Off with His Head

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Off with His Head
First edition
AuthorNgaio Marsh
SeriesRoderick Alleyn
GenreDetective fiction
PublisherCollins Crime Club
Publication date
Media typePrint ()
Preceded byScales of Justice 
Followed bySinging in the Shrouds 

Off with His Head is a detective novel by Ngaio Marsh; it is the nineteenth novel to feature Roderick Alleyn, and was first published in 1957.

The plot concerns a village festival in the English countryside, and features folkloric elements such as Morris dancing and Mummers play. It is set around a particular version of the Guiser play / Sword Dance, the fictional "Dance of the Five Sons", performed on the "Sword Wednesday" of the Winter Solistice. The characters used in that dance are describes in great detail, in particular "The Fool", "The Hobbyhorse" "and "The teaser" (called "Betty").

The novel was published as Death of a Fool in the United States in 1956 (by Little, Brown of Boston), a reference to the fact that the murder victim is playing the Fool in the festival.

The novel is classed as a locked room mystery.