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Summary

On a cold February night, the police find the third corpse on the quayside in the Pool of London, her body covered with flower petals and pearls. The killer walked away singing.

When the cargo ship Cape Farewell sets sail, she carries nine passengers, one of whom is known to be the murderer. Which is why Superintendent Roderick Alleyn joins the ship at Portsmouth on the most difficult assignment of his professional career....

©1958 Original Text of 1958 by Ngaio Marsh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Ngaio Marsh at her intelligent best." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"Superlatively good." ( Sunday Times)
"Astoundingly good...moments of pure hilarity set among moments of real fear. Masterly." ( Daily Express)
"Really excellent...a proper and classic detective story." (BBC)

What listeners say about Singing in the Shrouds

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Story Great - Narration Poor

This my first listen to Ngaio Marsh, I hope that it's not my last, she's a great author.

The story was innovative and intricate in parts but, it was wholly let down by the narrator! To save his life, he cannot do characterisation! Many times you could not tell who was speaking and, as for the voice he adapted for one female character in particular, it was appalling!

I'm just about to buy another book. I hope that he isn't the narrator. But if he is, I'm going to give him one last chance.

Listen to the sample before buying, the book is great so, if you can tolerate his narration, go for it!

Enjoy!

2 people found this helpful

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Spoilt by the narration

Where does Singing in the Shrouds rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was a different format for a marsh novel set almost entirely on board ship. Unfortunately the narrator over does all of the characters to the extent that it is almost pantomime.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is excellent and the end is a good twist

Would you be willing to try another one of James Saxon’s performances?

No

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

1 person found this helpful

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  • 28-03-16

Atmospheric but a bit obvious

This was well narrated and
built up an interesting atmosphere on the docks and on the boat where the action takes place. But, the story was a bit thin, so not one of my favourite Marsh novels.

1 person found this helpful

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Good, but sound quality is a bit varied

Shame the sound quality dips in an out, because generally James Saxon reads a good Inspector Alleyn. Probably an old recording, transposed to digital - could have done with some tweaking to iron out the variations in volume, and fuzzy quality to some of the reading.
Story is up to Ngaio Marsh's usual standard.

1 person found this helpful

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A perfect combination

I am of the opinion that Ngaio Marsh was a far superior crime writer to Agatha Christie, and, while this is not her greatest novel, it still beats the vast majority of the better known writer's work. Her character, Roderick Alleyn, who, like Ngaio Marsh herself, suffers from frequent mispronunciation of his name, is an understated, sophisticated, and very likeable chap. Marsh never made the mistake of giving him gimmicky personality traits, neither did she make a fool of herself and fall in love with her fictional creation, as Dorothy L Sayers did with her sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey.
This story, which, like all of Marsh's books, begins with a superb opening scene (which I imagine in black and white) that creates a wonderfully evocative atmosphere, is unusual in that the motive for murder is an unpredictable one. It is, however, still possible, as with her other works, for the reader to work out who dunnit. Marsh always plays fair with her audience.
The action takes place on board a ship used primarily for freight, but carrying just nine passengers (with the addition of Alleyn) which, as with all Golden Age detective fiction, gives the perfectly restricted environment.

The reader is the late James Saxon, who is so versatile and adept at creating a whole cast of individual character voices, it is easy to forget it is just him. He was obviously an accomplished actor who was, perhaps, handicapped by his extremely boyish looks. It's a really great shame that he died at a relatively young age, and would never know that he would be so admired by a host of audiobook fans.

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Excellent narration

Enjoyed the entire story immensely, but then I am a huge fan of Ngaio Marsh. The narration by James Saxon was, as always, super.

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Very enjoyable murder mystery.

Perhaps not the best Ngaio Marsh story, but still enjoyable and well read. Characters were engaging.

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Shipboard thrills

Another great story with excellent narration. I prefer Nadia May/Wanda McCaddon (and have purchased books based on the fact that she narrates them!) but James Saxon creates great characters. A book to listen to again.

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  • Helen L.
  • 17-12-16

Nicely diverting

Improbable situation with Alleyne aboard a ship en route to South Africa trying to discover who among the peculiar little group of passengers is a murderer, if indeed one is. Of course, he figures it out, but we don't until we have had a very good time listening to a brilliant reader do all sorts of wonderful voices as we sail with our favorite sleuth from foggy London through the torpid tropics south.

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  • Texas Buyer
  • 15-05-22

What did they say?

As always, I enjoyed the Roderick Allen story line and the unique characters. With this version, I was constantly having to rewind to see if I could understand what certain characters were saying. Parts of the story were lost to me due to this. Frequently, I was confused as to which person was speaking especially as one woman had a deep voice.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-09-21

even Saxon could not save this dreary story

Saxon performed the story beautifully. Unfortunately, this dreary tale of a serial killer was Marsh's worst so far. More Inspector Morse at his most incompetent than the better Inspector Alleyn.

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  • notlad
  • 21-07-18

It is okay, but narration needs help.

I had a very difficult time understanding the narrator, especially in the beginning. I had to replay some parts over and over again to understand the words. It's not a bad story, but narration brought the rating down.

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  • Paul and Courtney
  • 30-09-16

Ending was Meh

It was not her best work. Characters were irritating, the setting underwhelming, and the ending fell flat. All this compared to her usual work. Still a good listen.