A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

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I have never read any of Ngaio Marsh’s books. She is one of those Golden Age of Mystery/Detective writers who made the genre popular, and so I have decided to read a few of her works. I enjoyed this book a lot, but much of the plot reminded me of The Billiard Room Mystery by Brian Flynn that was written a few years prior to this book. Here we have a festive weekend gathering in which the guests will play the parlor game “Murder” in which one person is designated the killer (in secret), and in a period of time that person must tap someone on the back and tell that person they are dead. The first part of the game ends and the guests must have a trial to determine who is the killer. Sounds like fun, but before the designated killer can act, one of the guests turns up dead with a dagger in his back. Lots to enjoy in this book, but I had a hard time keeping up and remembering who was who since there is not a lot of character development in the book. Also there is a lot of 1930’s corny language in the book which does not help the modern reader. Nonetheless, and despite being able to figure out the real killer early in the book, I like the writing and have a few more of her books to read. I am confident that things will pick up in this series – and for me I always prefer to begin with the first in a series and see how the writer and characters progress.

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