In this outing, Inspector Grant has his work cut out for him A famous actress is murdered and the suspect list is long It becomes even longer after her will is read And the only clue they have is a button.
Once again, Josephine Tey writes a classically woven whodunit with threads of different colors and lengths loosely throwing menace and mayhem in many different directions As the story proceeds, those threads are gathered tighter and tighter until a design starts to appear.
This was a very enjoyable read light, but with sufficient heft to set my detecting urges on a jog I didn t solve this one until Inspector Grant made his arrest, but the good news is, I have 4tries in this series to get there before he does This is the second Inspector Alan Grant novel, following on from The Man in the Queue The first novel was written in 1929, while this was published in 1937, which is quite a gap I must admit that, although a lover of Golden Age detective fiction, I have always struggled a little with Tey although I enjoyed thisthan the first book The mystery begins with the discovery of a body on a beach, which turns out to be that of a successful, and beautiful, actress, named Christina Clay although, oddly, nobody seems to recognise her at first Clay has been staying at a cottage, with a man named Robert Tisdall, whom she seems to have just picked up in London and brought along with her Obviously, Tisdall seems the most obvious suspect, but Erica Burgoyne, daughter of the Chief Constable, believes he is innocent and sets out to clear his name.
As Grant sets out to try to find a case against Tisdall, there are a good range of other suspects these include Christina s aristocratic husband, a jovial songwriter victim of some unpleasant anti Semitic remarks by the author , an actress who would like to step into her shoes and a ne er do well brother named Herbert Gotobed understandably, Christina changed her original name of Chris Gotobed, which was probably a good career move Add to this the fact that a psychic, named Lydia Keats, had foreseen Clay s death and Grant is plagued by a journalist named Jammy Hopkins, and the scene is set for an interesting mystery.
This is less a puzzle than most Golden Age mysteries and seemsconcerned with motives than clues Grant is a muchgrounded detectives than others of that era, who worries about things going wrong and does not necessarily know everything automatically However, I just fail to warm to him and find him something of a cold fish There is humour in the novel though having finally made an arrest, his sergeant exclaims that the law should be changed Shocked, Grant asks whether the man is talking about the death penalty, and then finds that his colleague is bemoaning the licensing laws and the fact that the pubs are closed Overall, I enjoyed thisthan the previous novel, but I doubt Tey will ever become one of my favourite authors Rated 3.
5 Group read with English Mysteries Club, June 2014.
What a joy it is to spend a couple of days with Inspector Grant and Josephine Tey Grant is the antithesis of the hard boiled detective My grandmother would say he s a lovely man , a gentle man, a bit of a worrier, someone who instinctively likes people Grant sees his world and its varied and colorful inhabitants with keen insight and good humor Even beyond the pleasure of Grant s company, A Shilling for Candles has such a deliciously likeable cast of characters the hapless young man who is the first suspect and can t even remember his own name dear Erica Burgoyne, the chief constable s daughter Jammy Hopkins, the indefatigable reporter, forever in search of the big scoop theater types from leading ladies, to dumb blonds and chatty song writers It s all so very English, very 1954 and a good deal of fun.
There is next to no suspense here, no chills or thrills except for a few mild frissons on a midnight stake out and the murderer is found in the end almost by accident But Josephine Tey is a master of the craft she draws even the smallest character with care, sketchs an interaction with a few witty lines of dialog, and plants us firmly in a place and time with the most beautiful and economical prose.
The second book featuring Inspector Allan Grant was a group read with the Reading the Detectives group here The body of a young woman is found washed up on the beach, and while briefly thought to be a swimming accident, soon enough, some things begin to puzzle the local police and the Yard is called in, Grant leading the investigation The victim turns out to be Christine Clay, a well known actress who d been living in a small village for a while to get away from things in London She doesn t seem to have any obvious enemies but there is an actress who will step into her shoes once she s out of the way, a possible lover, and a good for nothing brother, who few knew she had he s been involved in various suspicious activities, and there was no love lost between the two Then there is also a penniless young man, Robert Tisdall, who had squandered away his own fortune, and who Chris took pity on and took in, but what motive could he possibly have But most surprising of all, an astrologer of sorts had predicted nearly a year ago that Christine s end was near Grant tracks down and interviews various people connected with Chris her husband, co actors, so called friends, and digs into her past looking for possible suspects and motives, in a sense making iton the lines of a police procedural As in the first book, he does start off on the wrong track, acting contrary to his own intuition He loses his chief suspect who gives him the slip quite easily Tey seems to suggest that criminals DON T usually escape Grant which seems a bit odd since the main suspect in book 1 managed to do this too Grant is no extraordinary Sherlock Holmes or Poirot type detective He is an ordinary but efficient policeman, reasonably clever pursuing every lead and interpreting what he finds to solve his case The denouement here was interesting and not as abrupt as in the first book Another surprise reveal at the end was a bit abrupt though there was some background for it but not enough for one to guess.
What made this book enjoyable for me was Erica Burgoyne, the sixteen in some places in the book seventeen year old daughter of the Chief Constable who is spunky, clever, and resourceful and plays quite an active role in the investigation, at least part of it it is Grant who finally solves the case, though I only just found that this book was the basis for a Hitchcock film where the romance angle between Tisdall and Erica is played up from the book though, I felt she admired Grant, not Tisdall.
Overall, this one proved to be a farinteresting and enjoyable read for me than the first Inspector Grant book.
really, it s around a 3.
6 rounded up This is my second time with this book, and I got muchout of it this time around than the last, which is generally the case with me I think the huge difference was that this time I also hadinsight into the author herself I have to be honest so far my favorite of the rereads has been her The Franchise Affair in my very humble opinion, it s among the best of her mysteries and A Shilling for Candles doesn t rate as highly as that one That doesn t mean it s not good, just less enjoyable for me personally Having just recently finished Jennifer Morag Henderson s excellent biography of the author, Josephine Tey A Life which I ll be talking about here very shortly , I find myself completely in agreement with her thea Tey reader understands about her life, the easier it is to appreciate and to understand her work I wish the biography had come out sooner now I feel like I ought to go back and rereadof Tey s crime novels for better perspective.
The supposed suicide of actress Christine Clay turns out to be a murder in this novel, and a ready made suspect is on hand, supposedly making things easy for Inspector Grant However, the suspect flees, and while the suspect is being hunted, Grant finds himself having to examine different lines of inquiry that move him into the shallow world of celebrity, the dead woman s personal history, religious strangeness, and they even take him into the realm of out there astrology before the truth is at last revealed And I have to say, I seriously didn t see that ending coming a complete surprise.
Getting back to why knowing something of Tey s life helps to put things into better perspective as a reader, I could easily see how much of Tey s experiences had an impact on her character creations As just one example without giving anything away , Tey had made lifelong friends among a group of women in the theater world, women she d come to know in her work as playwright Gordon Daviot One of these women was Marda Vanne, whose fictional counterpart Marta Hallard turns up inthan one Tey novel as an actress friend of Grant s As another example, when Christine Clay s will is read, it turns out that she s left money to the National Trust, for the preservation of the beauty of England Tey did the same in her will Plus, there s the central focus on the pitfalls of fame and fortune in this novel that may play off of Tey s own reluctance to be in the public limelight.
Recommended to people who enjoy vintage crime, but do be aware that many of Tey s ideas in this novel do not conform to modern PC sensitivities Frankly, I don t really give a fig about whether or not a book written in the 1930s conforms to today s standards of correctness , but I have read reader responses that include complaints about this issue, so you ve been warned Overall a good read, not great, but it was fun getting to the end.
I enjoyed reading this well written crime novel I liked the characters and thought they were very well drawn especially Erica who proves herself extremely resourceful I thought the book was well plotted with plenty of suspects and plenty of clues and red herrings I didn t work out who the murderer was but when I looked back over the book the clues were there I d simply not given them the importance they actually had.
This book is part of the Alan Grant series but the books in this series can be read as standalone novels and read in any order.
5 Can t make it 5 as the clues weren t there for the reader to solve themselves although Tey did lead one up the garden path I do love a good garden path wander Mysterious and charismatic actress Christine Clay is found drowned Initial evidence points a charming young wastrel that Clay recently befriended but is Robin Tisdall the guilty party Or is it someone from the past that Clay has been reinventing And she used to tell a different story each time When someone pointed out that that wasn t what she had said last time, she said But that s so dull I ve thought of a much better one I m glad I read this on my kindle as I was constantly looking up different words expressions I now know that rend me downs are the same as hand me downs But I m hoping someone from the Reading the Detectives group can explain the significance of a King s Writ This novel was also wittier than the other Tey s I have read And Hopkins, seeing that Tisdall was unaware of Grant s identity, rushed in with glad maliciousness That is Scotland Yard, he said Inspector Grant Never had an unsolved crime to his name I hope you write my obituary, Grant said I hope I do the journalist said, with fervor.
Tey also seemed to be exploring the injustices of the class system and racism rather than condoning it.
At a scant 195 pages this was told at a brisk pace I very much prefer this to some of the bloated modern mysteries.