Response #34: Ngaio Marsh & the Lampreys


I did not know what to expect before reading A Surfeit of Lampreys. I had never heard of Ngaio Marsh before  so I wasn’t sure what her reputation as a writer was, but I knew she had to be a significant detective writer if she was on our reading list. Her background in theatre really shows in her writing especially in Frid, who is an actress. The whole family could be described as prima donnas, though. They’re full of drama and put on such a show for the readers.

I was quite surprised by the novel. It’s the first book since the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have truly been captivated by. I found most of the characters lovable and entertaining. It definitely wasn’t a boring read. I loved the character of Roberta. I found her to be a very interesting character because she is as much of an outsider in the story as the reader is. Roberta is watching all of the action of the story take place just as we are. I found the Lamprey family to be funny and charismatic, but also extremely annoying at times. Their lifestyle of borrowing money and spending it all until they run out again was difficult to sympathize with especially when none of the family members seemed to make any effort to help out or cut down on unnecessary spending like having a housekeeper and butler.

I thought it was interesting to find that the novel was one of 32 featuring detective Roderick Alleyn because Alleyn doesn’t even appear until around the middle of the story. I did enjoy his time in the book though. I just wish he had appeared earlier. I’m just going to have to read some more of Marsh’s novels in order to get my Roderick Alleyn fix. He is the first detective since Holmes that I have actually enjoyed reading.



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