First Line: Grant paused with his foot on the lowest step, and listened to the shrieking from the floor above.
The little backwater village of Salcott St. Mary has become a refuge for celebrities-- writers, artists, actors, radio presenters-- so it should come as no surprise that handsome photographer Leslie Searle should make an appearance there. After all, Hollywood stars begged to be photographed by him. But the entire village is thrown on its ear when Searle goes missing. Why did he vanish? And how? Is Searle's disappearance a practical joke... or murder? It's up to Inspector Alan Grant to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Josephine Tey continues to be about the only "Golden Age" mystery writer that I care for (although I have begun making inroads on Dorothy L. Sayers), and To Love and Be Wise continues my admiration of her writing.
The cast of characters sparkles. The celebrities are all eccentric in their own little ways. Some of them make you laugh, some of them make you shake your head, and some just make you want to slap them. The excellent working relationship of Grant and the trusty Detective Sergeant Williams is further explained. And that disappearance of Leslie Searle is truly puzzling-- although Tey plants a vital clue to its solution at the very beginning of the story.
More than anything else-- especially with Williams being pulled away to conclude a case in London-- the pace is slow and deliberate, as though Grant is taking a leisurely stroll through the suspect pool and trying the noose on each of them for size. And as he's sizing them up, the reader is allowed to do much the same. I found To Love and Be Wise quite refreshing. No electronics to fuss with. No serial killers to be in fear of. Just a very real puzzle: what on earth really happened to Leslie Searle? And... why didn't I pay more attention to that clue at the very beginning of the book? At the rate I'm going, I may actually become a fan of these classic mysteries!
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey
Touchstone © 2012
Originally published 1950.
eBook, 259 pages
Police Procedural, #4 Detective Inspector Alan Grant msytery
Source: Purchased from Amazon.