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For Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the trip was to be official; for his family, a Mediterranean romp. But a plot torn from the pages of a gothic novel soon engulfed them all. Alleyn's son was kidnapped. A very wealthy spinster was murdered. And in an eerie chateau, carved out of the Riviera mountainside, Alleyn faced the ultimate jet-set cult. For Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the trip was to be official; for his family, a Mediterranean romp. But a plot torn from the pages of a gothic novel soon engulfed them all. Alleyn's son was kidnapped. A very wealthy spinster was murdered. And in an eerie chateau, carved out of the Riviera mountainside, Alleyn faced the ultimate jet-set cult.


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For Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the trip was to be official; for his family, a Mediterranean romp. But a plot torn from the pages of a gothic novel soon engulfed them all. Alleyn's son was kidnapped. A very wealthy spinster was murdered. And in an eerie chateau, carved out of the Riviera mountainside, Alleyn faced the ultimate jet-set cult. For Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the trip was to be official; for his family, a Mediterranean romp. But a plot torn from the pages of a gothic novel soon engulfed them all. Alleyn's son was kidnapped. A very wealthy spinster was murdered. And in an eerie chateau, carved out of the Riviera mountainside, Alleyn faced the ultimate jet-set cult.

30 review for Spinsters in Jeopardy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have been reading through the Roderick Alleyn novels and am still a little undecided about what I think of them. Undoubtedly, Ngaio Marsh at her best is very good. I prefer Roderick Alleyn’s wife, Troy, to Wimsey’s Harriet (that is not Harriet’s fault, but the never ending, unrequited love story got rather trying) and have to admit that I prefer a Poirot, unencumbered by anyone, other than Hastings, to a married sleuth. In this novel, Alleyn is not only joined by Troy, but by a six year old so I have been reading through the Roderick Alleyn novels and am still a little undecided about what I think of them. Undoubtedly, Ngaio Marsh at her best is very good. I prefer Roderick Alleyn’s wife, Troy, to Wimsey’s Harriet (that is not Harriet’s fault, but the never ending, unrequited love story got rather trying) and have to admit that I prefer a Poirot, unencumbered by anyone, other than Hastings, to a married sleuth. In this novel, Alleyn is not only joined by Troy, but by a six year old son, Ricky, who appears precociously fully formed. Although Marsh is excellent at times, there are simply too many books where she is quite average. This is one of those times. In terms of style, this is like an early Campion, with gangs and sects, secret ceremonies and strange goings on abroad. Bizarrely, Alleyn determines to link up an investigation in Europe, with a family holiday. Troy has a distant cousin who has been sending her letters and she is keen to put a face to the name. Therefore, despite the fact this could be a dangerous investigation into a drug gang, Alleyn, Troy and Ricky head off towards the Alps, by train. Even before they arrive, both Alleyn and Troy witness a crime from the window of their train, while an elderly lady is taken ill on the train and, of course, the only doctor is staying at the house where they saw the crime happening. Enter odd group of, mainly English, eccentrics, mysterious and sinister leader and a lot of suspicious behaviour. Then, Ricky goes missing. Although Marsh throws herself into a serious crime – the kidnapping of a young child, she is torn between revealing Troy’s obvious horror and reassuring the reader that all will be well. Another child has previously been kidnapped the local police commissioner informs Troy, and he enjoyed the experience so much he wanted to stay with the kidnappers! Surprisingly, this does not reassure Troy at all and her response is, by far, the most realistic part of this novel. Overall, I am not a great fan of gangs in Golden Age crime novels – the reason why I stumbled over the early Campion novels. If I had not read much better mysteries by Marsh, this one might have stopped me in my tracks, but, as it is, I know she could do better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The French Riveria, the occult, a possible murder and a kidnapping. Alleyn with Troy and their son Ricky go on a busman’s holiday. He has ben asked to investigate the House of the Silver Goat by the French surete as a spy. Right from the start there is action, did they see a murder from their train carriage in the Chateau or was it charades. Dr Baradi an Egyptian doctor with the odious Mr Oberon cast a stench of evil and criminality. The elderly Miss Truebody’s appendicitis allows Alleyn to infi The French Riveria, the occult, a possible murder and a kidnapping. Alleyn with Troy and their son Ricky go on a busman’s holiday. He has ben asked to investigate the House of the Silver Goat by the French surete as a spy. Right from the start there is action, did they see a murder from their train carriage in the Chateau or was it charades. Dr Baradi an Egyptian doctor with the odious Mr Oberon cast a stench of evil and criminality. The elderly Miss Truebody’s appendicitis allows Alleyn to infiltrate the Chateau and Raoul his helpful driver assists him with his fiancée Teresa a maid working at the Chateau. I enjoyed the story it was a bit weird the kidnapping of Ricky. The whole reveal of Baradi as the murderer was fairly obvious as it could only have been him or Oberon. Some nice descriptions of the french coastal landscape as well as the jumbled up occult practices of Oberon snd his acolytes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    For once not a mystery from Marsh but a ripping yarn -- a ripping yarn about cults, drug trafficking, muddled identities and general derring-do. There's a mystery element in the tale, to be sure, but it very much takes the back seat in what's otherwise a romp. The Yard's Roderick Alleyn is being lent to the Sûreté to help nail an international drug-trafficking gang operating out of the Alpes Maritimes. Since he's going to be based not far from where a cousin of Troy's lives -- a cousin she's neve For once not a mystery from Marsh but a ripping yarn -- a ripping yarn about cults, drug trafficking, muddled identities and general derring-do. There's a mystery element in the tale, to be sure, but it very much takes the back seat in what's otherwise a romp. The Yard's Roderick Alleyn is being lent to the Sûreté to help nail an international drug-trafficking gang operating out of the Alpes Maritimes. Since he's going to be based not far from where a cousin of Troy's lives -- a cousin she's never met but with whom she's corresponded -- it seems like a good idea to take Troy and six-year-old Ricky along so as to mix business with something of a vacation. The first sign that this plan might not work out too well comes when their train is approaching its destination. Peering out into the early-morning gloom, Alleyn sees, through the lighted window of a chateau next to the tracks, what looks like a murder being committed. Turns out that's the very chateau his bosses are hoping he'll be able to infiltrate, because it's the HQ of a seedy cult linked to the drugs gang. That's coincidence number one. Coincidence number two -- the sudden taking-ill of a fellow passenger on the train -- is enough to gain Alleyn the kind of entree to the chateau, and the cult, that he could have only dreamed of. I'm normally not too much of a fan of coincidence-driven plotting, but the ones here seem just on the right side of the plausible/risible boundary: if these two coincidences happened in real life we'd remark on them with interest, but we wouldn't be completely flabbergasted. Another part of the plotting that might trouble some minds arises because, quite clearly, Marsh knew nothing about the effects of marijuana: she seems to have thought they were much the same as those of, say, cocaine and heroin. The glue that keeps the cult together is that its leaders take pains to get the acolytes addicted to reefers, and one of those acolytes talks about how her habit has come completely to control her actions -- she'll do anything for the next fix of marijuana, in other words. To which all one can say is: Yeah, right. As with the coincidences, this doesn't really matter. If we assume the cult leader has spiked the reefers with something harder, then the rest fits in well enough. Besides, this is an adventure romp we're reading, not John le Carré. There's a lot of Marsh's trademark humor here; I laughed aloud several times. Aside from the occasional urge to smack the precocious young Ricky upside the head, I rollicked through Spinsters in Jeopardy with a grin on my face, even during the occasional moments of high tension.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I'm currently reading through the Ngaio Marsh Roderick Alleyn mysteries in order for a challenge with the Reading the Detectives group on Goodreads. Although I'm enjoying them, some have become a bit samey - but that could never be said about this one, which is a completely bonkers thriller. It's one of the capers involving gangs, chases and glamorous locations which many Golden Age detective authors also wrote. Alleyn, wife Troy and their unbelievably perfect and precocious six-year-old son Rick I'm currently reading through the Ngaio Marsh Roderick Alleyn mysteries in order for a challenge with the Reading the Detectives group on Goodreads. Although I'm enjoying them, some have become a bit samey - but that could never be said about this one, which is a completely bonkers thriller. It's one of the capers involving gangs, chases and glamorous locations which many Golden Age detective authors also wrote. Alleyn, wife Troy and their unbelievably perfect and precocious six-year-old son Ricky, making his first appearance in the series, decide to go on a holiday to France. Well, actually it isn't completely a holiday, since Alleyn is being sent there on the trail of a fiendish drug gang. But he thinks it will be easy enough to combine sightseeing with exposing desperate criminals. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, there is a desperately ill British passenger on the train, and the Alleyns have to help find her medical care. There is also an early plot similarity with a famous element in 4:50 from Paddington - apparently seeing a crime through a train window - but Marsh got there first, as Christie's Miss Marple book was published four years later! The plot soon thickens, involving a bizarre religious cult (not a million miles from previous Alleyn novel Death in Ecstasy), a long-lost cousin of Troy's, and various French characters whose conversation is translated word for word - so for instance they constantly refer to Ricky as "the small one" for "le petit". While I found this an enjoyable romp, the plot is ludicrous and completely unbelievable, there is very little element of mystery, and I really don't think Marsh does capers as well as some other writers, such as Allingham. The adorable Ricky is also pretty insufferable, despite being amusing. And there's some stereotyping of both "spinsters" and Egyptian characters, which is disquieting although of its time. (view spoiler)[And, as pointed out in other GR reviews, Marsh doesn't seem to have much knowledge of marijuana ("reefers"), as she thinks it turns people into desperate addicts and makes them so "high" they will be ready to take part in bizarre sexual ceremonies! (hide spoiler)]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    3.5 stars for me I liked the interplay of Alleyn and Troy with their 6-year old Ricky and then their train journey meant to be part work for Alleyn at request of Sûreté and British Intelligence as well as a wee vacation for wife and child. Troy had received strange letters from a distant cousin she had never heard of, and since the town Alleyn had to visit on work matched with this cousin's location, it was thought to be serendipity. First clue that things were not going to be peaceful came from w 3.5 stars for me I liked the interplay of Alleyn and Troy with their 6-year old Ricky and then their train journey meant to be part work for Alleyn at request of Sûreté and British Intelligence as well as a wee vacation for wife and child. Troy had received strange letters from a distant cousin she had never heard of, and since the town Alleyn had to visit on work matched with this cousin's location, it was thought to be serendipity. First clue that things were not going to be peaceful came from what both Troy and Alleyn observed from their separate sleeping compartments on the journey. Alleyn meant to pull off his investigation of what was going on at this imposing house on the cliffs of Côte d'Azur without sharing his intent, but needs must. It was a murder they both observed from the train. Additional speed bump complicating their holiday was coming to the aid of a woman passenger who very obviously needed urgent medical care. All these circumstances converge, giving Alleyn entry to the massive house since the only doctor available is on one of his visitations to this place of contemplation, indoctrination of exotic cult teachings and easy access to weed whilst managing drug trafficking. Can we say Whaaaaat? But it gets worse, believe me. I couldn't enjoy the plot device of having their young son kidnapped. Had it been taken seriously I may have even discarded the book without finishing, but it was so casually treated by Alleyn had it been presented on stage more than one tomato would have been thrown. Kidnapping children is a topic I avoid whenever forewarned. Anyway...as far as pentagram meetings in flowing robes go, naked men who exalt themselves in archaic rituals for the adoration of spinsters who really only want the smokes, there were some moments of comic relief. I have not read the books in order, wasn't there for wedding/birth, etc. Eventually I will catch up as long as I can get these nice clean paperbacks at my library. It was good entertainment, just not my favorite of what I have read so far. I did enjoy meeting Ricky.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I don't know that the 17th book in any series can really be expected to be one of the best ones, so I'm not really sure what I was thinking here. Other than this: When I was a kid, probably about 10 years old, Agatha Christie was my favorite writer. Marsh is often compared to Christie, and I thought Spinsters in Jeopardy was the most delicious title imaginable. (I also really liked old ladies, I don't know what that was about. I was a weird kid.) Anyway, I tried to read it several times, but I th I don't know that the 17th book in any series can really be expected to be one of the best ones, so I'm not really sure what I was thinking here. Other than this: When I was a kid, probably about 10 years old, Agatha Christie was my favorite writer. Marsh is often compared to Christie, and I thought Spinsters in Jeopardy was the most delicious title imaginable. (I also really liked old ladies, I don't know what that was about. I was a weird kid.) Anyway, I tried to read it several times, but I thought Spinsters was impenetrable. I was pretty confident in my ability to get through it as an adult, but I will certainly admit that I see what was so confusing to Little Me. Here's the set-up: Inspector Alleyn has been invited to investigate shady dealings at a remote French chateau. Coincidentally, his wife has started to receive letters from a long-lost relation who lives in the same village. Coincidentally, on the train to this village, Alleyn and his wife happen to (separately) look out their windows in the middle of the night and witness a murder in a window the train is passing! Coincidentally, this is the same chateau Alleyn has been sent to investigate. Coincidentally, an elderly woman on the train suffers a burst appendix and there are no doctors in the village because of a convention... but a guest at the shady chateau is a doctor, so viola! Alleyn and his wife bring their kid and accompany the ill woman to this den of satanism and reefer madness. Seriously, WTF. I should also mention that Alleyn, his wife, Troy, and their son all speak with a veddy British, sometimes tongue-in-cheek (I think?) formality that makes them seem even more artificial than their extremely unlikely circumstances. So this book stunk, right? Not entirely. Some of the dialogue is pretty good, sidekick Raoul is quite dashing, and -surprisingly- some of the jokes land. I might read another.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I've enjoyed reading the Inspector Alleyn mysteries by Ngaio Marsh very much. I've read the first few in order but I've also jumped around a bit in the series. A case in point being my latest, Spinsters in Jeopardy which is the 17th book in the series. I guess it's probably somewhat important to read the series in order as you do get to see how Alleyn's relationship with artist, Agatha Troy develops. I was a bit surprised to find that the duo now have a son. But having said that, the stories als I've enjoyed reading the Inspector Alleyn mysteries by Ngaio Marsh very much. I've read the first few in order but I've also jumped around a bit in the series. A case in point being my latest, Spinsters in Jeopardy which is the 17th book in the series. I guess it's probably somewhat important to read the series in order as you do get to see how Alleyn's relationship with artist, Agatha Troy develops. I was a bit surprised to find that the duo now have a son. But having said that, the stories also stand very well on their own. In Spinsters, we see our intrepid family on a 'vacation' in southern France, ostensibly visiting a long lost relative of Troy's. On the train journey to Roqueville, as the train approaches the city, both Alleyn and Troy see what appears to be an act of violence from their train compartment. On arrival in Roqueville, they are also thrown into a dire situation, as one of the passengers, an elderly woman, Miss Truebody, has a problem with her appendix and must see a doctor immediately. Fortunately, while all of the local doctors are away at a conference, there is an Egyptian doctor at the villa, which the train just passed and the family brings Miss Truebody there. Now Alleyn isn't exactly on vacation, he is instead working with la Surete to find a drug smuggling ring working in the area. So, there is lots going on here. Alleyn must try to remain somewhat incognito as he visits la Chevre de l'Argent (the silver goat), as there appear to be people there who know both he and Troy. He must keep his family safe from the strange goings on at the chateau, while still investigating. There is more going on than just drug smuggling, maybe> For an Alleyn mystery, there is considerable action. There are great characters, Alleyn, Troy (nice to see her playing a bigger role) and Ricky, their young son. As well, you have the inestimable Raoul, Alleyn's driver who is so much assistance. And of course, suitable villain abound. It's an interesting, quick moving story and one of the more entertaining Alleyn mysteries. (4 stars)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    Very much default three stars. This one is a mixed bag. I hate kidnapping in general, but I especially hate child kidnappings. Very much not on board for the kidnapping of Troy and Alleyn's young son. I always like the Troy/Alleyn dynamic, but on the other hand I'm not sure I entirely buy their reactions to the kidnapping of their son (Troy's is more realistic). Also, Ricky Alleyn is far too much of an overly precocious child, who often does not sound like any child I have ever heard. But then, pe Very much default three stars. This one is a mixed bag. I hate kidnapping in general, but I especially hate child kidnappings. Very much not on board for the kidnapping of Troy and Alleyn's young son. I always like the Troy/Alleyn dynamic, but on the other hand I'm not sure I entirely buy their reactions to the kidnapping of their son (Troy's is more realistic). Also, Ricky Alleyn is far too much of an overly precocious child, who often does not sound like any child I have ever heard. But then, perhaps that's hereditary, because I had issues with Alleyn's dialogue in the early books... Also, this one was really quite sinister, with the creepy cult, and the drug connections. The whole thing felt very over the top. Not at all what I was in the mood for. But then, it almost redeems itself in the ridiculousness that is the last half of the last chapter. (Troy's second cousin refers to them as Cousin Roddy and Cousin Aggie in her head! Snicker.) So yeah, on the plus side we had Alleyn family dynamics, and the completely hilarious ending, on the minus side, the kidnapping, the sense of menace and the creep-factor. I really can't make up my mind about it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nanosynergy

    Shades of Agatha Christi's 4:50 from Paddington and Hitchcock's 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Perhaps Agatha Troy could have broken out singing Que Sera, Sera while they hunted for little "Ricky" (Hank). Nothing like a mystery involving the rescue of several traveling 'spinsters' involving from the fat evil guy who starts a cult which is a cover for an international drug ring. Shades of Agatha Christi's 4:50 from Paddington and Hitchcock's 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Perhaps Agatha Troy could have broken out singing Que Sera, Sera while they hunted for little "Ricky" (Hank). Nothing like a mystery involving the rescue of several traveling 'spinsters' involving from the fat evil guy who starts a cult which is a cover for an international drug ring.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Oh for heavens' sake! I agree with the reefer madness references in other reviews (and I have, indeed, seen that very silly movie). Now that marijuana is legal, I can state without fear of arrest that "reefers" absolutely have no such effect or addiction potential. So there. :-) I really like this one--one of my favorites; it's just fun. Love Ricky. Oh for heavens' sake! I agree with the reefer madness references in other reviews (and I have, indeed, seen that very silly movie). Now that marijuana is legal, I can state without fear of arrest that "reefers" absolutely have no such effect or addiction potential. So there. :-) I really like this one--one of my favorites; it's just fun. Love Ricky.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sunsettowers

    While I prefer her English manor home murders, I love anything Ngaio Marsh writes, including when she just goes for the crazy and fully embraces it like she does in this book. Here, her intrepid detective and his family come into close and dangerous contact with a cult. Mistaken identities, kidnappings, and goat statues all come into play, and it is a fun wild ride.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    It's rather hard to give a Ngaio Marsh a middling (much less a low) rating; this was overwrought, racist, sexist, fat-shaming twaddle ... but it was very well-written twaddle. The family bits - even, remarkably, the bits about Alleyn's son Ricky - were lovely; character bits in general were lovely. Which is surprising to me because generally the appearance on the scene of a little boy with quite a bit of dialogue is going to be a death knell for a book - especially an audiobook. But Nadia May's It's rather hard to give a Ngaio Marsh a middling (much less a low) rating; this was overwrought, racist, sexist, fat-shaming twaddle ... but it was very well-written twaddle. The family bits - even, remarkably, the bits about Alleyn's son Ricky - were lovely; character bits in general were lovely. Which is surprising to me because generally the appearance on the scene of a little boy with quite a bit of dialogue is going to be a death knell for a book - especially an audiobook. But Nadia May's narration is terrific, even including the kid. Descriptions are very good. The whole kidnapping plot and its resolution was realistic and excellently done. But the whole cult thing was strongly reminiscent of "Death in Ecstasy" - which is funny, because Alleyn's thoughts even reference the events of that book a couple of times. I haven't read it in years, but I still kept thinking "But didn't she already do this?" Also, the thought of that little goat figurine is disturbing, luminescing away in the chubby clutch of a little boy, probably painted with radioluminescent paint which will kill Ricky eventually ... And wow, does Ngaio Marsh come off as hating fat people and spinsters. Since I happen to be both, I'm not over-fond of this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    Reminiscent of Agatha Christie's 4:50 from Paddington, police Inspector Roderick Alleyn catches a glimpse of what he believes to be a murder through a train window as he passes a villa. He, wife Troy and their young son Ricky are en route to the French Riviera for a much-needed holiday. Ah, an inspector can never take a vacation from crime -- especially when Ricky goes missing in an attempt to dissuade Alleyn and Troy from investigating Chateau of the Silver Goat, the scene of the crime. But can Reminiscent of Agatha Christie's 4:50 from Paddington, police Inspector Roderick Alleyn catches a glimpse of what he believes to be a murder through a train window as he passes a villa. He, wife Troy and their young son Ricky are en route to the French Riviera for a much-needed holiday. Ah, an inspector can never take a vacation from crime -- especially when Ricky goes missing in an attempt to dissuade Alleyn and Troy from investigating Chateau of the Silver Goat, the scene of the crime. But can the Alleyns prove that? And how do they find their son? The sunlit Mediterranean setting and a mostly clever plot rescues this 17th entry in the Roderick Alleyn mystery series from its implausible ending. It was also nice to see Troy front and center, although not to the extent that she was in Final Curtain. Definitely worth reading despite the cultic mumbo-jumbo.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bicky

    Instead of writing a detective story, Marsh decided to write a thriller but with the same hero. She does a poor job. Roderick Alleyn, a well known DCI, is sent to France in an an undercover role where he is likely to meet people from his own social circle. For some reason, he takes along his wife Troy, a famous painter, and their six year old son. Unbelievable. Very avoidable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    FangirlNation

    The Alleyns take a family trip, with Troy and Ricky joining Rory Alleyn in the South of France in Ngaio Marsh's Spinsters in Jeopardy. They find themselves in a situation where Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn gets sent by MI-5 to look into how drugs are entering into England. But also, in Roqueville, near the location of the chateau where Alleyn is to be sent, Troy has an eccentric third cousin once removed, Moinsieur Garbel, who has been sending her strange letters, complete with used The Alleyns take a family trip, with Troy and Ricky joining Rory Alleyn in the South of France in Ngaio Marsh's Spinsters in Jeopardy. They find themselves in a situation where Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn gets sent by MI-5 to look into how drugs are entering into England. But also, in Roqueville, near the location of the chateau where Alleyn is to be sent, Troy has an eccentric third cousin once removed, Moinsieur Garbel, who has been sending her strange letters, complete with used train tickets and details of his chemistry work. So the Alleyns determine to break their rule against combining Rory's work with family activities and choose to take the trip to the South of France together. Read the rest of this review and other fun, geeky articles at Fangirl Nation

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    So bad! In so many ways! From the preposterous sequence of coincidences that stagger the plot forward, to poor Ms. Marsh's stunning lack of imagination of what the drug trade might look like, there is really no excuse for her agent, publisher, SOMEONE not talking her out of publishing it. At least they played fair enough to give us a hint in the title that all was not well. Two stars instead of one because, jeez, nice Ngaio Marsh, nice Roderick Alleyn, his rather timid and formal little boy -- th So bad! In so many ways! From the preposterous sequence of coincidences that stagger the plot forward, to poor Ms. Marsh's stunning lack of imagination of what the drug trade might look like, there is really no excuse for her agent, publisher, SOMEONE not talking her out of publishing it. At least they played fair enough to give us a hint in the title that all was not well. Two stars instead of one because, jeez, nice Ngaio Marsh, nice Roderick Alleyn, his rather timid and formal little boy -- they're hard to pan because they're pretty well realized, and carry in cred from the other, better books in the series, and the writing is pretty good from sentence to sentence. Also, there is a certain trainwreck fascination in watching an exercise in fiction quite this clumsy nonetheless touch all the bases and cross the finish line, an undeniably whole and complete novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan Teder

    Alleyn on the Trail of Cults & Drugs Review of the Fontana paperback edition (1983) of the 1954 original There isn't any mystery investigation here as the villains are known from the outset. CID Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is on loan to the French Sûreté to investigate a suspected drugs gang in their chateau / castle base. As a distant relative of his artist wife Agatha Troy lives nearby they use the opportunity of a family vacation as a cover story to explain Alleyn's presence in the vicinity Alleyn on the Trail of Cults & Drugs Review of the Fontana paperback edition (1983) of the 1954 original There isn't any mystery investigation here as the villains are known from the outset. CID Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is on loan to the French Sûreté to investigate a suspected drugs gang in their chateau / castle base. As a distant relative of his artist wife Agatha Troy lives nearby they use the opportunity of a family vacation as a cover story to explain Alleyn's presence in the vicinity. A medical emergency by a fellow passenger on their train gets them entrance to the chateau. Various perils and escapes ensue. The drugs gang is also part of a satanic ritual cult just to add further evil-doings to the proceedings. This was more of an adventure story than a mystery puzzle for Alleyn to solve, which made it only a so-so outing for the series. This was part of my current re-read project of works from the Golden Age of Crime of which many are still in my collection after first being read in the 1970s and 1980s.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adam Carson

    A very different sort of Roderick Alleyn book by Marsh than the others of hers that I’ve read. Alleyn and his wife are on holiday in the south of France, as a cover for the work he’s doing with the sûreté. It’s starts with a murder seen from a train window, there’s drugs barons, child kidnap, coded letters, undercover missions and a smattering of witchcraft. There’s certainly a lot going on here, but it works - most of all because the amount of Alleyn, his wife and son and the exploration of the A very different sort of Roderick Alleyn book by Marsh than the others of hers that I’ve read. Alleyn and his wife are on holiday in the south of France, as a cover for the work he’s doing with the sûreté. It’s starts with a murder seen from a train window, there’s drugs barons, child kidnap, coded letters, undercover missions and a smattering of witchcraft. There’s certainly a lot going on here, but it works - most of all because the amount of Alleyn, his wife and son and the exploration of their relationship. In parts, it could probably have done with a little editing - its fast pace is let down a bit by some dragging bits. But, that doesn’t effect the overall enjoyment - this was a great, fun read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wendi Wanders

    I listened to the audio, done by Nadia May. I always love Marsh's friendly characters, and am quite fond of Troy, so I thoroughly enjoyed this, excepting a few scenes. But it really ought not to be the next read for somebody who is just beginning to read Marsh, because the themes of gangs and unspeakable secret rituals does not show her at her very best. I listened to the audio, done by Nadia May. I always love Marsh's friendly characters, and am quite fond of Troy, so I thoroughly enjoyed this, excepting a few scenes. But it really ought not to be the next read for somebody who is just beginning to read Marsh, because the themes of gangs and unspeakable secret rituals does not show her at her very best.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed with this one. It dragged endlessly, the main mystery took a back seat for most of the story, such that it's easy to forget about it entirely. This one didn't capture my attention like other Alleyn mysteries have. I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed with this one. It dragged endlessly, the main mystery took a back seat for most of the story, such that it's easy to forget about it entirely. This one didn't capture my attention like other Alleyn mysteries have.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie Lashbrook

    3.5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This entry in the series has a lot of Troy (and little Ricky) which I liked but was less of a mystery than a suspense/thriller.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Francine

    Barely 3*. It is not Mrs. Marsh best book in the Inspector Alleyn Series. There are also too many coincidences to make the story believable. I found the child kidnaping completely ridiculous in its treatment. There were many hilarious pearls buried in this book and the finale takes the prize, hence the 3*.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Spinsters in Jeopardy (1953; aka The Bride of Death) is one of the most bizarre books by Ngaio Marsh. Here we have England sending one of its most celebrated Scotland Yard detectives "undercover" to infiltrate a drug ring. And, as if that's not enough, he's going to take along his wife who is just as celebrated (or perhaps more so) in her own right as an artist. To make everything look like a totally legit family vacay, we'll throw in an incredibly precocious six-year-old son as well. On top of Spinsters in Jeopardy (1953; aka The Bride of Death) is one of the most bizarre books by Ngaio Marsh. Here we have England sending one of its most celebrated Scotland Yard detectives "undercover" to infiltrate a drug ring. And, as if that's not enough, he's going to take along his wife who is just as celebrated (or perhaps more so) in her own right as an artist. To make everything look like a totally legit family vacay, we'll throw in an incredibly precocious six-year-old son as well. On top of this ludicrous set-up, we have coincidences galore...Troy's mysterious cousin just happens to be working at the factory which is producing the drugs. The cousin is also in the inner circle of Mr. Oberon, leader of the cult which serves as a cover for the thriving heroin business. A spinster (one of those who wind up in jeopardy) on the train out to Rouqueville falls deathly ill and, having no friends or relations with her and none in the immediate vicinity, Alleyn and family take her under their wing and manage to use her as an entree to the cult's home base. Because, of course, there is a spectacular surgeon who's part of Oberon's entourage and he can save the day for the spinster. Then...it winds up that Carbury Glande, a fellow painter who's bound to recognize Troy and blow the gaff in a most disastrous way, is also part of the entourage. Only he doesn't--blow the gaff, that is. How fortunate that he doesn't know that Troy has married a celebrated policeman. Though how he could not, is beyond me. Maybe he forgot. And...Marsh seems to be trying to stuff every conceivable bit of criminal activity into this book that she can: murder, gangs, kidnapping, drug producing, drug pushing, drug taking, and maybe even a bit of fraud since the cult is definitely not what it claims to be. It's no wonder I read this just once before (back in the mists of time when I was reading my way through all the mysteries in my home town library) and never had a desire to read it again until I joined up for the Ngaio Marsh Reading Challenge on Goodreads. Though--to be fair, I don't really remember thinking it was quite such a mess the first time I read it. It just seems to me that Marsh couldn't settle down to what kind of story she wanted to tell. Thriller? International drug ring? Murder viewed from a train? Charismatic figure leading cult members into a life of crime? Oh...why don't we just do it all! There were some bright points--mostly in characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Raoul and Therese in supporting roles and Troy and Alleyn are delightful as usual excepting a few scenes with them as parents. I don't think Marsh writes parenting scenes well consistently. To be quite honest, she could have left Ricky out of the story altogether and it would have suited me better. And, seriously, what policeman going undercover into a possibly dangerous situation would take along their six-year-old? Definitely not one of Marsh's best novels. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting. Thanks.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nell

    Another glimpse of Alleyn's family life, this time with the addition of young son Ricky. I wonder what happened to Alleyn's mother? Another glimpse of Alleyn's family life, this time with the addition of young son Ricky. I wonder what happened to Alleyn's mother?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anirban

    This was my second Ngaio Marsh book, featuring British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. There were two aspects in this book that struck me as out of ordinary for a Marsh novel. 1.There were no references to the theater and play. The plot was without any connection to the stage. Most of her works are very much related to the stage, as her greatest passion was theater. 2.This was not a whodunnit, this was much more, a thriller, where the good and the bad were defined and segregated from the first cha This was my second Ngaio Marsh book, featuring British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. There were two aspects in this book that struck me as out of ordinary for a Marsh novel. 1.There were no references to the theater and play. The plot was without any connection to the stage. Most of her works are very much related to the stage, as her greatest passion was theater. 2.This was not a whodunnit, this was much more, a thriller, where the good and the bad were defined and segregated from the first chapter. So, the element of mystery was sadly missing. The first point never bothered me, because I like mysteries and I never care whether they are set on the stage or on the streets. And, just because of this I was a bit disappointed with this book. Frankly speaking, when it comes to a thriller, it must have a lot of THRILLING moments in it. And, sadly, that was very much missing. The book had its own pace, but it wasn’t enough for a thriller. There were hardly any THRILLING moments, which would put you on the edge of your seat. The sedate pace was perfect for a whodunnit, which the book was not. However, there are no complaints regarding the characterization. The characters were well developed; and the language reflected the setting of the story, which was in France. Not the best to come out from the pen of Dame Marsh, her other works are better, and that’s what made her one of “Golden Age's Queens of Crime”.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Silvio111

    The book is great. But the audio book (narrated by Nadia May) made my skin crawl. I just cannot stand that woman's voice and mannerisms. Does anyone else feel that way? She sounds like her mouth is full of mashed potatoes. (I suppose that is what the adjective "plummy" refers to, but in her case it is not about social class; it is just her enunciation.) I looked up other Ngaio Marsh audiobooks and was relieved that at least one-third of them are read by other actors. Sorry to be negative! I just wan The book is great. But the audio book (narrated by Nadia May) made my skin crawl. I just cannot stand that woman's voice and mannerisms. Does anyone else feel that way? She sounds like her mouth is full of mashed potatoes. (I suppose that is what the adjective "plummy" refers to, but in her case it is not about social class; it is just her enunciation.) I looked up other Ngaio Marsh audiobooks and was relieved that at least one-third of them are read by other actors. Sorry to be negative! I just want to add (and I don't know why I didn't mention it earlier) that I found the depiction of the dynamic between little Ricky and his parents rather trying. I don't know if this is because of narrator Nadia May's irritating voice (described above). But I was surprised that an account of raising a child (in England, no less) in the early 20th century shows us such a demanding and needy (if highly intelligent) little boy. Most of the time my reaction was "send the kid outside to play; he does not need the attention of his parents every goddamned minute of the day and night!" (Of course, then he gets kidnapped, so that puts me right in my place.) Perhaps it was progressive of Marsh to portray the Alleyn family as being so connected. No sending little Ricky off to boarding school at the age of 7! Am I the only one who had all my buttons pushed by this kid? (Maybe I am possessive of Alleyn's attention...)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This case takes Alleyn, with wife and son tagging along, to the French Riviera, where he gets mixed up with a strange cult and someone kidnaps his son. A local man, Raoul, takes the role of sidekick (normally held by Fox who doesn't appear at all) in this story. This was a good mystery, and I enjoyed it. My main quibble with the book is that the bad guys didn't have the complexity that I have come to expect from Marsh which made the novel less interesting. There was also very little question of This case takes Alleyn, with wife and son tagging along, to the French Riviera, where he gets mixed up with a strange cult and someone kidnaps his son. A local man, Raoul, takes the role of sidekick (normally held by Fox who doesn't appear at all) in this story. This was a good mystery, and I enjoyed it. My main quibble with the book is that the bad guys didn't have the complexity that I have come to expect from Marsh which made the novel less interesting. There was also very little question of "who done it," the story was more a matter of proving what was already known by Alleyn. The other issue I had with the novel was the fact that there are these weird "purely evil" ceremonies which are referred to but we don't know what actually happened. This may have been the propriety of the times in which the book was written (1954), but it was distracting and made some of the plot construction rather awkward.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lise Petrauskas

    What to say about this one? I might be burned out since I was on a binge and this was my fourth. Marsh excels when she's dealing with the in-the-moment descriptions and thoughts of her main characters. Through the minds of Troy and Alleyn, she is dry and funny and creates a vivid scene in the reader's mind. Unfortunately, some of the situations are far-fetched and stretch my willing suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. This was another book chock full of stereotypes and stock character What to say about this one? I might be burned out since I was on a binge and this was my fourth. Marsh excels when she's dealing with the in-the-moment descriptions and thoughts of her main characters. Through the minds of Troy and Alleyn, she is dry and funny and creates a vivid scene in the reader's mind. Unfortunately, some of the situations are far-fetched and stretch my willing suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. This was another book chock full of stereotypes and stock characters with absurd, cartoonish speeches and unbelievably simplistic motivations.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    A very disappointing book--not up to the usual Marsh standards.

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