Summer, 1936: Writer Josephine Tey joins her friends in Portmeirion, meeting with Alfred Hitchcock to sign a film deal. Hitchcock has a few tricks planned to keep the party entertained, but things get out of hand when a Hollywood actress is brutally murdered. As fear and suspicion take over, Chief Inspector Archie Penrose becomes unsatisfied with the investigation. Several years later another horrific murder drives Penrose back to Portmeirion to uncover the shocking truth.
©2012 Nicola Upson (P)2003 W F Howes Ltd
I've read the previous Tey novels and will read the new one soon, but here's the thing. I keep thinking I'm going to give each of them five stars as I read, and then, once I'm done, I can't in full honesty give them more than four.
I got to Nicola Upson by searching for Agatha Christie-like novels. Someone recommended her as similar on some forum. With Fear in the Sunlight, it all started like a Christie mystery - not the "later" part of the '50s, but the setting, the hotel, the guests, the two parties being gathered together. But what Christie does schematically, in twenty-five pages, Upson does in - well, it was an audiobook so I don't know exactly how many, but it felt like half of the book. She does it extremely well, no question: the people and circumstances come alive, and it does capture your attention.
The problem is what happens afterwards: so much energy is spent on creating the backdrop of the murders, that very little is left for the actual mystery. And the solutions to her mysteries, though not bad, are never quite as clever or plausible as everything else in the book. Other than that, they're great, and the narrator is excellent.
"Tortuous plot lines finally defeat listener"
A patient person whose written notes and diagrams attempting to make sense of the connections/ secrets/names/ illnesses/addictions..all of these factors and more..were better drafted than mine. I am still looking at the diagram and trying to work out how the last lines of the novel are possible in the light of my diagrams, faux films, faux letters...it's too much.
Sorry. I give up. I had persisted even though chatty, exclaiming dialogue is very tedious, especially in an audible only medium. The novelty has utterly worn off.
No. Enough. Everything in this novel seemed to hinge on being able to follow the dialogue, as characterised by this actor because that is all the earnest listener has to try and draw some accurate conclusions. Scottish, Welsh, American, class differences...all the accents required in this production were out of this actor's range.
David Lascelles, Jack Spence, Mr Franks,Mr Turnbull's alter ego, Astrid Lake ( where did she go?,) Branwyn and her Mum and her caretaker, her son, her Aunt, ..my list could go on. Actually..come to think of it, perhaps I would have approved of the movie in the novel..the one made by the faux Mr Hitchcock, not the other faux movie..you see what I mean?
A yes..and jettison the porn star nun.
How difficult the balance is between providing a compelling, complex but satisfying listen with only a few too easy to spot resolutions presented by an authoritative, fine writer. This novel did not achieve a much wished for balance.
"So confusing, unlike the previous three"
The way the story is set out does not work at all in an audio format. The first time they time jumped with no warning I assumed I'd accidentally fast forwarded to another chapter and spent ages trying to work out where I should be in the recording. The random jumps were very confusing and with the ending being what it was I felt the whole thing was amazingly anticlimactic. Because of this, having heard the murderer's confession I didn't realise it was actually real until the book had almost finished. It's a shame as the basis of the story is as good as the other books.
"disappointing and confusing"
Fewer characters, a less confusing plot.
It was OK but not brilliant.
Deep disappointment. I had enjoyed Nicola Upson's other Tey books but this one was so confusing I found it really hard to know what was going on. If I'd had a physical book I could have flipped back to see who was who and what was what, but with a huge cast of characters, many of whom seemed quite implausibly related, I just couldn't work it all out. What a shame.
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