Nicola Upson

Faber & Faber pbk £7.99

Released: January 2010

Reviewer: Russell James


Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.


In the world of cosies it’s surprising how uncosy life can be.  Nicola Upson won’t thank me for calling this a cosy but it’s a Cornish mystery, set in 1935, in which family secrets are unearthed by a Scotland Yard inspector returned on holiday.  His semi-platonic lady friend (no surprise to readers of the first in this series) is the real-life crime writer Josephine Tey.  In truth, she brings little to the story: she doesn’t do a Miss Marple, she provides no sex interest (well, would she?) and she’s party to one excruciating moment when near-neighbour Daphne du Maurier is dragged in. 

That apart, we have an entertaining, if eventually over-egged, mystery in which interlinked members of both the actual and the extended family, isolated in their village and manorial estate, behave as a novelist might expect they would.  What really happened in that two-page preface – did the horseman kill himself, fall victim to an accident – or was he pushed?  His twin sister looks after their much younger sister, fourteen, pretty and very fey.  Their parents died in a fire.  And as we’re not surprised to learn, practically everyone has a secret.  The friendly local witch advises the inspector not to meddle ...







Top of page

  Page By Gary Cane        [Contact]  
  Webmaster: Tony 'Grog' Roberts        [Contact]