When I began working in public libraries in the 1960s one of the popular authors was Josephine Tey. I did not read any of her works at the time but have had the opportunity to do so this year. Josephine Tey is well known for her detective fiction featuring Inspector Grant but she also wrote stand alone fiction - one tile being Miss Pym disposes published in 1946.
Lucy Pym, a former school teacher who has written a popular book on
psychology, is invited to be a guest lecturer at Leys Physical Training
College run by a former school friend. After presenting the lecture she
intends returning straight to London but is persuaded by the senior
students and staff to stay, initially for a few days which extends to a
two week holiday. Much of the book is Miss Pym's assessment of the
character and personalities of students and staff that she meets as well
as observations on the activities at the college as the girls prepare
for their final examinations and end of year performance. Josephine Tey
(Elizabeth Mackintosh - her real name) once trained at such a college
which explains the detail in which the activities are described.
This is a slow moving book as the first 150 pages create the atmosphere of life at the college and allowus get to know its participants.
The mystery occurs in the final quarter of the book. Initially there is evidence of cheating
during one of the final exams but this is overshadowed when one of the
girls has a serious accident when practising in the gym and suspicions
arise that it was not an accident. The tension builds in this section
with the inevitable twist at the end. The book poses dilemmas faced with the need to make correct decisions that may or may not create subsequent
consequences and or impact on other people.