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Publisher's Summary

It's March 1934, and Josephine Tey is travelling from Scotland to London to celebrate what should be the triumphant final week of her celebrated play, Richard of Bordeaux.

However, a seemingly senseless murder puts her reputation, and even her life, under threat...

©2008 Nicola Upson; (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd

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  • Overall
  • Karen
  • 01-17-09

Superb!

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.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Gina
  • 12-14-13

A brilliantly creative murder mystery

If you could sum up An Expert In Muder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1 in three words, what would they be?

Enthralling - Shocking - Inventive.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

What does Sandra Duncan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • nicole
  • 09-26-15

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • janet
  • 09-04-15

disappointing

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Terenia J Wieclawski
  • 01-24-17

Very bad

Compared to the old mystery writers; Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie etc, terrible. Boring, predictable and just plain dull.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gill H
  • 11-03-15

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Flint
  • 09-07-17

Very well read.

This was a very enjoyable book and I was pleasantly surprised by the ability and versatility of the narrator; she brought the diverse cast of characters to life and her narration greatly enhanced the book.

The plot was interesting with lots of twists and turns and the main characters were well drawn and interesting. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

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  • jackie S
  • 08-06-17

Well read but dull story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was ok but certainly not great

What will your next listen be?

Don't know yet

What about Sandra Duncan’s performance did you like?

This was very good most voices and accents well done

Could you see An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1 being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

No

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  • Sooz333
  • 06-14-17

Excellent story

What did you like most about An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1?

Some of the issues it deals with are quite dark but was dealt with in a palatable manor , especially given the time it is set in. The place involved were so descriptive you could see them in your minds eye, the characters are also different in their own way , their personalities makes you feel like you know them and care about them. Equally interesting is the fact that Josephine actually existed and I feel she writes with sensitivity and is the champion always of Tey . Great story wonderful writing.

What other book might you compare An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1 to, and why?

I would say she has her own style and weavers her story so well you have to keep turning the page which I find refreshing but Anything by Agatha Christie,P.D.James, Ruth Rendell Barbara Erskine, Sarah Walters however, I find her a very intelligent writer , usually I can know the killer very quickly but I have to work harder to figure it out. It also makes you want to find out more of the subject or people that she has drawn from. Any book that makes you want to know more is a good thing . Very imaginative writing, and the historical background well researched.

Which character – as performed by Sandra Duncan – was your favourite?

Defiantly Tay herself, she has a dry wit and doesn't know how funny she is at times, but she is calm in a crises, I like her.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It certainly made me think about the lost generation in the Great War and how things socially changed between the classes specially on estates with grand houses and how tight knit some communities are. Some parts made me sad.

Any additional comments?

I have already bought the other books in the series so far as I want to see how the characters progress and Nicola Upson writes so well and the books are enjoyable to read or listen too, if you have discovered this writer then if you love murder mystery with historical fact it's a must for you.

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  • Bryan M
  • 08-25-16

Brilliant

A great book for anyone who love's old time 'who done it's' with a touch of class and a lot of skill.