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on 10 August 2011
Nicola Upson's first crime novel featuring Josephine Tey was set in London, packed with period detail of Theatreland and with an unusual but intriguing plot. Sadly this second novel fails to live up to the promise of the first. Upson sticks with her detective, Archie Penrose and with Josephine Tey but moves the location to Cornwall. The plot has its dramatic moments but frankly gets sillier and sillier. Although, according to the blurb, Upson lives for part of the year in Cornwall, she is far less confident in conveying a sense of place this time round, the dialogue is lumpen and, as another reviewer has commented, this could be set in modern times. It fails to create any sense of period. I turned instead to the real Josephine Tey and read 'Miss Pym Disposes'. What a revelation. Beautifully written and understated and a carefully revealed denoument which had the power of surprise. If you are keen to read period crime, try Tey herself.
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on 14 December 2011
This is the third Nicola Upson 'Josephine Tey' novel I have read (previously read 1&3) and I was very disappointed by it. Not so much because of the dialogue (though the criticism of the reviewer above is justified, convincing 'golden age' dialogue is perhaps too much to ask) but because of the plot. I don't want to spoil it for potential readers, but will just say that I thought the amount of sexual deviance, domestic violence, domestic tragedy, etc was wildly over the top. I did finish it but it was an effort as I got to the point where the plot seemed silly rather than tragic. In this sort of novel a bit of restraint and building suspense are important ingredients in my view.
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on 30 October 2009
I had thoroughly enjoyed the first Josephine Tey book and had eagerly awaited the second one. Sadly I was very disappointed with this one. I cannot put my finger on one fundamental issue which led to my disappointment but rather there seem to be a number of smaller things which in combination left me feeling dissatisfied. In summary - the characters did not ring true and seemed contrived. Even those we met in the first book were less likeable and less credible in this one. The way in which the period was evoked did not work for me - there were times when some of the dialogue read like 2009 dialogue rather than early 20th century. The plots (and there are a lot of them) were not convincing. The locations did not leap out of the page as London did in the first one - I know Cornwall well and some of the descriptions of places and customs rang false.
I too took this book on holiday thinking that I would be able to bury myself in it but had to force myself to finish it and by the end I had ceased caring about who had done what to whom. I will think long and hard before buying the next one but I do hope that it will be up to the standard of the first one as we could do with another new classic english crime writer.
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on 29 October 2015
This 'murder' mystery features Josephine Tey, the brilliant crime writer as a key character, visiting friends in Cornwall and to be honest I purchased it assuminging it was a Tey novel.
The book is a psychological drama but so dark and disturbing in its exploration of incest, and abuse of all sorts that I found it an uncomfortable read.
It was difficult to relate to any of the characters; even the two modelled on Tey and her charismatic detective and there was rather too much Cornish hokum in the narrative.
I have returned to the template and doubt I will continue to follow Upson's 'Tey experiments though clearly they have a considerable following elsewhere.
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on 19 December 2009
I loved this book. So much more than just a thriller - a moving and honest portrait of a place and time.

Once again I enjoyed Josephine Tey's attempts (along with Archie Penrose) to establish the truth behind the mysterious deaths, but it was the other characters that really held my attention (once I'd got over my initial confusion with the Cornish names and had managed to grasp who was who). It was their lives that somehow mattered more to me than the nuts and bolts of who did what to whom. And I suspect this is the author's intention here - Josephine isn't really the story, but rather she is our vehicle into this closed interlinked, interdependent world where no one can escape their past, nor the locations, which are as much a character as the people: the Minack theatre, the Looe pool, the church on the cliffs... One of my favourite books is Watership Down in which a real landscape plays a similar role and I once spent a day tracing their journey. I can feel a similar trip coming on here.

Can't wait for the next one.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are a fan of the classic English "Whodunnit", where clues to the identity of a fiendish murderer who has upset the idyllic charm of a bucolic village community are scattered along with numerous red herrings in a self contained storyline, then "Angel With Two Faces" is the book for you.

If you are not so keen on such tales, exemplified by Agatha Christie's or Margaret Allingham's detective works, and prefer your crime fiction to be a bit more literary, for example as practised by the great Josephine Tey, you may not enjoy this book as much.

The storyline itself, is plausible and interesting, Upson plays fair with her readers, giving all the clues necessary for them to work out what has happend before her detective character, Archie Penrose.

In truth, neither Archie Penrose nor his sidekick, crime writer Josephine Tey, ever actually work out what is happening and, despite hundreds of pages of descriptions of them interviewing every inhabitant of the local great estate, sometimes several times, one of the other characters, disappointingly, has to spell it out for them.

A bigger flaw than the slightly deflating ending, however,I found, was the depiction of 1930s values. I found these unconvincing. Surely a police detective of the period, however liberal, could not accept pedophilia and incest, to say nothing of abortion and homosexuality with such tolerance? Language seems to be slightly too modern at times as well as attitudes, and the rigid class system should surely stop some of the interaction between characters we see?

A competent enough crime tale, but not one that feels as real as one of Tey's own novels.An interesting addition to the growing genre of real historical people (well, Josephine Tey was actually a pseudonym, as the Author's Note acknowledges, saying the character is a "blend" of the real author and her crime writing persona, a rather difficult trick to pull off) acting as investigators. Tey joins Freud, Jung and Arthur Conan Doyle on this list. How long before some post modernist wag writes "Nicola Upson Investigates" I wonder...."While writing her bestselling fiction featuring crime writer Josephine Tey, Nicola Upson happens upon a series of grisly murders..." Well, perhaps not...
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on 7 August 2010
This was very disappointing. Dialogue was very unconvincing, plot weak and not very engaging and the whole thing about twice as long as needed. A poor follow-up to her debut.

And there was very little actual detection!
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VINE VOICEon 14 January 2014
The best thing about this book was its Cornish setting and the featuring of the Minack Theatre as a centrepiece for the murder drama. Nicola Upson is ever-inventive as she combs thirties history to support her stories of Josephine Tey. This one focusses on Tey's detective, Penrose (the fiction-on-fiction model for Tey's detective Alan Grant) and the involvement of his family in the murder story.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed, as ever, Upson's intrigues and period details, I prefer her other stories. But I appreciate the variety of settings of Upson's books from London to Cornwall to Portmeirion to Suffolk. There is a lot to recommend in this novel as in the others. I just have a preference for the theatre world featured in the other novels. But for Josephine Tey fans this is another good contribution to the series.
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on 3 October 2012
Having read 3 of Nicola Upson's Josephine Tey Novels and having bypassed the second in the series 'Angel with two faces' I was looking forward to it enormously. I am sorry to say I was very disappointed by this one. It felt slackly plotted and took long diversions into well written but ultimately dissatisfying dialogues which do little to push the plot along. I also found the degree of incest prevalent in this small Cornish backwater a bit difficult to believe. Maybe it does happen like that in the country, but in a work of fiction it's hard to believe. Sorry, Ms Upson, I've been such a fan of the other three Josephine Tey books and hope you will produce more, but this one didn't do it for me.
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on 24 December 2012
A clever idea to fictionalise characters who really existed, keeping them for the most part. in their real life settings.
I didn't feel that the author had thought her plot line through to the end which I found rather disappointing and
unsatisfactory. However, as I am a great admirer of Josephine Tey's books I will probably order the next 2 in this series.
I always pass these on to my son, who also enjoys them, and make sure they are returned! They have also prompted me to re-read (for about the 4th time) all of Tey's books. Alan Grant rates with Adam Dalgleish as my 2 favourite fictional detectives and Archie Penrose promises well worth more knowledge of him and his work.
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