However, a seemingly senseless murder puts her reputation, and even her life, under threat...
©2008 Nicola Upson; (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd
I love murder mysteries set in the theatre of the 1930s/40s - so am a fan of Ngaio Marsh, for example. Reading books written in that period - like watching films made then - requires something of a mindshift, from present-day sensibilities to the attitudes and beliefs which prevailed at that time. However, An Expert in Murder, set in the theatreworld of the 1930s, but written very recently, combines that cosy period feel with contemporary sensibilities, which makes it much more than a nostalgic read.
Narration is simply first class, characterisation is superb and the evocation of pre-War theatrical life is wonderful. The story twists and turns and, although I actually spotted the culprit fairly early on, there were enough red herrings to keep me not entirely certain of my conclusion until - most satisfyingly - I was proved right, and celebrated the resulting smugness with a cup of tea and several biscuits.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story continues beyond the reveal of the villain. At first this was disconcerting - the party was over, so why couldn't we all go home? But then it suddenly seemed to work, and it was good to know what happened once the mystery was over.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
"A brilliantly creative murder mystery"
Enthralling - Shocking - Inventive.
It's difficult to choose between Archie and Josephine - their relationship creates the same tensions and delights that are found between Dorothy L Sayers' Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.
Sandra Duncan creates an individual and instantly recognisable voice for each character, coupled with expressive and precise narration. I listened over an extended period of time, wanting to suspend reality for as long as possible! Each time I listened, I joined the characters eagerly not only to find out what happened next, but to enjoy their company.
Without wanting to give anything away, the murder near the beginning was unexpected and made me gasp with disbelief. Nicola Upson creates convincing, rounded characters and by the time the action begins the reader has engaged with everyone who has been introduced, and it feels as though the victim is known personally to the reader.
I have resisted buying subsequent novels by Nicola Upson in print as Sandra Duncan's reading is so compelling in recreating the world of the fictitious Josephine Tey for the audience.
"Quite a gentle period piece."
Lots of threads to the story pulled together to bring an interesting end to the story. I liked the characters and the setting.
A nice easy listening experience.
"Absorbing and sublime"
Satisfying on so many levels. From the start Upson's characters are there, fully formed. It felt like returning to a series and a world that I already knew, the middle of a conversation I was already part of; immediately absorbing. The main characters are engaging, human; flawed and likeable - testament to the skill of both the author and the narrator. I loved the whole thing. It was one of those stories that I listened to at every opportunity in my day - not just the usual journey to and from work times. Then to discover that it is a fictionalised element of the lives of a real author, some real people, a real play, an actual theatre makes it all the more intriguing. I'm now off to order the real Josephine Tey's mystery books and John Guilgood's autobiography to read. And of course, about to start listening to the next audible installment of the series. Why have you missed out number 2 Audible? It's very frustrating!
"An Expert in Murder"
More of a novel exploring emotional dynamics than a detective story, like Josephine Tey's output.
I disliked the preachiness about attitudes to illegitimacy and traditional attitudes to marriage and its implied criticisms of Christian opinions. It is too often forgotten that historically, all a man had to go on to show that a child his wife had and that he had to support was his, was her track record of faithfulness. Furthermore, poor people took a dim view of single motherhood because it was they who had to support the mother and child when they had a hard time feeding their own children. This book is an attack on marriage using an extreme as an example. And it could have been improved by being shortened a lot.
"A real whodunnit!"
This book is wonderfully written and perfectly read. If you like the intregue of a good old fashioned whodunnit, with lovely characters like a beautiful Rosmund Pilcher, this is for you! The reader has a wonderfully soothing voice and really captures the era. This book is greatly atmospheric and painted with a wonderful array of soft tones.
The main character Josephine is perfect, gentle, kind, but never shying away.
Love the accent too! However I will always hold a soft spot for Archie Penrose (DI)
There are many good scenes in this, I can't write too much about my favourite bits for fear of giving too much away, however I love the London scene of that period, splashes of Downton grand staging and charm can be felt.
I think Upson writes all her characters with such care, that scenes between them make you feel that you are peering into intimate moments in those character's lives.
This and the others in the series i'd recommend, I really enjoyed book 3 also read by the same actress! (Two for sorrow)
I found this difficult to follow as my mind wandered off so much and I had to keep winding back. It didn't grab my attention at all and I was relieved when it was over. On the plus side, the reader was very good.
Not read the print version
Dubious about this, having enjoyed all Josephine Tey's books, but bought it based on reviews. I was very pleased with it and will get others in the series. Narrator also excellent.
"I wasn't inspired!"
This novel might have been OK if I had read it myself. To be honest I didn't find the plot very interesting - the main character (Josephine Tey) was dull in the extreme and the other characters were all pretty stereotypical. The most disappointing part, however, was the narrator. Perhaps we are often spoiled at Audible - the last two books I listened to had excellent storytellers - but I found the narrator here to be uninspiring. I think it says it all when you can't remember who characters are when you try and pick the story up again at a later date. Sorry to be negative, but I wouldn't want anyone else to be disappointed.
Kept me guessing till last couple of chapters, then had to finish as not sure I guessed right. Storyline believable but relationship between the lead mail and female left to imagination.
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