Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Good Take on Tey. . .

I seem to be on a bit of a mystery reading kick. Just finished Nicola Upson's An Expert in Murder which features Josephine Tey as the protagonist. I've only read one of Tey's mysteries - the wonderfully inventive The Daughter of Time - and I don't know why I've never explored more of her work as I certainly love this "golden age" of crime writing.
I enjoyed Upson's debut mystery very much, set as it is in the world of theater during the run of Tey's very successful play Richard of Bordeaux in 1934 (something else to look up and read). Tey meets a young girl and fan on the train down to London. The girl is subsequently murdered at King's Cross, just minutes after saying goodbye and the connections to the play and Tey are only heightened and complicated when a second murder occurs in the theatre itself. There's a charming, solid detective named Archie Penrose who loves Tey but is reluctant to act on it as he still feels guilt over the death of Tey's lover Jack - his best friend - during the war. The reverberations, grief and secrets of the First World War are prevalent everywhere in this intricate and entertaining mystery; all of the characters have absorbed its sadness in one way or another. It's a good companion series to the Maisie Dobbs novels of Jacqueline Winspear. Apart from an unconvincing motive on the part of one accomplice character, I thought this was a very accomplished first book and look forward to reading the next in the series - Angel With Two Faces - particularly as it's also set in the theatre world. This time it's the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, a place I'm hoping to visit during the summer. And I must read more of Tey's detective novels as well.

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