Thursday, July 21, 2011
An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson
Author: Nicola Upson
Publisher: Harper, 2009
Paperback, 320 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery, #1 Josephine Tey mystery
Source: Purchased from Bookcloseouts.
First Line: Had she been superstitious, Josephine Tey might have realised the odds were against her when she found that her train, the early-morning express from the Highlands, was running an hour and a half late.
No one could be more surprised than Josephine Tey that her play, Richard of Bordeaux, is the hit of the 1934 theatre season in London. She boards the train from Inverness to London to attend the play's final week and strikes up a conversation with a very personable young girl in the same compartment. To Josephine's shock, the young girl is murdered shortly after the train reaches London.
A friend of Josephine's, Detective Inspector Archie Penrose, is convinced that the murder is connected to the play, and that Josephine herself is in danger. When a second murder occurs, the policeman and the playwright find themselves working together to catch a killer.
Author Nicola Upson has done a marvelous job of blending fact and fiction in the character of Josephine Tey. (I don't read many "classic" or "golden age" mysteries, but even I know about Josephine Tey and her wonderful books. She is a very under-appreciated writer.) Upson's historical detail isn't at all overwhelming, and sets just the right tone in transporting a reader into the 1930s.
I had managed to identify the killer and a cohort, but I did not deduce the Why of it all because I was enjoying the characters, the setting, and the twists and turns of the plot so much. I look forward to reading the other books in the series, and would recommend them to anyone who has enjoyed reading Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, the Bess Crawford series written by Charles Todd, or the books of Suzanne Arruda.