Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Snowbound Reading

Having ventured out at last to fetch home a loaf of bread & other eatables, I'm now in for good.  So with my ham sandwich and hot coco, I'm going to settle down and reread a bit of Josephine Tey.  She is my favorite mystery writer, and she might be yours too if you give her a try.

Her real name was  Elizabeth Macintosh, though she adopted more than one nom de plume.  She was of perhaps the last generation of professional women writers who found it simpler at first to be published under a masculine name.  She had, for example, great success as a playwright under the name Gordon Daviot when she wrote Richard of Bordeaux, which was a smash hit for John Gielgud in 1932.  Macintosh took to mystery writing, a more established genre for women, as Josephine Tey, publishing her first novel under that name in 1929.  Not being a particular fan of the genre, she wrote her mysteries entirely to suit herself, famously not even doing anyone in in one of my favorites, Miss Pym Disposes, until the book was nearly two thirds through!

She did invent a superb hero in Detective Inspector Grant, featuring him in five novels, including The Daughter of Time, wherein, laid up "in hospital," he enlists various associates to help him solve the historical mystery of the murder of the Princes in the Tower.
                                                                                                                                           Today I think I'll go again to The Singing Sands, set in Scotland, and again featuring Grant, this time recovering from what we might now call a nervous breakdown.

Josephine Tey may not have been specially concerned with the puzzle-making that usually constitutes the chief virtue of the whodunit, so purists may not find in her a favorite, but for any reader willing to spend a cold afternoon or two in her company, the pleasures of this witty and inventive writer will be richly rewarded.

Coco and murder sounds just right for today in Seattle.

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