Customer Reviews


27 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tey at the top of her form
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...
Published on 4 July 1998

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contrived, snobbish, unconvincing.
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...
Published 10 months ago by John_the_Commonweal


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

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 review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contrived, snobbish, unconvincing., 3 Oct 2013
By 
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too dated to be enjoyable?, 15 Oct 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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. At the bottom of the heap are the plebs - the clueless waitresses, the cheerful charladies (like Grant's Mrs Tinker, described as being one of a 'species' that lives to wash other peoples' doorsteps!), and the salt-of-the-earth police sergeants. They all know their place and are grateful for it, implies Tey.
Unfortunately, the plot isn't good enough for you to overlook these dubious assumptions. Despite the great premise it turns into a very dull story. Grant spends half the book fishing, then dashes back to London and on to Marseilles on a wild goose chase that's hard to understand or care about. And when you're stuck with a plot that's not exactly a page turner, you can't help wondering why everyone defers to this man, and what exactly his relationship is with the victim's best friend, who becomes his unpaid sidekick. You can spot the villain a mile off, and the clunky clues make it easy to solve the mystery long before it dawns on Grant. And anyway, the whole thing is explained at the end in a handy letter written by the murderer before he goes off to kill himself.
This book was found in Tey's papers after her death and published posthumously, so we'll never know if she would have improved on it herself with a bit of editing and re-writing.
I don't think that a modern reader would try any more of her novels if this was the first one they came across, which would be a terrible shame. I'd only recommend it to Tey fans, like myself, who just want it to sit on their bookshelves to complete the set.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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 "jan-bookcase" (Somerset) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 18 Sep 2003
By 
N. Anderson "enic116" (dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant read which sustains interest to the end, 3 May 2001
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
first read this 25 years ago, and have periodically re-read ever since. gripping, fine detail, strong ending (unlike some other Tey work, unfortunately). worth visiting the real singing sands. a more modern, less pompous, Buchan in style.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, not one of her better books, 20 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Paperback)
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 dead body in one of the compartments. The first three quarters of the book is mainly concerned with how thinking about the identity of the dead body helps with his recovery. It is long winded and to be honest a bit tedious. Characters feel like two dimensional characatures. The last quarter sees him recovered and back in London with a clue to the dead man's identity. The final dramatic conclusion is crammed into the last few chapters and left this reader feeling cheated. This won't be one I'll be rereading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good holiday read, 16 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Kindle Edition)
Couldn't put it down and spent ages into the night. Enjoyable and intelligent Thank goodness it was on kindle. Brillant
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The sort of book you really do not want to put down!, 8 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Singing Sands (Kindle Edition)
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.
I would have preferred a happier ending
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tey's 8th and final mystery novel (1952), 26 May 2005
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
"The beasts that talk,

the streams that stand,

the stones that walk,

the singing sand..."

- found on an unidentified corpse, herein

I enthusiastically recommend the unabridged audio recording by Stephen Thorne. He speaks beautifully; he voice-acted Aslan in the 1979 animated version of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

As in THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, Grant isn't in the best of health, but this time he's on sick leave for work-related stress (in the form of claustrophobia) rather than physical injury. Unable to sleep on a train journey to Scotland, Grant has the honor of being present when the laziest railway employee in captivity discovers a corpse in a neighbouring compartment, taken at first to be dead drunk rather than merely dead - therefore not only escaping without tipping, but creating more work than 'old Yoghourt' has suffered in many a year. :)

That would have been the end of it - a dead man with an unusual face - except that Grant happened to pick up a half-written sonnet in the dead man's compartment: "The beasts that talk,/The streams that stand,/The stones that walk,/The singing sand..." *That* makes a change from Grant's daily round of investigation - what *was* the stranger up to? To Grant's eye for faces is coupled his hobby of analyzing character from handwriting style. (Hey, everybody has the right to be a bit quirky.)

Even without the mystery, I'd enjoy this as a novel; Grant is, of course, in Scotland to visit his married cousin Laura whom we heard about in THE DAUGHTER OF TIME. (Personally, if I'd been Tey's editor, I'd have recommended that she make Grant's health-related trip to Scotland the same trip he was planning at the end of his hospital stay in THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, rather than coming up with an unrelated health issue in the very next book.) Grant simultaneously struggles to conquer and conceal his claustrophobia while poking into the open-and-shut case of accidental death his colleagues aren't interested in.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Singing Sands
The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey
4.31
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews