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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying mystery
My introduction to Josephine Tey's novels was through The Daughter Of Time way back in the 1960s. It is only recently that I've started reading her other novels and I am finding them to be every bit as good as that one. This novel includes Marta Hallard - an actress friend of Alan Grant, the Scotland Yard Detective Inspector who both featured in `The Daughter of...
Published on 2 Oct. 2011 by Damaskcat

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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loose Change
Tey is a brilliant writer of character studies, with her strength lying in her portrayals of younger women and girls. Unlike her later mysteries though, "Candles" has one of the weakest endings in the entire genre of mystery writing. Still, the characters are so brilliantly drawn, it is just plain fun to read about them. After the first five chapters, the...
Published on 26 Aug. 1998


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying mystery, 2 Oct. 2011
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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My introduction to Josephine Tey's novels was through The Daughter Of Time way back in the 1960s. It is only recently that I've started reading her other novels and I am finding them to be every bit as good as that one. This novel includes Marta Hallard - an actress friend of Alan Grant, the Scotland Yard Detective Inspector who both featured in `The Daughter of Time'.

Leslie Searle, an American photographer, has made a trip to the UK to look up Walter Whitmore as a mutual friend of theirs has died. They become friends and agree to collaborate on a book about a canoe trip down a local river. But Leslie disappears immediately after a public disagreement with Walter and because of the proximity of the river he is feared drowned.

The local police are stumped and Grant is quickly called in to investigate. Right from the start he feels there is something he is missing. The plot is fascinating and presents readers with a great many red herrings as well as a substantial number of clues. The local community with its high proportion of people involved in the arts is well described though not always flattering language. I thought all the characters were well drawn - Liz, Walter's fiancée, Lavinia Fitch and author and Aunt to Walter Whitmore as well as Leslie Searle himself.

If you like your crime with well drawn characters and a complex plot and detectives who are something out of the ordinary then give Josephine Tey's novels a try. They can be read in any order but the first one featuring Alan Grant was The Man In The Queue
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the cover picture put you off .........., 29 Nov. 2012
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C. Craven (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miss Pym Disposes (Paperback)
This book is a cracking little thriller, intelligent, enjoyable, well written, it keeps the reader's interest from start to finish. I bought this book as a present for a friend, as I've alreadyy got my own copy that I've had since I first read it when I was about 16 (many years ago!). I must have re-read it at least a dozen times over the years, and despite knowing the ending, I really enjoy it each time. It's set in a girls' college where all is not quite as wholesome as it seems on the surface, and captures the essence of the 1950's without being old-fashioned or stuffy. There's comedy, pathos, and a nice little twist in the tale and the characters are believable, some of them lovable. If you enjoy a good thriller without the blood and gore that is so prevalent in many who-dunnits, this is the book for you. I can heartily recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Character and crime, 31 May 2011
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Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Miss Pym Disposes (Kindle Edition)
I read this author's The Daughter of Time many years ago but have not read any of her other books. I thought it was about time I rectified this situation and chose Miss Pym Disposes to start with. It is a novel of character and the crime does not take place until relatively close to the end of the book. Lucy Pym - former school teacher - has written a bestselling book on psychology. Her old friend, Henrietta, now head of Leys Physical Training College, asks her to give a lecture to her students and stay for a few days.

Lucy originally intends to return home after the weekend but something keeps her there. The college interests her as do the students and staff. She watches the students practicing their gymnastics read for the end of term demonstration and is captivated. She agrees to stay until after the demonstration. Lucy is asked in invigilate at one of the final examinations and that is where the trouble starts.

The book is a study of character as much as a crime novel. Some modern readers may find the book slow and boring. But I found it interesting, raising as it does some profound questions about crime and punishment and the concealment of crime. The events of the last section of the book cause Lucy to question her own ability to read people's character from their faces and to question the nature of her own friendship with Henrietta.

The book is full of amusing comments and of Miss Pym's well developed sense of the ridiculous. I liked the characters of the students - Innes, brilliant in both theory and practice, Rouse - brilliant at physical activities but struggling with the theory, Nash - nicknamed Beau, rich and beautiful but not spoilt, the girl from Brazil - nicknamed the Nut Tart - who sees everyone for what they are but is liked by everyone including Lucy. A very enjoyable read.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loose Change, 26 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Shilling for Candles (Paperback)
Tey is a brilliant writer of character studies, with her strength lying in her portrayals of younger women and girls. Unlike her later mysteries though, "Candles" has one of the weakest endings in the entire genre of mystery writing. Still, the characters are so brilliantly drawn, it is just plain fun to read about them. After the first five chapters, the mystery becomes immaterial though. For stronger mystery writing, Tey's 'Brat Farrar' or 'Daughter of Time' would be the ones to read. 'A Shilling for Candles' would come at the bottom of the Tey listing, I'm afraid.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tey at Her Best, 6 Jun. 2011
By 
This is Josephine Tey at her best. The action revolves around the disappearance of Leslie Searle a good looking young American photographer. Following a chance meeting at a party Searle is invited to stay in Salcott a village with an artists colony. He and Walter Whitmore a radio commentator set off on a canoe trip on the local river. Halfway through the trip Searle disappears without trace.

Inspector Alan Grant of Sctland Yard arrives to investigate. It is not unfamiliar territory for him as he has already met Searle briefly and Marta Hallard, an actress friend, has a house in the village. The theories surrounding Searle's disappearance are numerous. Did he drown accidentally, had he been murdered or kidnapped, or had he just disappeared of his own free will? Murder suspects are many. Grant eventually solves the case using considerable intuition as well as his detective skills. I enjoyed this book as much for the characters and setting as for the plot though the twist at the end is excellent. As always with Tey there is great elegance in the construction and writing of the novel.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fallen star, drowned at sea, 28 May 2006
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
"The last legacy of all read, 'To my brother Herbert, a shilling for candles.'"

- from the last will and testament of Christine Clay, herein

The unusual title comes from a still more unusual clause in the last will and testament of superstar actress Christine Clay - an enigmatic legacy to her estranged brother. Clay worked her way up from nothing, with a mother who spoiled her brother rotten while having all kinds of excuses why Christine couldn't have proper schooling. Christine managed to escape to the life of the stage; her rise was so rapid that when she married a wealthy man with a title, she was considered to have made a catch, but within a couple of years *he* was thought of as 'Christine Clay's husband'. (Her background, gradually uncovered by police investigation, is enough to support a story in itself.) Now she has been found drowned at the lonely seaside place she was visiting incognito, and a youngster who seems like a stereotypical victim of circumstances is on the run, suspected of her murder for what seems like an inadequate motive. And given the brilliance of Christine Clay's shining star, why was she alone on holiday, with neither a court of hangers-on nor her husband?

Grant carries part of the story's action during his investigation, but Tey isn't shackled to a stylistic formula. Erica, the local Chief Constable's 16-year-old daughter, wades in where angels fear to tread, and generally assists Robin Tisdall, one of the chief suspects, to stay out of police custody while the police try to find out how Christine died. (This last provides an excuse for several mildly entertaining bit-part characters to appear, so I can live with it in the name of entertainment.)

A few too many plots getting in the way of the story, and could've used better editing to work as a book. I think it works better as a performance on the audio edition than it does on the page. As always when Stephen Thorne is the reader, the audio edition is performed well.

Elizabeth Mackintosh ("Josephine Tey" was a pseudonym) was primarily a playwright; she only produced 8 mystery novels altogether, 7 featuring Grant. Incidentally, she used yet another pseudonym, "Gordon Daviot", as both a playwright and for the original publication of many of her books. A SHILLING FOR CANDLES (1936) was Mackintosh's 2nd mystery novel, with an emphasis on 'novel' rather than 'who done it?' Tey isn't particularly interested in playing fair with the reader here, but I personally can live with that since the book works as a story. (I've taken off points for it, and for some issues with the story construction, but on the whole it's enjoyable, so the audio edition is worth having.)
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant psychological detective story set in closed all-female community, 20 May 2008
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This review is from: Miss Pym Disposes (Paperback)
Fortyish Miss Pym has written a popular psychology book and is invited to lecture at a women's physical training college run by her old school friend. She stays for a couple of weeks as an honorary staff member and becomes involved in the lives of the students. Then an unpopular girl is found fatally injured... The "closed community" background makes this more of a novel than a mystery. One of Tey's best, and based on her experience in institutions and the theatre.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A novel of its time - unfortunately., 5 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: A Shilling For Candles (Paperback)
This is from the pen that later wrote The Franchise Affair and Brat Farrar, but it is not in that league. It seems to have impressed at the time because Hitchcock turned it into a film within a year of it being published. Why he acknowledged the debt however I do not know because besides starting off with a body on the beach and a coat that could provide an alibi he completely changed the book and you can see why. The plot is not very convincing, the characters less so and the denouement is not thrilling or particularly plausible, and seems to have been inserted merely to provide a twist that no one will have guessed. Hitch simplified the plot but still did not drag much out of it.
I Like Josephine Tey. She comes across as a sympathetic person generally, but I do find the casual racism unfortunate to say the least. It is one of the most interesting aspects of so much writing before the war that while Hitler is openly denouncing Jews and other "subject races" Tey and her ilk portray them in a similar offhand manner as having inferior qualities that naturally make them prone to crime and unacceptable behaviour.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Golden Age Detective Fiction, 28 Aug. 2011
By 
A body found dead on a Kent beach turns out to be that of a famous actress Christine Clay. At first it is assumed to be a tragic accident or even suicide. However, a button twisted in her hair leads to suspicion of murder and Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate.

There are plenty of suspects including Robert Tisdall, a homeless young man, who had been staying with Christine at a cottage near the beach. He had recently squandered a fortune and taking pity on his situation Christine had offered him accommodation. However, when he is named as a beneficiary in her will, he goes to the top of Grant's suspect list. Other suspects include the victim's brother and her titled husband.

As ever with Tey there are plenty of interesting characters including an astrologer and the actress Marta Hallard who appears in other Tey books. A most delightful character is Erica Burgoyne the local Chief Constable's 17 year old daughter who plays a part in identifying the coat from which the button came.

The action moves at a good pace and there are many twists and turns. The identity of the murderer certainly surprised me and Tey is on top form with this mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Missing presumed drowned........, 2 Dec. 2013
This review is from: To Love And Be Wise (Paperback)
This is a classic English mystery and as such it doesn't disappoint. Whilst it is not an overly long book, about 250 pages there is a lot of description and characters packed into it, all described with excellent English. Interestingly for a book that was first published in 1950 it is very modern in its themes and style and hasn't really dated at all. One of the few exceptions is the nightly phone call made from a public phone box - no mobile phones then.

Leslie Searle is certainly a character and suitably famous which adds to the mystery of his disappearance; the absence of a body has the police including Scotland Yard baffled. Yet the redoubtable Alan Grant aided by his trusty sidekick Sgt Williams and secondary character like the actress Marta Halland whom we have met in other books keep squirreling away to solve the mystery and found out what made Leslie Searle tick.

The ending was excellent - all the loose ends neatly tied up, and a thoroughly satisfying read.
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Miss Pym Disposes
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (Paperback - 3 Feb. 2011)
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