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The Singing Sands [Paperback]

Josephine Tey
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Dec 1996

On his train back to Scotland for a well-earned rest, Inspector Grant learns that a fellow passenger, one Charles Martin, has been found dead. It looks like a case of misadventure - but Grant is not so sure. Teased by some enigmatic lines of verse that the deceased had apparently scrawled on a newspaper, he follows a trail to the remote Outer Hebrides.

And though it is the end of his holiday, it is also the beginning of an intriguing investigation into the bizarre circumstances shrouding Charles Martin's death...

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed edition (16 Dec 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684818922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684818924
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.6 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,283,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Has all the Tey magic and delight." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Beautifully written and insistently readable." (New York Times)

"Josephine Tey has always been absoluteely reliable in producing original and mysterious plots with interesting characters and unguessable endings" (Spectator)

"Really first class... a continual delight" (Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A classic mystery from the Golden Age of detective fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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IT WAS SIX O'CLOCK of a March morning, and still dark. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tey at the top of her form 4 July 1998
By A Customer
This (posthumously published) novel shows Tey at her best. Inspector Alan Grant, on his way by train to Scotland for a long-overdue spell of R&R, is on hand when a young man's body is found in an adjoining compartment. By accident, he finds himself in possession of a clue that hints that something wasn't right about the young man's death; in his pursuit of the truth, he travels as far as the Hebrides and meets characters ranging from a lovely widow who looks good in waders to a world-famous Arabian explorer, a young pilot friend of the deceased, and the unforgettable Wee Archie. The story line seems to ramble at times, but the conclusion is highly satisfying. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contrived, snobbish, unconvincing. 3 Oct 2013
I think the problem for me is that I don't like Josephine Tey - the person, I mean. She's a raging snob, for a start. Her Scottish maids, waitresses, etc, and the English landlady, not to mention the friend of the murder victim, who pops up in the middle of nowhere, are all depicted as rather inferior to people with servants. There's also a very dated snobbery about Scotland. It's taken for granted that the hotels will be awful, the food will be worse, and that it's a place to escape from. The nationalist, wee Archie, is such a grotesque caricature, with his dirty unwashed clothes and his'vile' Glagow accent, that I wonder why she put him in the book - he isn't relevant to the plot, after all. The same irrelevance applies to the fragrant lady something-or-other, who has no purpose whatsoever. Tey seems happier altogether when Grant returns to London, where there are nice people with servants - Grant has his 'housekeeper' who is clearly of an inferior 'class' bur at least is comic.

The plot, too, is poor, To say it is contrived would be an understatement. It isn't even contrived. There's a long and pointless session in the Scottish Highlands followed by some wandering around Europe for undisclosed purposes, then at the end the villain conveniently has the grace to send a long letter of confession to Grant, for no reason that I can fathom.

A book I endured, hoping for something interesting or striking to happen. But it didn't. No more Tey for me! It's off to the charity shop for this one.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too dated to be enjoyable? 15 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Josephine Tey is the most elegant and stylish of murder mystery writers. With her dry wit, spare prose and aristocratic disdain, she's the perfect antidote to the more gossipy, sensationalist and middle class Agatha Christie, who was her contemporary (though Tey died in 1952). She wasn't nearly as prolific as Christie (who was?) and these days she's not nearly as well known. But she produced, in my opinion, one must-read book for the murder mystery fan (The Daughter Of Time), and one quiet masterpiece (The Franchise Affair).
Whilst replacing my worn-out copies of these two books recently, I spotted this smart new edition and thought I'd invest in all her novels, starting with this one. I last read it over 30 years ago, and to my great disappointment I found it had dated very badly.
Inspector Grant of the Yard is her hero once again, and here he's travelling to Scotland on holiday to get over some sort of breakdown. A body is discovered on the night train and he takes it upon himself to solve the mystery, with an unfinished poem as his only clue.
Tey writes beautifully, as always, but in this book the tone has descended into outright snobbery (she was always teetering on the brink), and her characters are relics from a deferential class system that was surely on its last legs even in the 1950s. At one end of the social scale there are the plucky aristocrats like Lady Kentallen ('a darling'), clinging on to their down at heel country estates (yet with enough cash to send their sons to public school), who are obviously superior in taste and understanding to the pushy and vulgar middle classes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspector Grant "resting" again 4 May 2012
By Jane Baker VINE VOICE
Grant always seems to be resting or recovering, this time from a sort of nervous breakdown brought on by overwork. Travelling to Scotland by train to stay with Tommy and Laura he comes upon a body in a cabin on the train. By chance he picks up a newspaper with a strange hand-written verse which sends him off detecting across the northern regions. Tey has a mighty pen which conveys prose in an economic style. There are some wonderful landscape descriptions in this work, some wit, some local dialect which I found a little tedious and which didn't seem to add very much to the storyline. I enjoyed this, it was intriguing in parts, but not her best and one cannot get away from the irrelevances which in today's social climate make this rather dated. There is sexism and old-fashioned attitudes which don't chime well and which younger readers might use to detract from her authority. Agatha Christie stands the test of time but I fear Josephine Tey may not. This could be because Tey is much more serious than is Christie and would never be part of the popular culture.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic 18 Sep 2003
I received this book as a gift in my early teens and it sparked a life-long interest in classic British crime and mystery - particularly the highly covetable Penguin green back paperback editions.
The Singing Sands not only has a great storyline but a wonderful sense of atmosphere in its description of the beautiful Highlands. In this, Tey writes marvellously well - I could taste Grant's horrible hotel breakfast with its yellowy soda scones.
Well worth reading if you have an interest in this genre.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read thanks Sue
Published 13 days ago by Miss S.B.Porch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 1 month ago by rosie2
5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good holiday read
Couldn't put it down and spent ages into the night. Enjoyable and intelligent Thank goodness it was on kindle. Brillant
Published 2 months ago by D M Bullick
4.0 out of 5 stars The sort of book you really do not want to put down!
The authoress manages to hold ones interest by moving smoothly from one topic to the next.
Suitable for readers who like to solve the puzzles together with the storey. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Clive Westwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, not one of her better books
It almost felt that Josephine Tey was trying to pad out a thin story plot. Inspector Grant is on the overnight sleeper to Scotland suffering from stress and overwork when he sees a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by ESW
4.0 out of 5 stars Something of a red herring
This is another satisfying "read" with all the best features of Josephine Tey's art - an easy literary style, well observed characterisation, and artful plotting. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. A. J. Downs
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I bought this book as a bit of a 'risk' Old time author. Hmm. Would it be readable? Answer - Oh Yes! Not a bloodthirsty. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Flappit Witch
4.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn.
This is not unlike "The Daughter of Time" in so far as the gifted detective Alan Grant ponders the problem
(which is not strictly his business) while recovering from... Read more
Published 16 months ago by talmine
5.0 out of 5 stars As always, brilliant
I just love Josephine Tey - that's all there is to say. It is just such a shame she didn't write more detective fiction, because she has developed a style in the genre all her own.
Published 17 months ago by folkfan
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good writer
Beautifully written. A fascinating story. She's never out of date. Look forward to reading some of her books I read years ago.
Published 17 months ago by Star
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