Friday, April 28, 2017

The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey

I was already an admirer of Josephine Tey because of  The Franchise Affair (reviewed here), but The Singing Sands knocked my fandom up to the next level.

Alan Grant works for Scotland Yard and is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He catches a train, looking forward to a much needed vacation, only to discover a dead body in compartment B-7.

Who is the dead man? How and why did he die? Typical questions for a mystery novel. But the book diverges from the commonplace with it's atypical detective. The protagonist makes this novel twice as interesting as he struggles with his various demons. Conversations he has with his alter ego are laugh-out-loud funny. Even after the name of the dead man becomes known, in Grant's mind he is often referred to as "B-7." I loved how the mystery helped lead him to healing and wholeness.

All of the characters are wonderfully drawn. The writing is top-notch:

Grant had the island to himself, and for five days in the company of the whooping wind, he quartered his bleak kingdom. It was rather like walking a bad-mannered dog; a dog that rushes past you on narrow paths, leaps on you in ecstasy so that you are nearly knocked over, and drags you from the direction in which you want to go. (p. 86)

Charmingly British, The Singing Sands was Tey's last novel. Alas, no more Alan Grant! In spite of some off-color language, this is a splendid read.



Carol said...

Very enticing review! I've read Daughter of Time & my older girls have enjoyed some of Tey's other books (Brat Farrar, especially) so she's been on my wishlist for awhile. Unfortunately, her titles used to be in our local library but have disappeared & her books are not that easy to come by here.

Susan @ Reading World said...

I should read another book by Tey. I've only read Daughter of Time and enjoyed it. This sounds like a detective to follow.

Beth said...

You should definitely check out Brat Farrar. It is a very unique mystery.

hopeinbrazil said...

Hooray! Beth, I already have it in both book and audiobook versions!

Genevieve said...

Good review of my favourite Josephine Tey novel 'The Singing Sands'. Have loved this novel since I first read it years ago - the characterisation is top notch, especially of Tey's interesting and realistic detective, Insp. Alan Grant, and a whole lot of others ranging from Murdo the Sleeping Car Attendant (based on Tey's own unpopular uncle!) to Grant's young cousin Pat and his family in Scotland. As you point out it also contains a fair bit of humour.

Not a criticism - but what is the bad language you refer to? I really don't remember any!

hopeinbrazil said...

Genevieve, I'm sure it was just a few "damns" or "hells". Can't remember the exact words.