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Death of a Peer (Dead Letter Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – March 15, 1998

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Product Details

  • Series: Dead Letter Mysteries (Book 10)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (March 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312964277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312964276
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,252,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It's time to start comparing Christie to Marsh instead of the other way around." --New York magazine

About the Author

From her first book in 1934 to her final volume just before her death in 1982, Ngaio Marsh's work has remained legendary, and is often compared to that of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. During her celebrated fifty-year career, Marsh was made a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, was named Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire, won numerous prestigious awards, and penned 32 mystery novels.

Now St. Martin's Dead Letter Mysteries is thrilled to make all of Marsh's novels available again for old fans to relish and new ones to discover. So sit back, draw the curtains, lock the doors, and put yourself in the hands of Grande Dame of detective novels...

Customer Reviews

Delicious mix of droll comedy and multi-layered mystery.
alex wilson
I found the Lampreys a delightful family and moved Ngaio Marsh's DEATH OF A PEER to the top spot of my favorite Marsh mysteries.
Nash Black
I know for a fact that I've read this book at least four times.
Marc Ruby™

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I know for a fact that I've read this book at least four times. Once when I was barely pubescent and had no idea that Ngaio Marsh was an important mystery author. Again in my 20's when I seriously started to read Marsh's books (an had forgotten that I'd read Death of a Peer). Once more in my 40's for the heck of it, and now, once again. The best recommendation I can ever make is that this is an immensely re-readable book.
One doesn't read a classic English mystery story for the puzzle, as perplexing as that might be, but for the wonderful settings and characters. Lord Peter, Albert Campion, and Marsh's Roderick Alleyn are all not just great detectives but fascinating people that you would love to have as friends. What makes Marsh especially strong is how much detail she gives to her supporting cast.
The Lampreys are all perfect jewels of the story tellers art. They are the classic eccentric, down on their luck, British nobility. Too busy being noble and sincerely lovable to remember to be practical. They are all charming, and your heart will also go out to Roberta Grey, one of the Lamprey's particular friends.
Other reviewers have gone over the plot, so I'm not going to bore you with details. Suffice it to say you will be alternatively delighted and and horripilated (I think that's the word) as the book moves from light hearted comedy to a rather ghoulish end game. Everything the mystery addict could ever want!
There are many good reasons to read this book. It is one of the novels that helped define the British mystery story doyen. Ngaio Marsh is on of the most important writers in that genre (even if she isn't quite British), and Death of a Peer is certainly one of her best books.
But the real reason to read it is that it is simply very, very good. If you have never read a Marsh book this is a great way to start. If you have, you know what you're missing.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Lampreys are a family seemingly lifted from one of playwright Noel Coward's most brilliant comedies: they are charming, clever, eccentric, and virtually everyone who encounters them soon falls under their spell. Unfortunately, they are also among the most financially irresponsible aristocrats imaginable, always going broke. Even so, they have always managed to escape the public humiliation of bankruptcy--until, that is, a dubious business partnership explodes around them.

Only one hope stands between the Lampreys and complete disaster: that Lord Charles Lamprey's older brother, Lord Wutherwood, may be enticed to come to the rescue. But Lord Wutherwood is largely immune to the legendary Lamprey family charm--and more than a little miserly--and the mix of eccentricity, family titles, and money proves lethal.

Written on the eve of World War II, many critics regard DEATH OF A PEER (also published as A SURFEIT OF LAMPREYS) as Ngaio Marsh's single finest novel. I think that's arguable, but no matter how you look at, it is certainly one of Marsh's best. Marsh's skill at creating fascinating characters and memorable settings often outstrips her way with a plot--but in this instance the elements balance beautifully, and the result is a pager-turner from start to finish. Strongly recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
In Memory of Ellen R. Smith, 1920-2005
Virtuoso Pianist and Good Friend
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MK Writer on June 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
not by any means your average family. A throw-back to happier times, they are typical, impoverished English peers, through whose fingers money slips like water. They generally don't worry though, since something always comes through and saves them from their latest financial crisis. This time, though, they might be in trouble, if Uncle G., Lord Charles Lamprey's wealthy older brother, decides not to come to their financial rescue. As it happens, he's had enough of pulling the Lamprey fat out of the fire. The Lampreys think they're finished when Uncle G. is murdered in the ghastliest manner, and they gain their inheritance, narrowly averting a financial scandal. The only problem is, did one of them do it? So of course, Inspector Alleyn steps in to get to the bottom of the crime. While I am a general fan of Ngaio Marsh, I think that this is one of her better novels, as she draws a very vivid picture of the large Lamprey family, seen through the eyes of their friend, Roberta Grey. She successfully mixes the aristocracy with witchcraft, facts about New Zealand, and introduces us to a young version of P.C. Lamprey (a minor character that you meet in other novels, chiefly, _Night at the Vulcan_). All in all, an excellent whodunit.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on April 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Of the 28 (of 33) Ngaio Marsh books I've read so far, this is my favorite. Surprisingly, editorial critics seem to agree. It concerns the Lampreys, a poor aristocratic family in pre-war England & their friend Robin from New Zealand. As their name (& the cover of this book) implies, they are essentially parasitic but is this just their nature? Chief Inspector Alleyn describes them as: p. 386: "Charming. Irresponsible. Unscrupulous about money. Good-natured. Lazy. Amusing. Enormously popular" & p. 241: "certifiable grotesque." They remind me of both PBS Britcoms (perhaps a parody) & Jane Eyre (mentioned on p. 14).

Besides Alleyn's usual police crew, there's recurring newspaperman Nigel Bathgate. Though his part is less important here than in some of Marsh's other novels, I always find him amusing. While the mystery is clever & difficult to figure out, the writing is awesome--Marsh is a literary mystery writer. This book has two of her very best scenes: starting on p. 227: Alleyn's fantastic interview of 10 year old Mike (who joins the force in a later novel) & on pp. 429-30: Alleyn's discussion of MacBeth w/a Police Constable. Not only are these awesome, but they are both key to solving the mystery. Indeed, the book is MacBeth-like.

Marsh also has other pithy descriptions such as: p. 259: "She's pretty grim even when at her jolliest" & provides very discerning & wise observations: p. 177: Robin from New Zealand of the Lampreys--"I don't know what they are like...I have no knowledge of their reality. I have fitted their words & actions into my own idea of them but my idea may be quite wrong...she began to wonder confusedly if anybody had a complete secret reality or if each layer of thought merely represented the level of someone else's idea of the thinker, p.
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