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Miss Pym Disposes

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  7,241 ratings  ·  468 reviews
To Lucy Pym, author of a best-seller on Psychology, the atmosphere at the college where she is lecturing is heavy with tension. Beneath the so normal surface run sinister undercurrents of rivalry and jealousy. Then comes tragedy. An accident? Or is it murder? Respectable, law-abiding Miss Pym discovers some vital evidence - but should she reveal it?
Paperback, 238 pages
Published August 18th 1998 by Scribner (first published 1946)
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Rachel Hall
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen Josephine Tey recommended as one of the generation of golden age crime writers that often goes underread and is not given the credit she deserves, I was keen to read some of her work after several enjoyable experiences with Agatha Christie. Miss Pym Disposes is my starting point and is not strictly a crime novel in the traditional sense, with the fateful incident that comes to define it part accident and not occurring until eighty percent of the way through the novel, although the bu ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

First published in 1946, this novel isn't a conventional murder mystery and doesn't feature Tey's detective Inspector Alan Grant. Rather, the Miss Pym of the title serves the function of detective, without actually being one - either amateur or professional - at all. Rather, she's a high school teacher turned best-selling author of a pop psychology book who visits an old friend who is now the principal of a women's physical training college. Miss Pym becomes interested in the lives and personali
By this point in my reread of Josephine Tey it's more than clear that she did not write ordinary books. The cover blurb clearly gives out that Disposes is a murder mystery, but the story is in no rush to do anyone in. And that is brilliant, and cruel. We are introduced to Miss Pym, and become friends. It didn't take long at all to come to care about her – still surprised and honestly delighted at her completely unanticipated fame and relative fortune, at her still-new ability to go wherever and ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite many people telling me that Josephine Tey is their favourite Golden Age author, I have struggled with the books I tried previously. As such, I was a little dubious about this, but I am glad that I gave it a try. Published in 1946, this is a stand-alone mystery, set in Leys Physical Training College. Indeed, Tey herself attended a similar college and taught physical education in various schools, so this is a world she knew well.

The Miss Pym of the title is Lucy Pym, who – to her own surp
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, just wow! I thought Daughter of Time was the masterpiece. Now I'm not so sure. What a loss that this incredible wit and writer of the most subtle social psychology aware mystery crossover was gone so quickly. No plot summary here. Girls and young women being full humans with barely any love interest in the mix at all. Tey was 80 years ahead of her own time. At least. Oh yes, it does plod- uphill all the way. It was very good when I was almost 30, better when I was just past 50 and great now ...more
Roman Clodia
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the surface this looks like a classic Golden Age cosy... but actually Tey disrupts the genre by subtly posing all kinds of ethical and moral dilemmas. The most obvious is about what Miss Pym should do when she discovers a murderess in the elite girls' school she's visiting - but actually there are earlier sticking points: what to do about finding someone cheating in exams? Or how to call out a miscarriage of social justice? And should jobs and careers be at the mercy of head-teacher favouriti ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
3.5 Stars
Emma Rose Ribbons
This is excellent and utterly different from anything I've read before. The psychological study is minute, the humour sharp and quotable, the characters detached yet devatastingly human. I don't know what to call this insofar as this is as much a character study of various female students in the forties as it is a mystery novel that advocates applied psychology and body language reading to solve crimes. It is a good whodunnit (though I'd guessed the final twist, it was still quite smart) but it' ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I think this book isn't for me. I haven't gotten very far, but I was already hoping the setting was going to change. I find that it is not and the characters that populate this girls college are not ones I want to spend time with.
Faith Spinks
According to the cover of the book "Josephine Tey is one of the best known and best loved of all crime writers." She is "the classic mystery writer." Yet I had never heard of her or her books before this recommendation, and by halfway through the book I was still waiting for a crime to happen and the biggest mystery to me was why I was still reading.

I think your impression of any book you read has a lot to do with your expectations ahead of ever turning that first page. I had been recommended th
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mount-tbr-2020
I thought this book was superb, but it was described as a cosy crime. I think it was more a psychological thriller, because the crime occurred about three-quarters of the way through the plot. I think the genre classification matters because if you were expecting a conventional cosy crime, this would not meet your expectations and could interfere with your enjoyment of this book.

Before the crime occurred, this was a study of the staff and pupils at a physical education college, as seen by an out
Christine PNW
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been really busy, so this slender book took me a much longer time to read than I expected. And not because it wasn't good, because it was good. Quite good.

This is my fourth Tey - I've already read Brat Farrar, The Franchise Affair & The Singing Sands. What a sadness it is that she died so young. I'm directly in the middle of her oevre - I've read four and have four left to read.

Miss Pym is not my favorite of the bunch - that honor goes to Brat Farrar. But there hasn't been a Tey that I dis
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Josephine Tey is not as well known today as others from the Golden Age of mysteries, which is a shame.

This is not one of her best works, but none of her works is less than "good." I won't repeat the plot; others have done that. I would not compare this work with "Gaudy Night." Other than the fact that it takes place in a school, there is no comparison, and even the school setting is not the same. What it does compare with, very strongly, is Agatha Christie's "Cat Among the Pigeons," which was p
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1946 book by a respected author who gave us entry to a uniquely British physical training school for girls in this book, a study of the female psyche. Lucy Pym has attained fame with the publication of a popular psychology book and is invited to lecture the girls as a guest and then leave. She intended to leave the next day, returning to London...but circumstances conspired. There were so many girls who adored could she possibly leave so soon?
It gets interesting, of course and then a
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This cozy mystery doesn't really get going till three fourths into the book. The ending will knock you out of the boat. I finished this two days ago and am still recovering.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book spoke to my childhood fantasy of living in a boarding school for girls, made popular by such old-fashioned novels as What Katy Did. Those fictional students always seemed to be having great fun. And so do the girls in this book, until a nasty incident upsets the applecart. The main character Miss Pym is a guest lecturer in psychology who observes the jolly games and tea parties with fondness, until she realizes that some of her conclusions about both staff and students have been very w ...more
Something really different! And Tey can through out some great lines, like this one; "Traveling with a pot plant was not her idea of fitting." (Yes, people were smoking up in the 30s and 40s, although that's not, of course, what Tey really means. OR IS IT?)
CAST - 3 stars: Miss Lucy Pym is a French teacher but reads a stack of books about psychology. She writes her own book about psychology, refuting much of what she read and 'The BOOK' becomes a bestselle
Abigail Bok
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Josephine Tey is often a rather bloodless master of the mystery genre--her stories are often technically sharp but lacking a certain personality, or emotion. But that is not the case here, perhaps because the setting is a personal one for her. (The story takes place at a physical training college for women, and Tey had attended such a college in her youth.)

The titular Lucy Pym has written a critique of psychological theories that has turned her into a celebrity, and in that capacity she is invit
Morgan Gallagher
Oct 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
If this had been the first book I'de ever read, by Josephine Tey, I'd never had read another one. The reader should be aware this is not representative of her usual work.

It was, in terms of language, well written, although missing some of Tey's usually faultless description. The characters were very well drawn, one of Tey's greatest strengths. However the narrative... oh, the narrative! Editors failed Tey in allowing this one to pass. For a whodunnit it takes FOREVER to get to the crime. And I m

This is not so much a murder mystery than a 'psychological' study of the inhabitants of a women's Phys. Ed. college in post war Britain by Miss Pym, a visiting author of a successful pop psychology book. Having said that, there is a crime committed but it comes very late in the book and the main concern seems to be not in the solving of the crime (although it is solved) but with the moral issues surrounding it.

Tey herself attended a PE college and taught it before becoming a writer so it is fami
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty, sharp, and very well-written. Tey is less interested in writing a mystery novel than in using the conventions of the mystery novel to examine time, place, and character. And to throw out a few questions. How much do we really know about other people? Is it possible to read character on the face and in the body? And where are we to find first causes? The attempt to assign responsibility and to understand the causation of human behaviour is fruitless; in this story, Miss Pym is able to to t ...more
Mike Finn
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, kindle
"Miss Pym Disposes" was a Leap Day Buddy Read on BookLikes. I spent a couple of days cheerfully reading this book, updating as I went and reading updates from others. I've included the updates here as well as my overall impression of the book.

Overall Impression

I really enjoyed this novel.

Although it's seventy-four years old, it felt fresh and innovative and relevant. It never took the traditional path for a mystery novel and yet it managed to be tense and intriguing. It was filled with humour an
Maria Bottelier
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not very interesting or thrilling. Maybe too old fashioned. An ongoing description of life at an all girl boarding school.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read only one another book by Josephine Tey, it was Daughter of Time. I thought it was very impressive work of research and logical reasoning about Richard III. Jospehine Tey is one of the pen names of a very private Scottish writer, Elizabeth Mackintosh.

Miss Pym Disposes, evidently, is inspired by author's own experience of attending a Physical training college, which is same as Leys where the plot of the book is set. Characters are built with love and care and plot is made to thicken s
Invited by an old school friend to give a lecture on psychology at a girl’s athletic college, Miss Pym - one of the most approachable fictional mystery-solvers that I’ve ever read – discovers a sinister undercurrent to the driven but seemingly normal surface life of the girls and staff. If Miss Pym is hardly a ‘detective’ in the usual sense, the crime itself is also almost beside the point of the novel; for much of the book, we see hardly any hint of anything amiss at Ley’s, and are content to s ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it liked it
This novel should not really be called a "mystery"--it is, I suppose, in a way, but ultimately, it is a comedy of manners with a mystery to tie it all together.

I like quiet books--books that are about concerned with somewhat boring subjects; books that aren't all action and climaxes and blood and gore. I think that when an author can take an ordinary subject, a quiet topic, an almost sleepy matter, and make it not-ordinary, not-quiet, not-sleepy: therein lies the true writer's talent. Life isn't
Graeme Roberts
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A small masterpiece of a mystery, Miss Pym Disposes is unconventional in several ways. Setting of the scene, meticulous and entrancing in both the splendid cast of characters and the locale, takes most of book, while the crime and its resolution occurs in last quarter. The eponymous Miss Lucy Pym is a thoughtful, sensitive, and kind visitor to an all-female college of physical culture in pre-war England. She comes to give a lecture based on her new psychology book, but stays on with the encoura ...more
Jamie Collins
This is a nice little story, although it isn’t much of a mystery, certainly not to the extent that the blurb on the back cover implies. The “fatal accident” doesn’t occur until well into the last half of the book, and is not hard for the reader to see through. This is sedately paced and mildly amusing, and it notably has an almost entirely female cast.

According to the brief bio of Tey, also on the cover, she “worked as a physical trainer before publishing her first novel in 1929”. That apparentl
Pamela Mclaren
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, mysteries
What a time to visit a woman's physical training college! When the seniors are twisted in knots and the emotions run high with finals and a final demonstration for parents and friends! But that is exactly the situation that Miss Lucy Pym, author of a very popular psychology book, enters when she agrees to a friends request to give a guest lecture and is talked into staying longer. Inquisitive and observant, Miss Pym starts to notice the tense undercurrent that is going on between the students, t ...more
Lady Shockley
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Miss Pym Disposes is not a conventional murder mystery, no matter what the blurbs tell you. Miss Pym, the surprise successful author of a pop psychology book goes to Ley's school at the request of her school-friend Henrietta, where she is to guest lecture the young women. Intrigued by the students, their youth and vitality, she extends her stay, helping out here and there. While proctoring a final exam, she foils a possible cheater, which leads to a rather shocking turn of events.
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BOOK ONE: * Chapters 1 & 2 1 4 Aug 31, 2019 05:38PM  
Reading the Detec...: July 2019 - Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey 23 33 Jul 25, 2019 11:24PM  
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Josephine Tey was a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh. Josephine was her mother's first name and Tey the surname of an English Grandmother. As Josephine Tey, she wrote six mystery novels featuring Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant.

The first of these, The Man in the Queue (1929) was published under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot , whose name also appears on the title page of another of her 19

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