Angel with Two Faces

Written by Nicola Upson
Review by Marina Oliver

This is the second novel featuring crime writer, Josephine Tey as a sleuth. She is invited to visit the Cornish home of Inspector Archie Penrose, an old friend. On this estate she finds an inward-looking community in which a number of people are harbouring secrets. These are gradually revealed after one young man drowns and another disappears. When a third young man is murdered Archie is invited to investigate. He knows the people, but is torn between discovering the truth and harming his friends.

The novel is beautifully evocative of the landscape, centring on the Loe Pool and the Penrose estate which is now under the management of the National Trust. Set in the 1920s, it shows how the effects of the ’14-18 war linger, both with the people who survived and the estate. The historical detail is unobtrusively sparse but the atmosphere and attitudes of the time are authentic.

The story concerns a group of villagers where every family seems to have some tragedy which affects them, or a dangerous secret to hide. Multi-layered, the emphasis is more on how each person reacts to events than detection but, between them, Josephine and Archie tease out the secrets. A satisfying read.