An Expert in Murder

Written by Nicola Upson
Review by Doug Kemp


This is the first in a projected murder mystery series featuring the author Josephine Tey. There are now many such published books and series based on writers such as E.A. Poe, Jane Austen and others – yet this has a mark of sound quality. The writing is excellent and the tale well plotted and effective.

Josephine is in London in 1934 during the highly successful performance of her play, Richard of Bordeaux at the New Theatre. She is involved in solving two murders associated with the play and the theatre; assisting her is close friend, D.I. Penrose of Scotland Yard. It is a complicated tale with many subplots and roseate herrings. The leitmotif of the novel and ultimate solution can be found in the still malevolent shadow of the Great War, which continues to have a malign influence on most of the main characters – battling against the trauma or the grief that ripped so many lives apart and left such a harsh legacy on British society. Josephine, herself a complex character, was also left a spinster after the death of her lover, and she never married.

This is a profound novel, yet with the delights of an intriguing mystery. I look forward to the forthcoming books in the series.