The first thing I noticed about this author is her incredible talent for rendering conversations. In fact her narrative is so dialogue-driven that her protagonist often has spirited and convincing exchanges with his inner self. Although written before 1949, the writing has a timeless quality, a very modern tightness, and I found the style very "easy on the ears" and thoroughly enjoyable. This book is unusual in that it draws the reader inside the story and invites you to unlock the mystery. The plot's plausibility is heavily dependent on a couple of unique coincidences but, once you accept the premise, everything else follows. In fact, for me the precariousness of the situation adds tension and, although the ending was not a huge surprise, the way all the loose ends are tied up is very satisfying.
Josephine Tey has deftly created some very likeable but complex characters: Brat is at once tough and vulnerable, an opportunist with a conscience. Simon is charming and cast as the victim but full of contradictions. Aunt Bee is typical of a generation of war-time women who had to be strong and unselfish for the sake of others. Each of the main characters is believably human, annoying at times, but always engaging. This book is perfectly suited for all ages, there is no gore, bad language, gratuitous sex or unsettling content and the adult subjects are masterfully handled. And, finally, horse enthusiasts will be happy to find that the substantial equestrian content is accurate and realistic and Tey's undisguised love of horses comes entirely devoid of saccharine.