First sentence: 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. Bang, thud, and clank. Grim sounds to preface an evening's amusement.
Premise/plot: Some murder mysteries make you wait for the murder to occur. That is not the case with Josephine Tey's The Man in the Queue. In the first chapter, the body is discovered. As the line--the queue--moves forward, a man collapses to the ground: he's dead. He was murdered--stabbed--while in line. Inspector Grant faces days of frustration before a few clues come to light. How could a man be murdered in public--with dozens of possible witnesses--and no one notice a thing?!
My thoughts: The Man in the Queue was the very first mystery novel I ever read. I enjoyed it well enough to become enthusiastic about a new-to-me genre. I have since read all the Inspector Grant books in the series. The Daughter of Time is my favorite and best. Not just my favorite and best Grant novel, but my favorite mystery of all time. (Those that have read it may question the appeal since this mystery takes place while Grant is in the hospital, and the mystery is centuries old. But I stand by my choice.) I would recommend The Man in the Queue.
"Are you hurt?" Grant asked.
"Only my ribs," said Struwwelpeter. "The abnormal excitation of the intercostal muscles has nearly broken them." He struggled to his feet.
"Well, that's twenty minutes wasted," said Grant, "but I had to satisfy myself." He followed the hobbling artist through the dark passage again.
"No time is wasted that earns such a wealth of gratitude as I feel for you," said Struwwelpeter. "I was in the depths when you arrived. I can never paint on Monday mornings. There should be no such thing. Monday mornings should be burnt out of the calendar with prussic acid. And you have made a Monday morning actually memorable! It is a great achievement. Sometime when you are not too busy breaking the law, come back, and I'll paint your portrait. You have a charming head."
A thought occurred to Grant. "I suppose you couldn't draw Sorrell from memory?"
His heart did not jump—that would be doing him an injustice; C.I.D. hearts are guaranteed not to jump, tremble, or otherwise misbehave even when the owner is looking down the uncompromising opening of a gun-barrel—but it certainly was guilty of unauthorized movement. It may have been resentment at his own weakness in being taken aback by a photograph, but Grant's eyes were very hard as he looked at the smiling face—that famous, indeterminate smile. And though his mouth may have curved, he was not smiling as he read the many captions: "Miss Ray Marcable, a studio photograph"; "Miss Marcable as Dodo in Didn't You Know?"; "Miss Marcable in the Row"; and lastly, occupying half the centre page, "Miss Marcable departs from Waterloo en route for Southampton"; and there was Ray, one dainty foot on the step of the Pullman, and her arms full of flowers.
"Well, Inspector," he said, "how are you getting on? Do you know, you and dentists must be the most unhappy people in the world. No one sees you without remembering unpleasant things."
"Tut, tut, Grant, you've been at the Yard for I don't know how many years, and you're looking at this late stage for reasonable murders.© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews