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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
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