- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Feb. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571237711
- ISBN-13: 978-0571237715
- Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2 x 20 cm
- Average Customer Review: 119 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey) Paperback – 5 Feb 2009
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An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson is the first in an enthralling series from a major new female crime writer.
"An Expert in Murder" is the first in a new series which features Golden Age crime writer Josephine Tey as its lead character, placing her in the richly-peopled world of 1930s theatre which formed the other half of her writing life. It's March, 1934, and Tey is travelling from Scotland to London to celebrate what should be the triumphant final week of her celebrated play, Richard of Bordeaux. However, a seemingly senseless murder puts her reputation, and even her life, under threat. Cleverly blending fact and fiction, "An Expert in Murder" is both a tribute to one of the most enduringly popular writers of crime and an atmospheric detective novel in its own right.See all Product description
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There were grammatical errors as well. In the 1930s no one would have used the word like instead of as if. Swearing was probably kept for male company. No man with manners swore in front of a lady. Bright young things may, for all I know, have used risque language but I’m sure they were never as coarse and vulgar as Ronnie and Lettice even if they were Bohemians.
I will read further books in the series and hope the rougher edges will be smoothed.
Josephine Tey is undisguised and needs no introduction. Neither does "John Terry", although his mother's surname is used. I don't think Archie Penrose is "real", but he is based on Miss Tey's Inspector Grant. Penrose is not your average day-to-day copper. He studied medicine at Cambridge and is, of course, single. He is very much in the Adam Dalgleish and Roderick Alleyn mode.
The author was also at Cambridge where she read English and she has researched Josephine Tey and her circle well. Certainly her style resembles Miss Tey's, but she explores certain aspects which Tey would avoid, not least same sex relationships. She portrays the gossip and intrigue of theatre land well, and also brings in the long, haunting shadows of the First World War.
However, I do have some quibbles and a caveat. I suspect that some of the words and phrases she uses (eg "bollocking") might not have been used in the thirties. Christian names are used too quickly (eg Penrose with the Simmons family) and the telephone was probably used less frequently and extensively as it is today. And in the nineteen thirties people came of age at twenty one, not eighteen.
My caveat is that there is an uncanny degree of coincidental involvement between many of the characters, in the War and the theatre. This doesn't ring true.
However, putting aside some fairly intense prose towards the end, the book is well-written, avoids undue verbosity, and portrays the characters well. It is a worthwhile and interesting read.
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Don’t bother with this series.