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An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey, #1)
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An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey #1)

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  1,235 ratings  ·  223 reviews
March 1934. Revered mystery writer Josephine Tey is traveling from Scotland to London for the final week of her play Richard of Bordeaux, the surprise hit of the season, with pacifist themes that resonate in a world still haunted by war. But joy turns to horror when her arrival coincides with the murder of a young woman she had befriended on the train ride—and Tey is plung ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published May 20th 2008)
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Things that annoyed me about this book:

1. The ridiculous overuse of the word "lover".
2. The introduction of an enormous amount of characters with little or no purpose.
3. The main character (Josephine Tey) was extremely dull -- she didn't like being open or personal with anyone, including many if not all of her closest friends, though we are to feel sorry for her because she has suffered a horrible tragedy. Nor is she particularly friendly or kind, except of course when she inexplicably became
Jun 30, 2008 CLM rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Tey, Ngaio Marsh, Charles Todd
Not only did I enjoy the writing style, I felt immediately fond of the heroine although I am still perplexed by the concept of writing a book about Josephine Tey, who isn't exactly a real person in that this was one of the pseudonyms used by Elizabeth Mackintosh.

I do recommend this highly. In some ways, it felt as if Tey could have written it and I was sad when it ended.
I'm generally suspicious of crime novels that take real people and plunk them down in a series of murders, but in this one, Upson has captured beautifully the era and the person of Josephine Tey. I look forward to more.
What a disappointment. When I spotted this book and noticed it was concerning the writer Jospehine Tey I thought it had great potential.

How wrong could I be? Starting reasonably well with a good atmosphere it degenerated into something that I was unable to follow and left me wondering what was happening and why.

Okay there was murder but I couldn't understand why, even at the end of the book, which did have some reasonable moments but overall was dull and uninteresting.
Parts of this book were fine. I loved the setting and the author's desciptions of London during the 1930's. Overall, though, I can't really recommend it. I grew weary of all the characters, who were "theater people" and were awful humans. I just didn't really care about them. The laborious intertwinings of all the disfunctional families were difficult to keep straight. I don't think I bothered to finish it.
A friend dropped this book off for me because she knew I am a Josephine Tey (Elizabeth Macintosh) fan, as she is. We both love The Daughter of Time (which some think of as the best English mystery). She found this book which includes Tey as one of its characters, in London to see the last performances of her play, Richard of Bordeaux. A young woman, with whom she travels down from Inverness to London, is murdered soon after their arrival. Then begins the assortment of likely murderers, all surro ...more
This would have been a three-star (***) rating, except for the way the story includes an appearance by and revolves around events in the life of mystery writer Josephine Tey. In real-life, Elizabeth Mackintosh used the pseudonym Josephine Tey for her mystery novels starring Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, who is embodied in this book by Inspector Archire Penrose, an old friend of both Tey's and her deceased fiancee, from before the Great War.

Mackintosh also used another pseudonym, Gordon Da
Tell you what. Been definitely getting my murder mystery fix lately. I bought this on a whim. I needed an "X" book quickly. I couldn't find one anywhere, and then ended up in the bookshop at my work. I saw this. It was expensive (I hardly ever pay full Aussie retail for books. Why spend $30 on a new paperback when I can buy it online for $10 or less?) but I was borderline desperate. And I figured if I didn't like it, Mum probably would so it could be a present for her.

So I read it. It is set in
There seems to be a sub-genre in mystery books in which one of the main characters is an historical (non-fictional) figure involved in solving the case (such as Jane Austen or Eleanor Roosevelt). This book is the first in a series with author Josephine Tey as a central character. Josephine Tey is actually one of two pseudonyms used by Elizabeth Mackintosh: she used Josephine Tey when writing mystery novels and Gordon Daviot when writing plays. In Nicola Upson's novel she is consistently referred ...more
It would be difficult to fault the research or the writing in this novel, as both are of a very high standard. The plot was well thought out and executed, with some intriguing twists and turns along the way to resolution. Overall, however, I really felt that while parts were very good, others were unconvincing and as a whole it didn't quite work.

I found the blend of fact and fiction rather awkward and unsatisfying. There were elements that stuck very closely to the truth - Richard of Bordeaux wa
An Expert in Murder is a quite a good book, but in many ways, it's a victim to its own complications. There's a great deal going on with it, so let me give a brief summary, get into some of its stumbling blocks, and then close with why you really should read it anyway.

Josephine Tey, a Scottish writer and playwright, is traveling by train to London in the 1930s for the final week that her play, Richard of Bordeaux, will be playing in the West End. While on the train, she meets Elspeth Simmons, a
This book read very much like a first novel: great ideas, but a bit lacking in execution. I thought the solution to the mystery itself very clever, and enjoyed how the clues were laced through the narrative, but the characterization and dialog were a bit stiff and the overall prose occasionally awkward. Really, there's never a need to use the phrase "All in all" in a non-dialog sense.

Otherwise, I thought it was a well-researched and well-plotted look at 1930s England and the ways in which The Gr
An enjoyable murder mystery set in the London theatrical community of the 1930's that combines factual historical elements with the author's fictional creations, and uses the real life author/playwrite Josephine Tey as the catalyst in the tale......although the actual investigating is left in the capable hands of Scotland Yard Inspector Archie Penrose.

The multiple murder storylines utilize unusual methods for dispatching the murder victims, a cast of characters ranging from cold and callous to
Paul Dumont
Nicola Upson re-imagines ‘Josephine Tey’ as a character on the fringes of a murder mystery staged to during the final week’s run of her play, Richard of Bordeaux. An interesting central idea weakened by a couple of things -- a) it does go on and on (Ngaio Marsh would have wrapped up the intrigues in West End theatreland in under 200 pages) and b) plot points I'd already become familiar with (although to be fair in a book written after this) in The Return of Captain John Emmett (and which both ow ...more
An Expert in Murder adequately entertained me during several long plane rides, but it wasn't interesting enough to compel me to continue on with the rest of the series. The main characters were rather boring but I liked the period detail as well as the intimate lowdown on the catty, cutthroat London theatre life. I guessed early on who the "bad guy" was but there was a good twist at the end which made it less disappointing. This book reminds me of the Maisie Dobbs series which I also deemed just ...more
Intriguing because of the premise - Josephine Tey (author of several classic mysteries) is involved in a real life mystery / scandal as her highly acclaimed play on a London stage draws to an end. Populated with characters based on real life (the Motley costume designers, Josephine Tey, etc.)

Ultimately does not fulfill the premise. The mystery is convoluted and you can't really say that Tey or her friends solve it as the "bad guys" are only too happy to explain all their crimes and the motives.

This is a very clever and unusual idea, using a real life writer (Josephine Tey) to help in solving a fictional crime set in the theatre world of the 1930's. It was full of believable characters with depth and richness and I was constantly changing my mind as to 'whodunnit'!

A very entertaining read which I would recommend for fans of Agatha Christie type novels.
Laura Lee
I had read the fifth book in the series and liked it so I went back to number one. Mystery involving a real mystery author from the past. Different idea. Well written. I am onto the second one coming up. Heard from a book friend the second is even better.
Pat Stearman
loved this book - 1920s London theatre, Josephine Tey, gay interest.... because I know the area in which it's set I could walk with the characters and identify most of the only slightly disguised famous actors.
V.E. Lynne
I was interested to read 'An Expert In Murder' because 'The Daughter of Time' by Josephine Tey is my favourite novel and therefore anything with her name attached to it immediately gets my attention. The book starts very well, with nice development of the Tey character and also of the policeman Archie Penrose, but then too many other secondary characters get involved and the story becomes a bit confused. Things happily get back on track by the end though and the various threads of the plot are s ...more
3 stars because although I don't mind using a historical figure as a character in a book, she then played a bit fast and loose with history-so I ended up a little disgruntled.
But I will read the next one.
Reading other people's reviews of this were interesting. I find I could agree w/ both the positive and negative ones. The author's feel for London of the 1930's was very good. I see Nicola Upson works in theatre, I'd assume from this novel that she dislikes everyone she works with. Being an actor myself, I must say that the types of theatre people she writes about DO actually exist; unfortunately. Also I'd expect someone who has worked w/ scripts and plays to be a better writer of dialogue. Very ...more
Solid. Would Ms. Tey approve? Who can say? But it's still a pretty good story. Read-alikes might include the Maisie Dobbs series.
c2008. I am not sure why but I have the feeling that I should be raving about this book. Unfortunately, it just didn't do it for me at all. I felt it was all a bit of a slog. I can't pinpoint the exact reason as the plot was convoluted enough, the characters well drawn and period of history was an unknown to me. I think perhaps I felt that the author was consciously or unconsciously mimicking the writing style of the thirties or even of Tey herself. Perhaps it was too melodramatic for me in some ...more
Sadly, boring. Predictable from the start and the end was drawn out and sappy. The heroine and hero were both bloody dull.
Judi Mckay
its a clever idea, to write murder stories featuring a murder writer. This was a reasonable story, and I particularly liked the sense of time and place the author managed to convey and how, even in 1934, the memories of the war were still strong in everyone;s minds. My only criticism of this was that there seemed to be too many characters for me to keep track of, and of course, the fact that in the book she is called Josephine when that wasn't her name in real life. A minor point but did anyone ...more
2014: I read this on my Kindle and don't think I got as much out of it as I should have. I am not sure why I wouldn't get the details as I enjoy reading on my Kindle. I think there were a lot of details at the beginning of the story that warranted more attention than I gave them.

The era is the same as the Maisie Dobbs and the novels in that series. I think it is an interesting era with the ramifications of WWI behind and the chill of WWII ahead. I liked the story and the Josephine Tey and Archi
As usual, I'm a "Johnny come lately" to another well-written mystery series. This time a dashing but slightly damaged WWI veteran turned detective joins with real-life author Josephine Tey, to solve classic "who dunnits" with a twist.

I really enjoyed the first of this series. I'd only heard of Tey, having never read her own mystery series, but I love how Upson drops her into the periphery of the story. Her involvement from the sidelines keeps the storyline and her interactions with the rest of
Connie N.
This cozy is a little different than my usual because it's set in the 1930's. That doesn't have a major impact on the story, except that the characters had been involved in the first world war, and the story was based on relationships and situations that occurred around that time. It took a little while for me to get into this book, but once I did, it was very interesting and enjoyable. Josephine Tey is a playwright (apparently based on a real-life person of the time) who travels to London, meet ...more
While browsing the new releases at my library, I came across a couple of interesting looking mystery series and went looking for the first book. I know that you don't necessarily have to read the first book in a mystery series but if possible, I do like to start at the beginning. Luckily this first book was available.

Why did this one seem so interesting to me? Because its amateur detective is writer Josephine Tey, author of Daughter of Time, which I read and which has been very highly praised. I
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quality writing 1 12 Jan 18, 2010 12:12PM  
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Nicola Upson was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works, and the recipient of an Escalator Award from Arts Council England. She lives with her partner and splits her time between Cambridge and Cornwall.

Nicola is currently writing the sixth book in the 'Jos
More about Nicola Upson...

Other Books in the Series

Josephine Tey (5 books)
  • Angel with Two Faces (Josephine Tey, #2)
  • Two for Sorrow (Josephine Tey, #3)
  • Fear in the Sunlight (Josephine Tey, #4)
  • The Death of Lucy Kyte (Josephine Tey, #5)
Angel with Two Faces (Josephine Tey, #2) Two for Sorrow (Josephine Tey, #3) Fear in the Sunlight (Josephine Tey, #4) The Death of Lucy Kyte (Josephine Tey, #5) Mythologies: The Sculpture of Helaine Blumenfeld

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