Inspector Alan Grant searches for the identity of a man killed in the line at a theater and for the identity of the killer—whom no one saw.
A long line had formed for the standing-room-only section of the Woffington Theatre. London’s favorite musical comedy of the past two years was finishing its run at the end of the week. Suddenly, the line began to move, forming a wedge before the open doors as hopeful theatergoers nudged their way forward. But one man, his head sunk down upon his chest, slowly sank to his knees and then, still more slowly, keeled over on his face. Thinking he had fainted, a spectator moved to help, but recoiled in horror from what lay before him: the man in the queue had a small silver dagger neatly plunged into his back. With the wit and guile that have made Inspector Grant a favorite of mystery fans, the inspector sets about discovering just how a murder occurred among so many witnesses, none of whom saw a thing.
Since I liked the first Inspector Alan Grant book I read,1 I decided to go back to the beginning and read the actual first book: The Man in the Queue.
First impression: Grant must have either been in a lot of pain in The Daughter of Time, or he became super grumpy between this book and number 5. In this first book he’s charming and witty and light-hearted! Compared to TDOT!Grant, this one’s practically spitting out rainbows and unicorns every time he speaks.
I like both versions of Grant, because he’s one of those characters who has to solve mysteries or he’ll die. I like it when detectives are devoted to the cause (though it can get depressing if that’s ALL they’re devoted to). It’s nice to read about passionate people.
Also, Grant’s just fun. He’s smart and kind and I enjoyed watching him solve the murder.
Second impression: holy crap this is a good book.
I’m so used to trying to solve mysteries ahead of characters that when I don’t manage to do it AND I genuinely enjoy the answer, I know I’ve hit upon a good thing. Too often mysteries try to be tricky and end up annoying because they try too hard. Josephine Tey wrote tricky mysteries that look effortless AND are heaps of fun. She gives you all the clues you need to solve it yourself, but presents them in such a way that you forget about them until she drags them into the light at the end.
It’s kind of like playing a game! The “dodge all those red herrings” game. Playful authors are fantastic. I love this series and I adore Josephine Tey. Huzzah!
Read: October 28-31, 2014
- which was actually the fifth in the series, though I don’t think you necessarily have to read them in order ↩