Friday, 11 November 2011

Something for the weekend..

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

As a reader with an addiction to detective novels, I wish Golden Age crime writer Josephine Tey had written more than a handful of books, and for years have hunted unsuccessfully for a biography of the author. It seems I am not alone! Upson set out to write a biography of Tey (one of several pen names of Elizabeth Mackintosh), but found it so difficult to uncover information about her that she ended up writing a series of crime novels which star Tey, interweaving fact and fiction.

The result is a fun, engrossing series which begins with An Expert in Murder. Set in 1930s Theatreland, Josephine's play Richard of Bordeaux is in its final week. But what should be a celebration of the play's success turns sour when a young woman is murdered. Josephine's detective friend, Archie Penrose, sets out to solve the case with Josephine and a cast of intriguing characters caught up in the drama.
This book's vision of 1930s London is glamorous and sordid at once, with a real sense of the devastation of WWI still hanging over the city and the characters.

One of the things I love about Tey's novels is the whisper of a queer subtext that can only be hinted at during the period, and Upson does a brilliant job of making this more overt for a modern reader. All this, plus I failed to identify the murderer before the end of the novel. A weekend treat.

Sarah T.

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