This Is The Sixth Of Josephine Tey S Inspector Grant Novels From The Golden Age Of British Detective Fiction Grant Meets A Celebrity Photographer, Leslie Searle, Briefly At A Party In London He Is Later Astonished To Hear That He Has Vanished In The Sleeply Village Of Salcott St Mary, And Sets Off To Investigate Long ago, in what now seems like another lifetime, I read a lot of Josephine Tey s books and admired her clever plots and superb writing Last year, I reacquainted myself with her writing by rereading my favorite book of hers, The Daughter of Time It gave me an appetite for reading.When I was reading her books in the past, to the best of my recollection, I never read this one And I think I would have remembered for it is a devilishly clever tale.It s the fourth in her series of books featuring Inspector Grant This time he is sent to the remote English village of Salcott St Mary to investigate the disappearance of a young man.Leslie Searle was a uniquely attractive man who was an ultra fashionable portrait photographer from America He was famous for taking pictures of actors and actresses, including some of Hollywood s big stars He was talented and so good looking that he turned heads wherever he went.But why did he go to this backwater village He claimed a connection to a man, now dead, who was a particular friend of one of the villagers As he introduced himself, the villagers accepted and took him in and invited him to be a guest in one of the country homes Soon he was firmly ensconced.He teams up with one of the local celebrities, a writer and radio personality, to write a book about the river that runs through the village The local person will do the writing and he will take pictures to illustrate They plan to canoe down the river and camp by it every night, but shortly after they begin their adventure, one night, Leslie Searle disappears without a trace.There is no sign of foul play and no body found There seem to be no clues as to what could have happened, but attention focuses on the river Was he murdered and thrown into the river Did he accidentally fall into the river and drown Did he deliberately jump into the river to commit suicide Or was he kidnapped by some unknown party The river is dragged repeatedly but no body and no evidence is found Then, a young boy out fishing brings up a shoe that is identified as Searle s, but nothing else is found.Inspector Grant proceeds methodically with his investigation but is making no headway He s given up and is pursuing other cases, when suddenly a lightbulb goes off over his head He has that ah ha moment that helps him to see what might have happened and why As Tey told us in that other book of hers, truth is the daughter of time, and sometimes it takes time and distance to be able to see the truth.The mystery is complicated and it is not one that your typical armchair detective of whom I count myself one will readily solve, and yet, once the solution is explained by Grant, as we look back over the book, we see that all the clues were there Tey has given us all the information we needed but she has camouflaged it so well that it was not readily apparent.This is not in any way a traditional mystery The mystery is hardly even the main point, but rather it is an exploration of psychology and personalities, identity and gender It is, in fact, a literary mystery, full of unforgettable characters, an intricate plot, and a wonderful use of language It is classical Tey, a thoroughly diverting and delicious read. In this 4th book of Josephine Tey s Inspector Grant series, he is active in it from the beginning A young man disappears or is disappeared and Scotland Yard has assigned Alan Grant the responsibility of figuring out whether it is by fair means or foul.Once again, I am impressed by the writing and Josephine Tey s excellent grasp of psychology How and why people take the actions they do is always in depth and real in her characters As many other writers of her era, the main character gets those lightbulb moments that we are not quite privy to If we are paying very close attention we might catch one or two, but while Inspector Grant shares some of his ah ha moments, he doesn t share the details.I don t mind this device at all because it gives my brain a good exercise in trying to figure out what it is he knows or has discovered and how that links into the other facts we have.I enjoyed this read as a nice easy read between heavier novels and recommend it for pure, enjoyable light reading. Josephine Tey s life was cut tragically short If not for this I do believe would be talking about The Big Five Golden Age Detective Writers, rather than The Big Four I can t comment on Margery Allingham s works as I have only read one, but Tey at her best is definitely superior to Ngaio Marsh while Tey has weaker works, so do Sayers Christie This particular novel is all kinds of awesome one of the very few 5 I have given this year for fiction that isn t a reread It isn t just that this is a very well constructed mystery all the characters are well realised The world building to use a modern term is also quite wonderful I felt I was living in the village engaged in all the local affairs.This is the 4th Inspector Grant mystery I am really looking forward to rereading The Daughter of Time which is another mystery from Tey s very creative brain I m hoping it lives up to my memory.I will mention that the edition I read doesn t have Tey s usual racist comments, so I m assuming it has been cleaned up.In case I haven t been clear, I highly recommend this one. In my opinion, Josephine Tey is up there with the best British crime novelists of the last century She wrote intriguing mysteries in clear, crisp and witty prose Her detective, Inspector Grant, is well developed and interesting without having any of the obvious eccentricities many crime writers choose to foist upon their detectives Tey was also good with the minor characters, although in this novel it s fair to say that some are believable than others.Here, Inspector Grant is sent to investigate the disappearance of a very attractive young photographer whose arrival in an English village has had a disturbing impact on a number of the locals Not surprisingly for a crime novel, there s than a touch of the implausible in the narrative If you re going to read this type of novel, you have to be able to suspend disbelief and just go with it You also have to be prepared for a resolution that you can t work out for yourself, as some fairly crucial information is withheld from the reader until the big reveal That s not my favourite style of mystery, but when it s written by Josephine Tey, I m prepared to forgive a lot.
Gordon Daviot , whose name also appears on the title page of another of her 1929 novels, Kit An Unvarnished History She also used the Daviot by line for a biography of the 17th century cavalry leader John Graham, which was entitled Claverhouse 1937 Mackintosh also wrote plays both one act and full length , some of which were produced during her lifetime, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot The district of Daviot, near her home of Inverness in Scotland, was a location her family had vacationed The name Gordon does not appear in either her family or her history.Elizabeth Mackintosh came of age during World War I, attending Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham, England during the years 1915 1918 Upon graduation, she became a physical training instructor for eight years In 1926, her mother died and she returned home to Inverness to care for her invalid father Busy with household duties, she turned to writing as a diversion, and was successful in creating a second career Alfred Hitchcock filmed one of her novels, A Shilling for Candles 1936 as Young and Innocent in 1937 and two other of her novels have been made into films, The Franchise Affair 1948 , filmed in 1950, and Brat Farrar 1949 , filmed as Paranoiac in 1963 In addition a number of her works have been dramatised for radio.Her novel The Daughter of Time 1951 was voted the greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers Association in 1990.Miss Mackintosh never married, and died at the age of 55, in London A shy woman, she is reported to have been somewhat of a mystery even to her intimate friends While her death seems to have been a surprise, there is some indication she may have known she was fatally ill for some time prior to her passing.
- 262 pages
- To Love and Be Wise
- Josephine Tey
- 11 November 2019 Josephine Tey