Saturday, November 30, 2013

An expert in murder

Nicola Upson's first book has playwright and author, Josephine Tey, as the main character in this detective novel. In 1934 Josephine is travelling by train from Inverness to London when she meets Elspeth, a fan of Josphine's play, Richard of Bordeaux, about to end a long run on the London stage. The two women become friends during the journey and arrange to meet again at the theatre. When Elspeth is murdered Detective Inspector Archie Penrose investigates the case and becomes convinced that the murder is connected in some way with his friend, Josephine Tey, and her play.

In this book the author describes theatre life in the 1930s and the reader meets actors and other people associated with putting on a successful play as well as learning of the jealousies occurring behind the scenes. This is a work of fiction although some of the theatrical characters can be identified. Josephine Tey is really a pseudonym for Elizabeth Macintosh and when she wrote Richard of Bordeaux she used George Daviot as a pen-name. One review of the book is written by a woman whose mother, aunt and father worked on the play and she recognised them in the characters and also recognised the description of the theatre. Archie Penrose is based on Alan Grant, the detective in a number of Josephine Tey's books. The author has therefore successfully interwoven fact and fiction to create the environment for this murder mystery. Set in the early 1930s a theme throughout sections of the book is the continued impact of World War I on the lives of the survivors.

This is the first book in a series and I will look out for other titles to read.

No comments: