Author: Ngaio Marsh –
Publisher: Hachette Digital –
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Detective –
Overall rating: 4/5 –
Writing: 4/5 –
Duration: 3:19 (Artists in Crime), 3:17 (Death in a White Tie), 3:21 (Scales of Justice) (short, abridged)
Narrator: Benedict Cumberbatch –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Impressions: 5/5 –
Performance errors: 1/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –
This review refers to the three books by Ngaio Marsh performed by Benedict Cumberbatch. These are: Artists in Crime (published 1938, abridged audio 2008), Death in a White Tie (published 1938, abridged audio 2008) and Scales of Justice (published 1955, abridged audio 2008).
This was the series which reintroduced me to the world of audiobooks after a long break, thanks to the first COVID lockdown. For the duration of the COVID pandemic, I became obsessed with crime novels and voice acting. These three productions are very easy to understand and concentrate upon. They are perfect for people who are only beginning to develop concentration required to enjoy audiobooks. They also do a great service to Ngaio Marsh whose works have been somewhat underappreciated or forgotten (next to none have been translated into Polish). However, if you start the audiobook adventure with performances by top notch actors, you may never be able to return to the regular “reading a book” narration style. This is what happened to me.
In terms of story, Ngaio Marsh was able to produce a character – Roderick Alleyn – inducing trust in the public authorities, law and order. For a lawyer in a country torn by troubles related to the rule of law, the misuse of the letter of law by judges and the wonky understanding of the law by the general public, novels by Ngaio Marsh became an escape and refuge. I also realized that crime detection novels are a good medium for teaching that the law protects everyone in the same way, irrespective of their wealth, merit, convictions or social worth. Individuals should strive to reflect this general principle in their actions, however imperfect the result. There is probably no better way of explaining this simple premise than showing murder investigators at work, allowing the reader to engage in their pursuits. As a bonus, good crime novels are able to teach certain elements critical thinking such as distrusting the first answer that comes to mind or developing the ability to ask the right questions.
All in all, a production definitely worth recommending and listening to.
The covers are not consistently colored or even sized which appears to be a theme among audiobook series. The second two show some consistency in coloring and content, though not in the description of the Publisher, while the first and third are provided in the same size. The black and white photo theme is also not consistent as the third cover introduces small elements of color. The typography of “Marsh” is puzzling as there is no clear reason to write the letter A in such a manner here. Overall, not a very good set of covers.
Cover Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash