A Grave Mistake

A Grave Mistake A spa stay turns into a homicidal holiday A bit snobbish and a trifle high strung Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener In fact she i

  • Title: A Grave Mistake
  • Author: Ngaio Marsh
  • ISBN: 9780006512301
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Paperback
  • A spa stay turns into a homicidal holiday A bit snobbish and a trifle high strung, Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener In fact, she is rapturous over the new asparagus beds when a visit from her unwelcome stepson sends her scurrying to a chic spa for a rest cure, a liaison with the spa s directordA spa stay turns into a homicidal holiday A bit snobbish and a trifle high strung, Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener In fact, she is rapturous over the new asparagus beds when a visit from her unwelcome stepson sends her scurrying to a chic spa for a rest cure, a liaison with the spa s directord an apparent suicide Her autopsy holds one surprise, a secret drawer a second And Inspector Roderick Alleyn, C.I.D digging about Upper Quintern, may unearth still a thirdeply buried motive for murder.

    One thought on “A Grave Mistake”

    1. Three and a half stars.A cosy village mystery first published in the late 1970's. The village is Upper Quintern and the residents are mostly wealthy with maids and gardeners shared between houses. A Greek multi-millionaire has recently bought one of the local mansions and village gossip ensues.A sudden death occurs and Chief Superintendent Alleyn is called to the village with Inspector Fox in support. They investigate a full cast of lively and likely suspects as they try to restore order to the [...]

    2. 1978, Inspector Alleyn, small village and upper crust-y society; cosy police procedural, classic. Story wonderful, narration poor. When a spoiled and self-indulgent middle-aged woman suddenly dies at a posh “rest hotel”, the initial verdict appears to be suicide. But her many friends swear it was most unlike her, and Alleyn and Fox aren’t comfortable with the case either. Nifty little time-capsule of a story that although set in early 1970s seemed to fit far better in the early 1950s, with [...]

    3. Super promising author. I can't conceal my excitement at the prospect of twenty well written mysteries, and I have no doubt I'll read all of Ms. Marsh's works but this one left me a touch bereft in the end. Without spoiling anything I'll say I figured out the who and the how but not the why. And when it came . . . eh? I don't know, I suppose there are worse motives for killing but it didn't feel terribly true to character. Oh well. Everything else - the period Britishness, the pacing, the humoro [...]

    4. If you like Agatha Christie, you'll enjoy Ngaio Marsh. A good village mystery much like an episode of Midsomer's Murder.

    5. An enjoyable mystery with a fairly dated feel to it but you feel you must try this author if you’ve done Christie and Sayers and others of that ilk. Anyway, I’m a bit dated myself. Though written in 1978 I think it is set earlier. Alleyn, like Peter Wimsey is a gentleman detective.You get to know some of the residents of the village of Upper Quintern where story takes place. A death occurs but this proves to be a false start.When the ‘proper’ death happens there is already a surfeit of s [...]

    6. #30 in the series, and one of my favorites, I think because Marsh returns to her roots and does a marvelous job with a twisty mystery set in an English village with a wealthy hypochondriac widow and the mystery of a fabled stamp lost in a bombing during World War II.

    7. Old Style DetectionIn the mould of Christie but not Christie a gentle stroll through a different England as Alleyn patiently sifts through the evidence in a deceptively leisurely way slowly putting two and two together until they make four. A gentle read but an enjoyable onr.

    8. Even though the narrator pronounced Alleyn as "Elaine" the entire book (which I found annoying and distracting), the mystery was worth listening to.

    9. I liked this one because I got a real surprise near the end; I was looking in the direction that Ngaio Marsh tried to get me to look in, and missed what was actually going on.

    10. I didn't realise until I was part way through, but this was actually a re-read. A very enjoyable plot, nonetheless, one of Ngaio more interesting mysteries; she does so love the "actors and actresses who are always acting and being highly strung" trope.

    11. Originally published on my blog here in September 1999.Grave Mistake was one of Marsh's very last novels, published in the late seventies. It forms part of a group of good novels which she wrote at this period, being one of her best village crime stories. Like most of her other novels, its characters are taken mainly from the English upper classes.When the rich widow Sybil Foster dies in an exclusive nursing home near her home, it at first looks as though she had taken an overdose. But it doesn' [...]

    12. Sybil Foster is rich and lives in a beautiful house which a local millionaire covets. Sybil’s daughter Prunella wants to marry Gideon Markos – the millionaire’s son – but her mother wants her to marry a peer. The aptly named Bruce Gardener has returned to the village to live with his widowed sister and offers his services as a gardener to the locals. Some are not too sure he is trustworthy, others welcome him as a Godsend. Sybil decides she needs a rest and goes off to stay in a hotel wh [...]

    13. I had never read a book by Ngaio Marsh---they are about an Inspector Alleyn, about whom I think I saw a TV show or two, some time ago. Anyway, it was a short and enjoyable mystery. Oddly, I began to fall asleep in the last few pages, when the details of the mystery were being unveiled. Not sure if it was just fatigue (I WAS tired), or if the writing sort of fizzled out. In fact, I have 8 pages left to go, and feel no rush to finish, though I'm still not sure whodunit. I will of course finish it. [...]

    14. While at the local library to pick up a few other books for the family, I wandered through the Mystery section, and was delighted to come across several Ngaio Marsh books. Marsh, along with Tey, Christie, and Sayers, is one of my favorite mystery authors. She and Agatha Christie both were adept at the brief, relatively simple descriptions of people and events that allow the reader to immediately follow the story and get a feel for the characters. Already stayed up late to get stuck in to this on [...]

    15. This was my first exposure to the Inspector Roderick Alleyn mysteries, and friends have told me that it probably wasn't the best one to read "first" (as it is near the end of the 30+ book series). Honestly, however, I enjoyed it. It's quite slow to get into at first, with perhaps too many characters introduced in the first few chapters. But, once the "murder" occurs, I got sucked into the story and the character interactions. Alleyn himself doesn't appear as fully developed as some of the "guest [...]

    16. Another great Marsh book, and I often love how she can put across so much in so few words.[return][return]Anyway, this is the story of lost loves, previous lives, lies, blackmail, murder, rich people and expensive items.[return][return]Sybil, a widowed woman who suffers from "her nerves" takes to the local hotel/hospital, where several weeks later she is found dead of a suspected suicide. The inquest can find no reason for the suicide (despite her daughter getting engaged to a rich but "unsuitab [...]

    17. Ngaio Marsh does it again - another cozy mystery starring the inimitable Superintendent Roderick Alleyn. In Grave Mistake, Marsh provides enough suspects and more than enough red herrings to keep you guessing to the very end. She keeps Alleyn and his trusty sidekick, Inspector ("Br'er") Fox moving sprightly from clue to clue to the inevitable "Ah ha!" moment. Her books are just what the doctor (or is he really a doctor?) ordered for a cozy fan who can't find an Agatha Christie novel that he hasn [...]

    18. I'll comment on the title book, since I've reviewed the other two separately. It's somewhat predictable how this will turn out, since we always know to be suspicious of the overdone "good" character, and we know that at least one of the obviously "bad" characters will turn out to be involved. But she handles this well and there is some surprise in the ending. The extremely valuable stamp featured here makes me think of Alan Bradley's Flavia books - Flavia's father is obsessed by philately - and [...]

    19. I did enjoy this one. Completely dated, of course. It was hilarious that she mentioned the Concorde, because it's about the only thing contemporary in the book. The ending couldn't happen today, for sure. The battle of the will could easily take up another whole book, I'd guess. But the characters are fun, and the plot moves along, and it ends up happily ever after for the couple, and that's certainly obligatory for Ms. Marsh. I'm nearing the end of the series, and overall, it leaves me longing [...]

    20. A good story but not one of her best, as I have to quarrel with a couple of points in it. And since Marsh's books are usually very solid this disappointed me. (view spoiler)[ A clause in a will forcing someone to marry to inherit isn't valid and I seriously doubt it would have been valid in England at that time. Also, impersonating a doctor is illegal, so he should have been arrested or at least talked to much earlier and not been given the chance to escape.(hide spoiler)] Still it's better than [...]

    21. Ngaio Marsh is brilliant for when you are too tired or busy to concentrate on anything more high brow, just like Agatha Christie. I personally prefer the earlier ones from the 1930s and during the war, and the ones set in New Zealand rather than in the UK, but they are all good. I am unashamedly in love with the hero of all Marsh's books, Inspector Alleyn, but again I do prefer him when he's younger in the earlier books. Grave Mistake is fine, but it's from the 70s and frankly, all of the charac [...]

    22. Grade: B-Marsh continues to deliver highly entertaining mysteries late into her life and career. Grave Mistake has delicious characters and is a clever mystery with a clever title. The solution, however, can be guessed fairly easily around the final third of the novel. A collaboration with Christie on this book would have worked wonders, making the solution less obvious and more climactic.

    23. A solid page-turner, again revolving like other Marsh novels around an older woman. Although Sybil Foster's faults revolve around vanity and selfishness, she did not seem to be a particularly unkind or cruel woman (the will made in a temperament aside). She is not hated, yet she is signally unloved.The conclusion of the story is unusual in capturing the murderer, but leaving a deliberately sour tang with other story threads.

    24. One of Marsh's last books and, I believe, one of her best. An example of a set piece murder with duplicity, cupidity and arrogance all festering away to create a denoument that is quite grotesque. As always, Shakespearean undercurrents highlight the gothic touches, but it is the unexpected hunanity of the characters that shines through. A book that pays re-reading.

    25. Written in 1976, for much of its length Grave Mistake could have been set in 1966, 1956 or even 1946, so little has changed in the world of Inspector Alleyn and his sidekick Fox. Nonetheless, Marsh's story is as smooth and assured as all the others, although sadly the title rather blows the killer's identity three-quarters of the way through.

    26. Inspector Alleyn investigates when wealthy woman swallows overdose of pills at a spa hotel. Suspected are her shady doctor fiance, her ne’er-do-well stepson, acquisitive Euro-trash neighbor, and the gardener. A satisfyingly complex village mystery, with a reach into the past.

    27. Beware of expensive spa hotels. Apparently you can get yourself killed in one. A high price to pay for a rest cure. Call in Inspector Roderick Alleyn, C.I.D. to ferret out everyone's secrets and unravel the mystery.

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