It’s Summer 1936 and Josephine joins her friends in the holiday village of Portmeirion to celebrate her fortieth birthday.
Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, are also there having a party whilst wanting to discuss the signing of a deal to film Josephine’s novel, A Shilling for Candles. Hitchcock has one or two tricks to keep the holiday party entertained, which appears to be about exposing their deepest fears - until the death of a party guest. One of Hollywood's leading actresses is found brutally slashed in a cemetery near the village, which sets off a number of other violent interludes. Chief Inspector Archie Penrose, on scene for Josephine’s birthday, is not happy with the way the crime is dealt with and it was never fully resolved.
Moving on several years, when Archie is older and Josephine dead, he is pulled back to the scene of the crime and now manages uncover the truth.
Fear in the Sunlight is the latest in Nicola Upson’s series using real life crime writer, Josephine Tey, as her protagonist. Although I have read the ‘real’ Josephine’s books, albeit some time ago now, and heard various discussions about her, I don’t know how true to life her depiction is and was not entirely convinced at the portrayal of Hitchcock either, but it does not really matter in for plot purposes.
The book starts in the future with an older Archie being pulled back to the original scene of the crime, a happy period of time spent with Josephine and other friends in Portmeirion for her birthday celebrations. It moves back to the past and takes us through the various events, with differing points of view and then moves back and forth as Archie re-visits a place he never thought to come back to whilst remembering the first time.
As the story unfolds, it is cosily suspenseful and full of twists that ultimately reveal all the kept secrets and therefore the truth. I am not sure if Josephine actually is the story or the ‘pin’ that everything revolves round, but regardless, it is an enjoyable novel set in another era and beautiful setting that I would have liked to see at its peak.