• Death in a White Tie

  • By: Ngaio Marsh
  • Narrated by: James Saxon
  • Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (269 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The London season has begun. But while debutantes and chaperones plan their luncheons and balls a deadly blackmailer is stalking the highest echelons of society.

Naturally, it falls to charming, aloof Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn - son of Lady Alleyn - to investigate the case. He has already planted his close friend Lord Robert at the scene. But someone else got to him first....

Death in a White Tie was first published in 1938 and is perhaps the finest of Marsh's 1930s novels - elegantly constructed, witty and marvellously entertaining.

Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.

©1938 Original Text of 1938 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The brilliant Ngaio Marsh ranks with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers." (Times Literary Supplement)

"Ngaio Marsh’s Death in a White Tie is the best detective story I have ever read...." (Dashiell Hammett)

"[This audiobook has] a distinction that puts the author in the front rank of crime story writers." (Times Literary Supplement)

What listeners say about Death in a White Tie

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrible sound quality ruins the experience

Ngaio Marsh and Inspector Alleyn are as reliable as ever in this mystery, and I don't feel much need to review the story itself. If you enjoy Ngaio Marsh novels, include this in your reading, it's a no brainer. Unfortunately this narrator is not so great, and the sound quality of the recording is atrocious, which makes this overall a mixed review.

First of all, the narrator James Saxon does a good enough job of speaking clearly and getting pauses, inflections, and pronunciations correct. And he does possess the capacity for a wide range of character voices. But he's not disciplined enough in their use to make it a great rading. As noted by others, he is hit and miss about giving the characters distinctive voices consistently, and the accent of one character often bleeds into surrounding prose or even other characters' lines. So, when you have a choice among narrators for a Ngaio Marsh title, I would definitely recommend Nadia May over James Saxon, and Philip Franks did a frankly masterful job on the title he narrated.

Finally, the recording quality here is downright atrocious. It's not just a matter of some general noisiness common to 90s-era and earlier audiobooks that were recorded or archived on tape. That's annoying, but one gets past it relatively quickly.

In the case of this book however, chapter by chapter there are variations in volume levels, background hiss, and recording quality. Some chapters sound like a 70s-era cassette recording of a 30s era radio broadcast. Even then, if the quality were consistently bad, it would be one thing, but it jumps around and every time it gets worse, you get more annoyed. This is just plain bad product, and that makes it all the more enraging that Audible is charging a premium price.

I expect an $18 audiobook to be a new recording, or a really excellent older recording. But this is just terrible, and Audible shouldn't be charging more than five bucks for it.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very Poor Recording Quality

The book was good but the recordings itself was so poor it was hard to enjoy. I had to listen to the entire recording at three-quarter speed in order to distinguish the words. Disappointing.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One of my favorites; terrible sound in place

For me, Ngaio Marsh's early books, where Roderick Alleyn and later Agatha Troy are more involved in the story, not just the investigation, are the best. Alleyn investigates the murder of a close friend and during the case meets Troy again. Their romance is a subdued but satisfying part of the story.

Normally I enjoy James Saxon's reading but at times his transition between characters was not clear. This made it hard at times to tell who was speaking, especially in scenes between Alleyn and Troy.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Horrible audio quality - totally disappointed

I love Ngaio Marsh and couldn't wait to listen to this. However, the narrator sounds like he recorded the audio through a door or something. Scratchy, distant, and muffled. I hope the others aren't like this. The previous books with the same narrator have been great.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A Waltz With a Side of Murder

Is there anything you would change about this book?

It's a typically good Ngaio Marsh with plenty of red herrings and an "interlude for romance" between Alleyn and his beloved Troy.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the character of Lord Robert and determination with which Alleyn pursued the murderer.

What didn’t you like about James Saxon’s performance?

There wasn't much differentiation between characters and it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. This was hampered by an overall problem with volume levels. From chapter to chapter, and occasionally within chapters, the sound varied to the point where I had to turn the volume up or down at least 4 levels.

Could you see Death in a White Tie being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

It has already been beautiful done by the BBC as part of the Mystery series. I highly recommend it, especially the wonderful Harold Innocent as Lord Robert.

Any additional comments?

A good story but the sound quality made it hard to enjoy. I'd recommend the abridged version featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. You miss some of the characters and plot, but the performance is outstanding.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Horrid sound, good mystery

Wow, the production on the recording is so amateurish. Sound quality jumps from just bad to "talking through cans on a string" bad. I'm returning this one because the sound quality is so bad. I hope it gets cleaned up and if it does I will re-purchase it.

2 people found this helpful

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Dreadful sound quality

At times tinny to the point of sounding like an old-time radio broadcast, I suspect this recording was cobbled together from two different readings. I do not recommend this audiobook, even though the mystery itself was good. Save your money and read the book instead.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very disappointing narration and production values

As with all Ngaio Marsh mysteries, the story is excellent. The disappointment begins at the beginning of the book when we first hear the narrator's voice. Very little difference between one the sound of one character and another; his attempt at an American accent was awful; not good at distinguishing between the male and female characters. His Lord Robert reading was terrible.

Also terrible were the production values. Volume fluctuated wildly, as did speed. Very disconcerting. If I hadn't liked the story so much, I wouldn't have bothered to finish listening. Hoping they can get Philip Franks to do a new recording.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Distracting sound recording

The quality of the sound is awful. Aside from that, this isn't James Saxon's best performance. The female voices are awful. I love the story though. I would return this audiobook, unfortunately, Audible won't allow this despite having bought a Gold subscription.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Awful recording

Great story, and I *think* I enjoyed one of the narrators, but it’s hard to say since there were at least 2 (if not more). The recording would jump between a seemingly up-to-date quality, and then to an old-timey radio recording (with other mid-range quality recordings interspersed). I eventually got used to it, but it frustrates me greatly that I PAID for this audible book. I have borrowed recorded books from the library website that have had far better recordings.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Arthur
  • 12-15-15

Terrible recording

It appeared to be a splicing together of several recordings. The EQ was terrible. I'm places inaudible.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-17-19

Changeable sound quality

Unfortunately James Saxon’s performance is marred by regular differences in sound quality which spoiled the listening experience.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda S.
  • 02-20-16

Mono quality audio

Trying to get refund as this audio is terrible quality. It sounds very tinny and mono.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-11-21

Brilliant character portrayal by James Saxon

I agree with other reviewers that the audio quality is frequently very bad, but James Saxon embodies the large and varied cast of characters so completely that it is worth the extra effort. His skill with accents and his sensitivity to quirks of personality brings everyone to life as sympathetic, complex human beings. Saxon died tragically young, so the audio can’t be redone, but I’m really glad this reading is still available because it is a great listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • taylor
  • 04-11-19

Love the book

Excellent book but the sound quality isn’t good which is annoying.
James Saxon is the best narrator possible

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gadfly 23
  • 09-14-22

read the novel -but don't listen to this audiobook

This is a fantastic story ruined by terrible, truly terrible sound quality.
I suspect it was originally on cassette tape because of periodic dramatic differences in sound reproduction. In some parts it isn't too bad but that just lulls the listener into a false sense of security and shortly the shock of what you have paid good money will hit you.
The narration would be adequate if it wasn't for the overall sound disaster. Mr Saxon is ok. His regional accents can vary from convincing to quite laughable, sometimes within the same sentence. I am glad there weren't New Zealand accents as in a preceding audiobook. Younger women aren't his strong point but I am possibly a little harsh - once one's teeth are set on edge by the sound quality it becomes very easy to be critical.
The writing is extraordinary, finely nuanced, well paced and a beautiful example of one of the queens' of the golden age of crime writing on the top of her form.

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  • esther curry
  • 07-29-22

Great listen well read

Storyline well maintained loved the characters, narrators voice suited the time period . Will definitely spend another few hours with Ngaio Marsh audiobook

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David W.
  • 12-12-21

Good story but really poor audio quality

Really like this book but the audio at times sounds like it's coming from a 1920's telephone.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. H. Cross
  • 12-03-21

Shame About The Recording Quality

I love the Inspector Alleyn stories, which are well written, engaging, and often has you guessing until the last minute. To me, this is the first novel that really has deep personal involvement in the Inspector's private life, with the murder of a friend, his unrequited love, and the challenge of having to interrogate his own social circle.

James Saxon reads these novels well, adds character and depth to the different parts, and brings the stories alive.

What drags this down is the recording quality, which changes from what originally appears to be disc by disc, and there are similar issues with other Saxon recordings. One minute you're listening to something that sounds like it's being played through a phone call, then the whole thing seems to have inhaled helium, or has so much static/hiss that you have to double check this is indeed digital!

Someone once gave me a copy of their recordings of these novels from CD, which were fantastic quality. Sort it out, Audible!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-10-21

Good but Complicated Plot

The plot was a little to complicated for comprehension for audio-book listening - two of the characters' names sounded too similar which made the ballroom scenes confusing. Still an enjoyable listen but not my favourite of the 'Alleyn' stories. Well narrated.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-13-18

Good story but sound quality issues

I find the story enjoyable and I like James Saxon’s versions of the Ngaio Marsh stories but I found the quality of this recording not as good as those I’ve listened to previously.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Vanessa Young
  • 09-11-17

One of Marsh's best

i enjoy Ngaio Marsh and this did not disappoint. Saxon is a decent reader but Phillip Franks is better.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-18-21

great story, horrendous sound quality

I'm struggling to listen to this as the recording is so awful, each chapter sounds like its starting in a tin can and by the end its almost usual quality

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Teresa Clark
  • 07-26-17

Inconsistent narration

The narration was very well done except for one thing. When changing chapters, the recording levels varied, not so much volume as the timbre of the voice, sometimes bright other times more rich. A great story and well read and expressed narration.

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