore, le zitelle, i due ragazzi innamorati ma proprio per questo si legge con piacere, è come ritrovare un vecchio amico ben conosciuto. Comunque la trovata di come è avvenuto l'omicidio è ingegnosa e insolita: io, nella mia 'ingnoranza meccanica', non ho ancora capito bene come funziona il marchingegno.
A perfect mystery--and there really aren't many. If I were to introduce Scotland Yard Superintendent Roderick Alleyn to an interested party, this might just be the ideal doorway to usher them to. In essence, this is a "simple" English countryside puzzle--yet the undercurrents of that society and the amazing details of the death-riddle satisfy at every turn.
Ngaio Marsh’s characters are more types in Overture to Death than the dramatis personae have been thus far in my reading of the Roderick Alleyn series. In this, the book is reminiscent of the Mapp and Lucia books of E.F. Benson. But Overture is a methodically good mystery.
Apparently, I have read this one before. It is a bit dated, being first published in 1939. The story is an unrealistic cozy with a crazed sex starved spinster--very Freudian. A gun is fired through a piano at a village play.
An enjoyable enough book, but not my favorite in the Roderick Alleyn series. Ngaio Marsh has a talent for creating characters that are fun to hate and that definitely shines through quite brightly in this novel.
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