fredag den 17. juli 2009

Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles (1936)


This Cozy Mystery is the Scottish author Josephine Tey´s second Alan Grant novel - and the oldest Tey novel I could find in our cottage in Scotland.

The coastguard William Potticary walks along the beach and finds the body of a young and pretty woman. The police discover that she is the world famous film star Christine Clay. Her friends and admirers regard her death as an accident, at least until Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard appears at the inquest.

An important witness is young Robert Stannaway who has just squandered away £ 30,000 and is completely broke. He has been staying with Christine Clay for the last days of her life. The deceased leaves two wills, one in which she bequeaths ´a shilling for candles´ for her unknown brother Herbert, plus a brandnew one, leaving a nice sum to her new acquaintance Robert Stannaway, hereby giving him a solid motive as well as the opportunity to kill her. But we are only on page seventy, and of course the experienced crime fiction reader knows it cannot be as simple as that with more than hundred pages to go.

Modern readers cannot help noticing that the story takes place before World War II: “Just a rather ordinary American Jew from some poor corner of Europe; ill-educated, emotional, and ruthless, like so many of his race.”

The main detective, Inspector Grant, is a competent policeman, but a very anonymous British gentleman. Erica Burgoyne, a very resourceful young lady and the daughter of the Chief Constable, does not believe Stannaway is guilty so she embarks on her own search for his coat which is an important piece of evidence. As Grant is a bit conventional, young Miss Burgoyne is an excellent choice as the unofficial sidekick. All in all a fine and entertaining cozy mystery.

See Kerrie´s review.


Josephine Tey, Et vokslys til min båre (1967).
Denne krimi er skotske Josephine Tey´s anden roman om inspector Grant.

Kystvagten William Potticary går tur langs stranden, hvor han finder liget af en ung, køn kvinde. Politiet opdager, at det er den verdenskendte filmstjerne Christine Clay. Hendes venner og fans regner hendes død for at være en ulykke, indtil inspektør Grant fra Scotland Yard deltager i ligsynet.

Et vigtigt vidne er unge Robert Stannaway, som lige har ødslet 30.000 pund væk, og er fattig som en kirkerotte. Han har opholdt sig hos Christine Clay de sidste dage af hendes liv. Afdøde efterlader sig to testamenter: ét hvor hun efterlader ´en shilling til vokslys´ til sin ukendte bror Herbert, samt et helt nyt, hvor hun testamenterer en pæn sum til sin nye bekendt, Stannaway. Hermed har han ikke blot mulighed, men også et solidt motiv for mordet. Men da vi kun er kommet til side halvfjerds, kan den erfarne krimilæser naturligvis regne ud, at så simpelt kan det ikke være.

En moderne læser kan ikke undgå at lægge mærke til, at historien foregår før anden verdenskrig: ”Bare en temmelig almindelig amerikansk jøde fra en fattig afkrog af Europa: dårligt uddannet, følelsesladet og hensynsløs, som så mange af sin race.”

Detektiven, inspektør Alan Grant, er en kompetent politimand, men ellers en temmelig anonym person. Erica Burgoyne, datter af politimesteren og en handlekraftig ung dame, er overbevist om, at Stannaway er uskyldig, så hun kaster sig ud i sin egen søgen efter hans overfrakke, som udgør vigtigt bevismateriale. Eftersom Grant er så konventionel, fungerer det godt med unge Erica som hans uofficielle ´lille hjælper´. Alt i alt er bogen en god og helstøbt klassisk hyggekrimi.

8 kommentarer:

R. T. sagde ...

Do not overlook Tey's THE DAUGHTER OF TIME. It is a classic retelling of the mystery surrounding Richard III's murderous behavior.

marco sagde ...

My personal favourite would be TO LOVE AND BE WISE.

Bernadette in Australia sagde ...

I am just happy I finally got the answer to a bait in the box :)

Dorte H sagde ...

R.T and Marco, I will remember your titles.

Congratulations, Bernadette! - and I think you were the only one who knew the title as well :D

Snowbell sagde ...

I loved the 'Franchise affair' and with R.T the Daughter of Time was quite brilliant!

Dorte H sagde ...

Hi Snowbell.
Nice to meet you. I must make a list of Josephine Tey favorites, I can see. Perhaps I should check if any of ypur suggestions can be found online.

Bibliophile sagde ...

I second To love And Be Wise. The Daughter of Time is interesting for trying to solve a real mystery using available evidence and pure reasoning. It made no. 1 on a list compiled by the CWA of the best crime novels of all time and no. 4 on the MWA's list of the best mysteries of all time.

Kerrie sagde ...

My review of A SHILLING FOR CANDLES