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A Man Lay Dead was the first mystery (and novel) that renowned New Zealand author Ngaoi Marsh ever wrote, and since its publication in 1934, it has not only cemented Marsh’s place as one of the four original “Queens of Crime” (alongside Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers), but it has also become a cozy mystery classic. Set during a murder-mystery party in a lavish English country house, the book follows journalist Nigel Bathgate and clever chief detective Roderick Alleyn as they work to uncover how one of the party’s guests, Charles Rankin, was stabbed to death—for real. Marsh creates a puzzle that is intricate and thrilling, laying the groundwork for 31 future tales with Detective Alleyn, and adaptations for television and film. A titan in detective fiction and a trailblazing theater director, Marsh was ordained a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1966 and received the 1978 Grand Master lifetime achievement award from the Mystery Writers of America. Since her passing in 1982, Ngaoi’s home in Christchurch has become a historic site and museum, and in 2010, the Ngaoi Marsh Awards were established to honor the best literary work in mystery, crime, and thriller writing in New Zealand. —Rachel Sonis

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