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Publisher's 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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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Good for its type

Ngaio Marsh's writings are somewhat dated now; very similar to Agatha Christie, and I bought this with that knowledge. I still thorougly enjoyed it. The beginning I found a little tedious to the point where I was considering giving up on it; it was all very 'jolly good chappy'. But once Alleyn arrived on the scene it changed into an excellent procedural whodunnit. I read her books in the distant past and always enjoyed this detective. He's likeable and very smart. I was also concerned about the narrator initially.. he felt a little bland at the start but completely won me over as the book progressed; excellent accents and well paced. As with all good whodunnits, you need to keep your wits about you, but Marsh does a good job of reinforcing facts and allowing the clues to unfold. All in all it was an enjoyable bit of nostalgia for me. I felt transported to another time and place, and that has to be one of the signs of a good book.

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An enjoyable period piece

Where does Surfeit of Lampreys rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is an enjoyable audiobook and the narration is very pleasant. I don't think I'd listen to it twice but it passed the time very nicely while I was doing long commutes.

What other book might you compare Surfeit of Lampreys to, and why?

Any other Ngaio Marsh book.

What about Philip Franks’s performance did you like?

Philip Franks can do accents and voices for different characters without making you feel like screaming. There's a dozen or so characters to keep track of which is easy with the very identifiable voices.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A Surfeit of Lampreys and a Plethora of Red Herrings.

Any additional comments?

The story is more than a little dated and the attitudes of the characters are definitely more difficult to understand or find sympathy for in the modern day. At times, despite being assured by the narrator and authorial comment, that these people were utterly charming I found them annoying and entirely culpable for their own problems which jarred a little.

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Good golden age detective mystery.

Would you listen to Surfeit of Lampreys again? Why?

Yes, I enjoy Ngaio Marsh mysteries. I have read the story in book form and there is enough humor and the story is dense enough that it will stand hearing again.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Surfeit of Lampreys?

The opening. The heroine's life is wide open from the start and the reader is never sure what is going to happen to her.

What does Philip Franks bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Phillip Franks is a very pleasant reader, he paces the story perfectly, his different character voices are excellent. You never get the feeling that he is thinking "Oh now I better put on a woman's voice". He is also good at the class distinctions, a very difficult task for modern readers of classic detective fiction of the Marsh, Christie, Sayers type. Many get the voices wrong for any characters who are not 'upper class', as Alleyn is in this book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, when the twins stubbornly stuck together and near the end when Roberta and Henry were trying to process what had happened.

Any additional comments?

If you like Agatha Christie you will enjoy Ngaio Marsh, but if you like gritty realism, or lots of blood and gore, a detective who has a troubled past/personal life and lots of scientific or DNA type evidence then this is probably not for you.

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  • Meep
  • 26-11-2015

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Anita Hagins
  • 16-12-2015

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
  • 24-10-2015

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
  • 08-04-2016

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
  • 04-01-2016

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
  • 31-03-2016

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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  • Helen L.
  • 05-07-2016

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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  • Sarah E. Markey
  • 29-08-2016

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Erika
  • 19-07-2016

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-08-2018

SKIP THE LAMPREYS AUDIO

SURFEIT: YEP. I TRIED AND TRIED TO GET THROUGH THIS AUDIO BOOK AND FINALLY GAVE UP. I LOVE NGAIO MASH, BUT THIS FARCE OF A MYSTERY WAS JUST TOO IRRITATING. UGH. EELS ON MENU WOULD BE BETTER ANYDAY. PERHAPS IT IS BETTER READ?

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  • Jean the Bean
  • 11-12-2016

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • slb
  • 31-10-2016

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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  • Susan B. EvansFlynn
  • 05-11-2019

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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  • Cross Piggy
  • 16-07-2020

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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  • Joanne Wright
  • 29-04-2020

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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  • Libby Hall
  • 07-03-2020

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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  • Sydney
  • 29-01-2019

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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  • eightbirds
  • 12-08-2017

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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  • fotini
  • 16-09-2017

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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