Friday, 8 June 2012

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

How would you like to see your favourite mystery writer in a book solving murders? An Expert in Murder features Josephine Tey, author of several mysteries including The Daughter of Time and a successful play Richard of Bordeaux. Josephine Tey is not exactly my favourite writer but I have read two of her mysteries recently and Alan Grant is quite fresh in mind and this idea piqued my curiosity.

Josephine on her way to London, abroad a train gets acquainted with Elspeth Simmons, a young girl who loves all things theatre and particularly loves Josephine's play. At London's King Cross they part ways and Elspeth is brutally murdered in the empty train. An elaborate scene is set up with dolls that are theatre memorabilia and a flower is left at the crime scene. Who murdered Elspeth and why? Was Tey the intended victim? And why would someone kill someone in a public place like a train?

We get to meet Inspector Archie Penrose, the person on whom Alan Grant is supposedly based on. The real sensitive and no frills or eccentricities detective.

"She had wanted a hard-working, well-meaning police inspector, a credible detective to stand out among the figures of fantasy and wish-fulfilment found in so many other crime novels ...."

We don't get insight into Josephine's mind. But there is another writer a struggling bitter person who is awaiting police interrogations who muses

"It was important for writers to make most of every experience and she often played this game with herself, standing outside life, observing. "

At some point I guessed the killer, there was a huge clue, a give away. There were many points I guessed but still there was enough mystery for me to keep reading. I knew who but I couldn't fathom the why?

One important character who plays an important role is War. War has changed life and to people who had survived the war, it had changed life in different ways. There is a running theme of Dysfunctional couples. Aubrey and Grace, Alice and Walter. How War had altered their relationship and though they contniued to live together as Grace Aubrey points out to Penrose

"It's a terrible thing to admit, but any of the pleasures that I did take from our life together would not have been lessened had he not be there to share them. "

I would have liked to know more about the workings of Tey's mind, she doesn't solve the mysteries but she is there at the end. I had some questions while reading The man in the Queue by Tey. Upson tries to answer them for Tey quite satisfactorily. Reference to Tey's books and her characters are interesting and I am definitely picking up Upson's books.

1 comment:

neer said...

Like you I too have read a couple of Tey's books and haven't found them too interesting but your review makes me want to pick this up.