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.
Christmas time in an isolated country house and, following a flaming row in the kitchen, there's murder inside. When a much disliked visiting servant disappears without trace after playing Santa Claus, foul play is at once suspected -- and foul play it proves to be. Only suspicion falls not on the staff but on the guests, all so unimpeachably respectable that the very thought of murder in connection with any of them seems almost heresy. When Superintendent Roderick Alleyn returns unexpectedly from a trip to Australia, it is to find his beloved wife in the thick of an intriguing mystery.