AnExpertinMurderJosephine52125_fSo, In An Expert in Murder Nicola Upson has created a new mystery series around a real person, namely Elizabeth Mackintosh, best know to those of us who love crime and mysteries as the author Josephine Tey.

The setting is London’s Theatreland, where Josephine’s successful long-running play Richard of Bordeaux is coming to an end. At the beginning of the novel we see her travelling from her home in Inverness, and on the train she meets a fan, a young woman called Elspeth. They hit it off, but soon after the train arrives at King’s Cross, Elspeth is murdered. Josephine’s friend, Archie Penrose (the model for her fictional detective) is leading the case and Josephine herself soon becomes involved in finding out what secret from the past has led to this and other deaths.

I’m always fascinated when authors use real people in their novels, and I’m always pleased when they include an author’s note to tell you what and who is real, what’s conjecture, what’s totally fictional. I’ve also always liked Josephine Tey’s work, especially The Daughter of Time (though I didn’t agree with her conclusion, but that’s not the point) and hopefully her transition to a fictional character will popularise her work a bit more.

The novel really does invoke the period of the 1930s, and it was great fun reading about events taking place in streets very close to where I work in central London (though obviously it all looks very different now). And though it reads like a classic murder mystery of the golden age, the occasional swearword and the description of relationships that wouldn’t have been written about quite so openly at the time remind you that this is very much a modern novel.

I’m now really looking forward to the sequel, which comes out quite soon I think.