Dame Ngaio Marsh DBE (April 23, 1895 - February 18, 1982), born Edith Ngaio Marsh was an author and theatre director from New Zealand. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she is believed to have been born in Christchurch on 23 April 1899. Marsh worked as an actress, theatrical producer and interior decorator before publishing her first novel, A Man Lay Dead, in 1934. This, and all subsequent novels, featured her series character Chief-Inspector Roderick Alleyn.
Ngaio Marsh's most popular novel begins when a young New Zealander's first contact with the English gentry is the body of Lord Wutherford -- with a meat skewer through the eye... The Lampreys had plenty of charm -- but no cash. They all knew they were peculiar -- and rather gloried in it. The double and triple charades, for instance, with which they would entertain their guests -- like rich but awful Uncle Gabriel, who was always such a bore. The Lampreys thought if they jollied him up he would bail them out -- yet again. Instead, Uncle Gabriel met a violent end. And Chief Inspector Alleyn had to work our which of them killed him.