Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Man in the Queue

The Man in the Queue. Josephine Tey. 1929/1995. Simon & Schuster. 256 pages.

It was between seven and eight o'clock on a March evening, and all over London the bars were being drawn back from pit and gallery doors.

When a man is murdered in a ticket line for a show, it's up to Inspector Alan Grant and others at Scotland Yard to solve the crime. Many things are a mystery in this one. The man's identity, for one. Who is this man? How could people spend hours in line together and not notice the people around them--the people before and behind them. Who murdered this man? What could the motive be for his murder? Why didn't those behind him notice anything?

I was surprised by how much I liked this one. I have always thought I didn't like mysteries. And yet, I found this detective story so enjoyable. I really liked Inspector Grant. And it was more than just the characters, I liked the narrative style too. I liked the way she told this story.
Eagerly he opened it and eagerly skipped the slightly prosy unimportances with which it opened--Bretherton of the scientific side was inclined to be a pompous dogmatist; if you sent him a Persian cat to report on, he would spend the first sheet of foolscap in deciding that its coat was grey and not fawn--and picked out the salient thing. (39)
Isn't that a great description? I loved the prosy unimportances.

I definitely liked this one. I'm so glad I discovered Josephine Tey.

In the introduction to this edition, Robert Barnard made this observation,
Josephine Tey (1896 or 97-1952) is a writer who lives by her works alone...I would hazard the guess that her readers' attitude toward her is different from their attitude toward other classic crime writers: they regard her with love. They give to their favorite Tey novel what they once gave to their favorite books of childhood, to The Wind in the Willows, Little Women, or whatever: unconditional enthusiasm. (7)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Yes, she is just such a good writer, isn't she? And I'm just terribly curious as to whether you've begun "The Daughter of Time" yet, and if so, how you are liking it. L.

Becky said...

Anonymous L., I am over halfway through Daughter of Time. I am LOVING it. I would say that 'unconditional enthusiasm' might just apply :)