Inspector Archie Penrose has invited Josephine Tey to his family home in Cornwall, a struggling but beautiful country estate on a magnificent stretch of coastline. But death clouds the holiday from the outset.
When the local theatre proves to be a stage for real-life tragedy, Archie's loyalties are divided between his friends and his job, and he and Josephine must confront the violent reality which lies beneath a seemingly idyllic community...
©2009 Nicola Upson; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
As a Josephine Tey fan, I quite enjoyed the first in Nicola Upson's series, "An Expert in Murder," which featured Ms Tey as protagonist. By the end of it I was thinking, "Fine, Gay Crime Fiction; a non-event, really." Ms Upson has undeniable talent.
I'm not going to finish "Angel with Two Faces." You know that annoyed feeling you get when the author seems to be pushing a personal agenda? The author also repeatedly denigrates Christian belief. It's irritating being patronized. Can't we just get on with the plot?
In the case of "Angel with Two Faces," the "twist" is a sickly sweet justification of a long-term incestuous relationship between twins. After all, "love" is all that matters, right?
Too much for me. It's also completely unrealistic to the 1930s that everyone except the most repressed or villainous would sympathise with these characters.
It's not often that I stop reading in disgust. As a mystery lover, there's the usually-overriding desire to know "who dunnit." Not this time.
"Solid whodunnit ruined by anachronisms.."
..and the sunday-supplement therapy-speak mouthed by almost everybody in the story. I can take the odd misplaced 'okay' or shades of obviously 21st century attitudes but it was really hard to listen to Philip Roth length expositions filled with a complexity of language and, what I suppose you could call psychological insights, that would not be available to a minimally educated person in the inter-war period. (They were nearly as eloquent as the definitely uneducated main character in 'the Nature of Monsters' whose narrative voice was so jarring I couldn't get through the book.) I had to fast-forward the long conversation between Morwenna and Penrose as it was as ridiculous as it was melodramatic. (I won't give details as it would spoil the story - suffice to say it was like listening to a erudite though glib self-help book for women in self-destructive relationship. Or should that be co-dependent relationships? There's also a very obvious dichotomy between the predisposition towards 'understanding' and the secret-squirrel behaviour endemic in the 'community'. I found it hard to like most of the characters or even care about their fates. I certainly has no empathy with the besotted duo at the centre of the story. They were as selfish and sleazy a pair as any you'd see on a daytime chat-and-fight show today - and not for the obvious reason that will become evident if you listen to the book. On the plus side, I like the Josephine Tey character though I often wished she'd let rip at Morwenna and the other M - the witchy one who seems to do the thinking for everybody in the village. Also, the reader was excellent. She seemed to me to manage all the accents, though I'm sure that there will be people who disagree, and even pulled off the male voices without sounding like a pantomine prince charming.
"Not as good as An Expert in Murder"
Only quite a good read and not as good as An Expert in Murder. Sandra Duncan reads the book as if all the characters are suffering from tremendous anxt (which they are) but it?s a bit unrelenting. There is no light and shade! The detective part of the story is pretty unconvincing while Upson does not really develop her protagonists. This may be a fundamental problem with choosing a real person as a central character. We know too much about Tey for the author to be able develop her as a romantic or intellectual heroine.
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