Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Novel Twist

I have blogged about Josephine Tey before. She died of cancer in 1952, in her mid fifties - but in the previous two decades had become an accomplished author and playwright. "Richard of Bordeaux", a historical play, made its leading man/director a household name. Unsurprisingly, John Gielgud became a good friend. Alfred Hitchcock turned one of her stories into a film, other plays were broadcast on the BBC... 

Josephine was well known among the theatre/literati set of her day. So a few weeks back, when I heard that Radio 4 Extra were dramatising a novel about Ms Tey, I thought I'd listen. I loved it!
An Expert in Murder is by Cambridge based author Nicola Upson. She has taken some facts from JT's life [i.e. her play Richard of Bordeaux being staged in London] and skillfully constructed a detective mystery around it, in the classic 1930's/40's "Golden Age of Crime" style. There is a "Gielgud" character, and Tey's best friend is a Detective, Archie Penrose [who conveniently is able to advise her when she is writing about her own fictional 'tec, Alan Grant]
The radio play was in two parts, and having heard the final instalment, I set to find out more about Nicola Upson.
She has written a number of these Tey Mysteries.
I managed to find two more in a local Dorset library.
London Rain is all about the death of a popular senior BBC announcer [think Dimbleby/Huw Edwards etc]on Coronation Day in 1936. As one of the Tey plays is in rehearsal for "The Home Service" [as Radio 4 was then called] she has access to Broadcasting House, and gets involved. She's not quite Miss Marple...but does somehow seem to occasionally spot the clues the police have missed!
I enjoyed London Rain more than Fear in the Sunlight. FIS is set in the wonderful whimsical Welsh village of Portmeirion [known to many as the setting for Patrick McGoohan's surreal 1960's series "The Prisoner"] Josephine goes there for a weekend to celebrate her 40th birthday [so of course her friend DCI Penrose is with her] and also meets up with Hitchcock to discuss filming her book "A Shilling for Candles" [the Hitchcock connection is fact, as is her weekend in Wales] 
There are murders and mystery...
I have another of the books on reserve, due be collected from Ferndown library next week.
Expect a bit more reviewing then...


  1. Oooh, thanks for the tip off. As you know, I am an ardent Whodunnit fan! I shall seek these!

  2. You remind me of how excited I was when I discovered Barbara Pym. Genteel and wonderful writing. This post reminds me of that! It reminds me too of that movie about the time Agatha Christie disappeared- did it star Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave? Whole trains of thought!

  3. I've read all of these books - if you can read them in order then you are swept up in the fictional Josephine's life! Lesley.

  4. Thank you, Cochrane girl- at the moment I am just trying to track them all down in the East Dorset Library Catalogue. I suspect that at the minute there is another reader out there on the same mission. Yes Mags, I remember that film - it was very clever, an the Harrogate Spa Hotel was amazing.


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!