The Top 5 Best Josephine Tey Novels For Old School Crime Fiction Fans

Josephine Tey, the pen name of Scottish writer Elizabeth MacKintosh, was the name under which she wrote some of her best-known works.

It’s also the name I knew her under when I first read her short stories in the amazing anthology series Bodies From The Library.

After my brief introduction, I was intrigued by the author’s characters and dedication to creating gripping narratives, so I sought out some more of her work.

Characterisation and suspense are the cornerstones of Tey’s work, and she created some memorable individuals including Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, who appears in several of her most revered works.

If you’re looking for a new Golden Age crime fiction series to start in 2022, and want something authentic but not as popular as the books written by well-known names like Sayers or Christie, then Tey’s books could be the perfect choice for you.

Here are some of my favourite books by Josephine Tey to get you into her work and introduce you to her unique and well-rounded characters.

5. The Franchise Affair: An inventive and gripping novel, this unique story showcases the author’s flair for the dramatic and skill at characterisation. While the book involves Inspector Alan Grant, The Franchise Affair mainly centres around a solicitor who is called in to defend a mother and daughter who live alone in a grandiose house, called the Franchise. The pair have been accused of kidnapping a young woman, 15 year old Betty Kane, who was staying with an aunt and uncle nearby their home. She claims to have been abducted, beaten and forced to do menial work by the mother and daughter, who had been struggling to find servants to support them in taking care of their large home. While the tale seems fanciful and unusual, the girl is bruised and can describe accurately the layout of the pair’s distinctive home. The women’s solicitor, Robert Blair, is unconvinced by the girl and determined to help his clients, for whom he feels deeply sympathetic. His investigations uncover unique human dramas and incorporate so many twists that the novel is almost impossible to put down.

4. Brat Farrar: Set in a stuffy country estate, Brat Farrar is both the title of the book and the name of a mysterious stranger who intrudes on the ignorant bliss of the troubled and cash-strapped Ashby family. Brat meets a stranger while drifting around in England after spending time in America. The stranger is an actor who knows the Ashby family, and wants to use Brat to impersonate the eldest son of the family, who is supposed to have committed suicide, but whose body was never found. His younger twin is now set to inherit a trust fund from his late mother when he turns 21, but Brat and his new friend plan to swindle the family out of the money with their deception. While this book is less of a mystery and more of a thriller and human drama, it is definitely worth reading for its unforgettable characterisation and intense dialogue. The book is a stand alone novel that doesn’t involve Inspector Grant, but it is very clearly the work of Josephine Tey. It’s also a great introduction to her work and a stunning read for anyone who loves unique thrillers.

3. A Shilling for Candles: The basis for the Alfred Hitchcock film Young And Innocent, A Shilling For Candles is part of the Inspector Alan Grant series. Among the first of the books to be written under the Josephine Tey pseudonym, the novel draws on the author’s experience working with theatrical actors and writing in Hollywood. It tells the tale of a film actress, who is found dead by drowning on a beach near Kent, where she was staying with a male friend. While her death is originally thought to be accidental drowning, Grant notices a button tangled in her hair, and feels that the death is suspicious. That’s compounded when the Inspector finds out that the actress recently wrote to her lawyer to add a section to her will. This new provision will allow her male friend, who has squandered his own fortune and now lives off the actress’s generosity, to get a portion of her considerable estate. Other suspects include an astrologist who accurately predicted the actresses death by drowning, the actress’s brother, a renowned con artist, and her husband, who is unwilling to share his whereabouts at the time of her death. With a range of suspects and little hard evidence to go off, Grant has to use all of his detective prowess and investigative skills to uncover the truth. In doing so, he has to work out both how and why the actress died, so he can figure out who orchestrated her death.

2. Miss Pym Disposes: With an engaging female lead and a traditional enclosed setting at a private girl’s school, this standalone novel should have been part of a series in my humble opinion. It’s a shame it’s not, but it’s still an enticing read. Psychologist and bestselling writer Lucy Pym is looking forward to giving a lecture at a Leys Physical Training College for girls where she can share her love of her chosen subject with a group of eager young students. Invited by her friend and the school’s principal to stay the night, the stay becomes a bit longer, and is then interrupted by a tragic death. It could be an accident, but it could also be something much worse, and the longer she stays, the more Miss Pym uncovers. The novel manages to toe the line between cosy crime fiction and biting thriller, making this a unique and engaging read for anyone who loves mysteries.

1. The Daughter of Time: The last book published in the author’s lifetime, this is an incredible book about Inspector Alan Grant’s investigations into King Richard The Third. With Grant confined to a hospital bed, an actress friend of his brings in some pictures of historical figures and suggests that he tries to uncover the truth behind a famous crime. When he sees the picture of the famous king, Grant believes that the world must be wrong in assuming him a cruel and callous killer who murdered the princes in the tower and many others. The book describes Grant’s work dissecting historical material and testing out his ideas on those surrounding him in the hospital. The book reminds me of the later work by Colin Dexter called The Wench Is Dead, and is a great example of the historical cold case revisited by a recuperating Inspector that has peppered both the crime book and TV market for the following decades.

Books I’m Excited For In 2022

Happy New Year Dorset Book Detective Readers! Hopefully things will get better this year, and we’ll all survive and thrive.

For me and my blog, it’s that time of year again! A New Year means exciting new book releases for us bookworms to drool over and get pumped for.

This year there are so many awesome new releases coming that I’m sure everyone, no matter what your tastes are, will find plenty to keep you entertained.

So, without further ado, here are some of the books I’m most looking forward to reading later in the year.

Good Rich People

This exciting new release from Eliza Jane Brazier looks like an exhilarating combination of crime fiction and social commentary. It tells the story of an unusual wealth couple who rent out the downstairs part of their luxury home to so-called ‘self-made’ success stories. Then the pair work with their wits to torment and torture their lodgers to get back at them for being interlopers into the world of wealth and privilege that they believe is rightfully theres. However, when a destitute young woman tricks her way into their home, the couple have to engage in an extraordinary game of cat and mouse that could have devastating consequences. This looks like a great read and I love a good book that questions social class and involves crime, so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

The Thursday Murder Club 3

While we don’t have many details about the new addition of Richard Osman’s addictive series, but we do know that it’s due to be released later next year, probably around the early Autumn. Following on from the success of The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, I’m looking forward to seeing what else is coming for the intrepid group of elderly sleuths who gather together to uncover the truth behind crimes in and around their luxury retirement community. Osman has gone from a popular quiz show host to a respected author, and his work stands alone away from the rest of is success. If you love Golden Age crime fiction, then this cosy series could be the perfect choice for you. If you haven’t already checked it out, then you’ve still got plenty of time before the third novel is released!

The Marlow Murder Club 2

Remarkably similar to Osman’s series, The Marlow Murder Club was created by Robert Thorogood, the writer behind the longstanding TV show Death In Paradise. The first book was a hit, so it’s no surprise that a second is due to be released later in 2022. Again, as the next book in this captivating series is set for later in the year, we don’t have much information about it right now, but if it’s anything like the first novel then it’ll be a kooky classic crime caper that’s not too violent and perfect for fans of cosy crime stories. Set in modern society, using a small village as its base and featuring a cast of older women, including a vicar’s wife, a dog walker and an elderly crossword setter as the sleuths, the first book had all the makings of the start of a great series, and I expect big things from this second instalment.

The Christie Affair

As a huge Agatha Christie fan who also loves historical mystery novels and weird conspiracy theories, I am extremely excited for Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair. Due to be published later this month, it tells the tale of Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 and presents her first husband’s ambitious mistress as somehow linked to still unsolved mystery. I love books that offer unique perspective on an often covered event, so I’m intrigued to see what theories de Gramont presents and how her new novel will give readers the chance to immerse themselves in the world of 1920s luxury and decadence. I’m confident that we’ll get a novel that’s both unique and comforting, which will be the perfect option for Christie fans and crime fiction lovers in general.

Run, Rose, Run

Something you might not know about me is that as well as loving crime fiction and thrillers, I’m also a huge Western and Country Music lover. That’s why I’m looking forward to the first crime fiction novel from Country legend Dolly Parton. In partnership with mystery writing aficionado James Patterson, she’s created a book about a young singer who’s on the run from a murky past. Now in Nashville, she’s singing about how she’s turned her life around and making a name for herself in the music business. But the past never stays buried for long, leaving her to confront her past and protect her future as a music star. I love Dolly Parton, and I think that her influence could help to make Patterson’s story less formulaic. Whatever happens, I’ll defiantly be checking out Dolly’s debut crime fiction novel! There’s also an album of original songs produced to go with the novel, making this the perfect choice for any Country lover and crime fiction fan.

Chronicles Of A Cairo Bookseller

It’s not crime fiction, but I think Nadia Wassef’s autobiographical tale of opening a bookshop in Cairo, a city with no other independent shops selling books, seems like an intriguing and important read. The book is funny and insightful, offering readers the chance to peer into the unique world of Egypt’s capital city and the perils and passions that collide in Wassef’s bookshop. The book features a unique cast of characters who are stranger than fiction, and showcase the beauty of bookstores and why independent shops like Diwan are so important and need to be protected at all costs. Wassef writes a funny and insightful book that I think will make a great read, and allow you to check out some non-fiction and learn new things.

Over the coming months there will doubtless be many more books announced, which means there’ll be even more incredible new books for us to check out. Happy reading and I hope the New Year is prosperous for all of my lovely followers!

The Dorset Book Detective’s 2021 Christmas Gift Guide

A bit later than usual, here’s this year’s guide on what to buy the book lover in your life this festive season!

Given that the virus that shall not be named is still running rampant and, for many of us, particularly those of us in the UK, our leaders aren’t doing very much about it, Christmas will probably be a very strange affair this year.

One of the challenges the virus has caused is getting gifts for people that require little to no contact and reduce their chances of spreading the virus.

That’s why this year I’ve put together a list of some cool, book-themed Christmas presents that involve limited contact or can be sent directly to your loved ones.

I’ve also tried to find creative ideas, so you can choose something that’s a little bit different and will bring a smile to someone’s face. Goodness knows we need something to smile about right now.

A Book Subscription Box

Subscription boxes might make you think of beauty products and foreign candies, but there’s now a subscription box for almost everything. You can even get cleaning products in subscription boxes now! That’s not much fun though, so consider getting a book subscription box instead. You can get ones that send you specific types of books, or ones that give you fiction by specific writers, such as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. That’s a great way to learn new things and read books by a wider variety of authors. Treat someone you love to a book subscription box this Christmas and you’ll give them a gift that keeps on giving and can be sent directly to their home.

Kindle Unlimited

If someone you know and love owns a Kindle, then you could think about paying for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. It’s a Kindle subscription that gives them unlimited access to all the eBooks available for eReaders, as well as podcasts, audiobooks and exclusive content that’s only available to subscribers. The subscription can be set-up and then they can use it on any Kindle or a smart device that uses the Kindle app. So, they can take an entire library with them everywhere they go. Make sure that the person you’re buying for likes reading digital books- for paper book lovers, this isn’t a great choice. Thankfully, there are plenty other options out there.

Candles That Smell Like Books

Candles are a great gift for anyone that likes making their home look, feel and smell cosy and comfortable. For the bookworm in your life, a candle that smells like books is the ideal choice. You can buy them online from a whole host of retailers, including online marketplaces like Etsy, so you can find a cute handmade option. They might not smell exactly like books, but many of them have a fresh, woody scent that evokes the memory of shopping in bookstores and unwrapping newly purchased books. Consider getting them a candle that smells like books in a glass jar, as these are often safer than

A Beautiful Book Journal

Recording your reading habits has become a popular hobby for many of us over recent years. While there are loads of apps out there to do it for you, but it can be fun to use a physical tool. If you’re looking for something a bit different, then you could consider a journal or wall hanging that actually offers suggestions for books to read in the future. However, if you want a classic gift, then you can find a stunning book journal. There are leather-bound options, ones with pretty patterns on them and more, so you can find one to suit the style of every book lover you know. Book journals are a stunning way to keep a record of every book they read, and by buying them a pretty one you can encourage them to make the most of it and feel proud to have it on their bookshelf.

A Hand Drawn Tattoo Design Based On A Beloved Book Series

If you know and love a bookworm who’s also passionate about body modification, then a drawing that can be used as the basis for a tattoo design, based on design from a book or fantasy series they love could be a perfect gift. It’s a personalised option that’s unique and from the heart. It’s also a great way to have some fun and unleash your creativity. Look at books in the series, and see if you can incorporate key motifs from the cover designs into your design. Your book loving friend or family member can then decide if they want to permanently ink your design on their skin, or simply frame it and display it in their home.

I’ll be taking a brief break over Christmas to relax and recuperate from the festive rush, but the Dorset Book Detective will be back and thriving in 2022. So have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’m excited to share more updates in 2022 and hopefully things will get better next year.

Bodies From The Library 4 Review: Another Engrossing Collection Of Undiscovered Golden Age Crime Stories

Before I get down to the fun part and start reviewing this amazing anthology series, I’d like to apologise for neglecting my blog. I’ve been very busy and I’ve been working very hard at my day job, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

I’m hoping to get things back on track soon, so for now, thanks ever so much for bearing with me. I really appreciate all of the ongoing support and I’m excited to start getting back to posting on the blog more often in the future.

With that done, I’d like to love to tell you about the fourth instalment of the Bodies From The Library series. The series is linked to a lecture series of the same name, which aims to educate crime fiction fans on the Golden Age and how it came to influence almost every aspect of the genre and popular culture in general.

Edited, introduced and compiled by crime fiction connoisseur Tony Medawar, the series gives the reader the chance to read previously undiscovered short stories and novellas from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. These stories might be from old archives, have been previously unpublished, or have not been included in old magazines but not collected in a printed book before.

Beginning with the introduction from Medawar, Bodies From The Library 4 then goes on to offer each story followed by a short biography of the author and an overview of where and when the text was originally published and how it came to be selected for the anthology. That means you can learn a bit about prominent and influential authors from the Golden Age without having to read

The one thing I found disappointing about the fourth instalment of the series of Bodies From The Library books is that it doesn’t contain an Agatha Christie story this time. As she was one of the key writers from the era, it’s a shame they didn’t include her work in this latest edition, especially as she was included in the past. Dorthy L. Sayers is another notable name who is missing from volume four, but it does mean that we get to read tales from new names that weren’t in previous books in the series, so that’s a bonus.

However, with many other major writers from the period, including Leo Bruce, Ngaio Marsh and Edmund Crispin, there are still plenty of big names that you’ll have heard of. So, you’ll get the chance to discover some awesome tales by authors you love, as well as some you might not have necessarily heard of, but who’ve influenced popular culture. For example, the short story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes is included in the anthology.

At the end of the book, there is a section of stories from the Sunday Dispatch, which were commissioned as part of a writing challenge for crime fiction authors during 1938. A previous set of stories from an earlier Sunday Dispatch competition was included in the previous edition of the anthology series, and this next one was a set of pieces centred around specific and unusual pictures. The 6 writers were challenged to write a brief story about these unique images, which include an anvil with a glass of wine perched on top of it, a pub sign, and a drawing of a creepy skeleton hand with what appears to be a pocket watch perched on top of it.

Each tale incorporates the content of the image, in some cases in very inventive and uniquely creative ways. These short stories, most of which are less than 3 pages in length, are incredible feats of writing and unforgettable examples of crime fiction prowess. They’re so good, and I’ve not seen them collected like this before, so I’d recommend reading the book for this section alone.

That being said, there are loads of other great examples of crime fiction writing from the 1920s and 30s in the book, so it’s an ideal choice for lovers of the genre. One of the best is the novella Shadowed Sunlight by Chrisitianna Brand, a story about a poisoning during a yacht race on board one of the vessels. The assembled family and friends are all suspects, but as each food and drink item the victim ingested was also eaten or drunk by another member of the company, who wasn’t harmed, it’s difficult for the detectives to uncover the truth.

Another incredible tale from the anthology is The Only Husband by H.C. Bailey, a play script about the shooting of an elderly nobleman in the grounds of his country estate just as an investigator he asked to help him deal with an unspecified family issue arrives. Alongside local lawmakers, the detective has to deal with lies, secrets and family disloyalty to uncover the truth about who shot the murder victim or if his death was merely an unfortunate and tragic, if timely, accident. The script’s dialogue is witty and punchy, and the characters are believably droll and unscrupulous, so it’s a great read for crime fiction lovers who want to discover something new from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction.

In summary, Bodies From The Library 4 is another great addition to this gripping anthology series. While it might not contain as many big name authors as past editions, the fourth part of the series is engaging and contains some great tales that you’ll enjoy. As a result, I’d throughly recommend checking it out.

Wilbur Smith Obituary

Global best-selling author and renowned thrill seeker Wilbur Smith has died at his home in South Africa at the age of 88 on the 13th November 2021.

Born in Zambia, the writer was an adventurer and seasoned international traveller who drew on his own experiences to create gripping tales of global misadventure and daring. His characters were strong and well-rounded, his settings always realistic and his plots gripping and tantalising.

Having grown up with a love of adventure and the great outdoors, Smith went on to become an internationally acclaimed author whose books are now translated into dozens of languages and were even made into blockbuster movies staring some of the world’s most renowned actors, including Roger Moore.

Over the years, as well as writing many bestselling novels, Smith went on to run a ranch, own an island in the Seychellesand more. He was an experienced outdoorsman who enjoyed big game hunting, scuba diving, travelling around the world and much more.

He was also a prolific reader and an experienced marksman who was passionate about gun and rifles. He drew on this knowledge when writing his many books and created realistic scenes in which his characters were backing into corners and had to use their wits and weapons to fight their way out. The writer also had a pilot’s licence and flew all over Africa and owned a number of boats, which he used to see more of the world and go on many adventures that would eventually help to inform his published work.

Despite considering a career in journalism, Smith ending up training as an accountant. In this boring job, he found plenty of time to write and started crafting unforgettable tales, which he later started publishing.

His first novel Where The Lion Feeds was so immensely successful when it came out in 1966 that he quickly followed it up with The Dark Of The Sun the next year.

Throughout the decades Smith’s work became even more popular with a wide range of readers, and he eventually started writing several series of books about revered families, including the Courtney family and the Ballantynes.

He also wrote a series of historical novels set in Ancient Egypt, that were set mostly in the time of the Pharaoh Memnon and addressed his reign through his eyes and those of one of his family’s slaves, Taita.

Many of his other books also covered historical periods of civil and military unrest, particularly in his home continent of Africa. While some critics have accused the writer of not researching thoroughly, many have deemed his portrayals to be as accurate as possible for historical works. They’re also deeply interesting and give a unique perspective on many periods of time and regions that weren’t extensively covered in popular fiction of the early 1960s and beyond.

In recent times, Smith worked on new novels and co-wrote them with many other popular writers, which created a unique view on his characters and the adventures in which they participated. He also wrote children’s stories in collaboration with Chris Wakling and autobiographical works that explored his upbringing in Africa and his adventures in some of the most beautiful and amazing parts of the world.

Outside of his work as a popular fiction writer, Smith had a large family, with whom he often had a tempestuous relationship, but undoubtably they and his many fans will miss his unique perspective on the world and his undeniably fascinating way of bringing even simple stories to life in amazing detail.

With a little under 50 books in his back catalogue, Smith has left behind an extensive legacy of incredible thrillers and action-packed adventure stories that will remain popular for many centuries. His work will, and undoubtably has already, influenced the way writers view mystery, thriller and adventure novels.

The Top Five Inspector Montalbano Books For Fans Of European Crime Fiction

The Inspector Montalbano TV series has become popular in the UK and around the world, but it differs greatly from the unique and pioneering series of books on which it is based.

Originally published in Italian, and now translated into many languages and popular around the world, Andrea Camilleri’s series about a police inspector with a unique combination of underworld connections and moral compass, is intriguing and unrivalled.

The series is still going to this very day, with the books spanning nearly 20 years, from the early 90s to the 2020s. As well as the nearly 30 full-length Inspector Montalbano novels, the author also wrote a selection of short stories, compiled into many collections.

Set in a fictional town on the Italian coast, called Vigata, the stories are famed for being violent and featuring some of the worst of human behaviour. From prostitutes to gangsters, thieves to kidnappers and beyond, almost every character in this series is up to no good in some form or another.

Montalbano’s world is one of vice and deception, but the man himself has an unwavering, if unusual, moral compass. He lives by his own code and has a set of rules that keep him grounded as he navigates the murky world underground world of crime in his beloved city.

Known for their dark humour and raw depiction of human life, the Inspector Montalbano novels paint a unique picture of life in Italy and the serious crimes committed in this beautiful and diverse country.

So, if you’re looking to explore the sleazy and devious world of Inspector Montalbano, then here are five books you should definitely check out.

5.The Sicilian Method: One of the newer books in the series, The Sicilian Method features two dead bodies that are considered to be connected. One is a body found by an absconding lover fleeing from his girlfriend’s husband when he spies a corpse in the flat below. The other is a vicious and cruel theatre director, who’s harsh methods of training actors could hold the key to his death. The Inspector finds numerous notebooks in the dead director’s home, including lists of everyone he’s ever worked with, his past plays and some strange notes featuring numbers, dates and names. Working back through a long list of wronged actors and trying to figure out what the notes mean leads the Inspector back to the theatre where the director worked, and where he is sure the truth behind his death lies.

4.The Other End Of The Line: Vigata is welcoming migrants to its shores in search of a better life, with Inspector Montalbano and his men working hard to support them and find the people traffickers responsible for the harsh conditions in which many of them had to travel. Then another crime occurs: this time, it’s the death of the town’s most revered dressmaker, who is brutally murdered with her own scissors. The Inspector and his mean are now dealing with organised crime on one hand and a seemingly unconnected and domestic murder on the other. As the title suggests, the Inspector comes to view each clue as part of a thread, but he soon comes to believe that they could be connected and that the person at the other end of the line is more powerful and dastardly than he ever expected.

3. The Treasure Hunt: After being reluctantly shoved into the spotlight by a pair of crazed lunatics wielding guns, Inspector Montalbano is targeted by an anonymous criminal who sends him on a treasure hunt with disastrous consequences. His obsession with uncovering who’s behind the scheme takes on toll on the Inspector’s personal and professional lives, and he finds himself faced with horrendous crimes that show that this more than a harmless game to the person who orchestrated it. From the personal nature of the hunt, it’s clear that the Inspector is in danger, but it soon becomes apparent just how much, and it quickly becomes clear that there’s more than his reputation as a detective at stake if he can’t uncover the mystery and find the culprit in time. This book features a twisted mystery and showcases the author’s mastery of the detective fiction format.

2. The Snack Thief: I’m not going to lie: I initially picked this novel up because of the title. I love a good snack, and I thought this would be a great read for me. I wasn’t wrong, although the novel is less about snacks than I would have liked. It features the death of a Tunisian sailor, the stabbing of a former merchant and the disappearance of a cleaning lady, who also happens to be from Tunisia. With so many crimes to deal with a suspects to handle, Montalbano and his men already have enough on their hands when they’re approached by a group of disgruntled mothers who are blaming the theft of snacks from their primary school aged kids on the new foreign boy, who happens to be Tunisian and linked to the disappeared cleaning lady. During all of this, the Inspector has to deal with a personal crisis which shows his emotional vulnerability. The novel is deeply human and speaks to a variety of emotions.

1. The Shape of Water: Yet again, I’ll recommend you start with the first book in the series. Not to be confused with the Guillermo del Toro film with the same name about a cleaner who becomes obsessed with a weird alien fish thing, this is a gripping thriller that sets the stage for this popular series. In the first book featuring the intrepid Italian sleuth, Andrea Camilleri’s police detective deals with the death of a semi-prominent member of the fictional town of Vigata. He dies during sex with his nephew and lover, who reaches out to a local attorney who was friends with his uncle. This man turns the tables and tries to use his knowledge of the death to his own political advantage. Using his connections in the murky underworld of the local sex trade, Inspector Montalbano uncovers the truth and plays God in this incredible, Golden-Age esq crime novel.

The Wintringham Mystery Review: A Classic Cosy Crime Novel That’s The Perfect Winter Comfort Read

If you’re looking to snuggle up with a good book now that the nights are getting longer and the weather colder, then the new Harper Collins edition of Anthony Berkley’s classic crime story The Wintringham Mystery could be the perfect winter read for you.

This printed edition of the complete story, which was initially serialised in the popular newspaper the Daily Mirror, is part of the the Collins Crime Club, a selection of classic crime stories. Many of these books are by members of the Detection Club, a group of 1930s Golden Age detective fiction writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard and many more.

In this edition, crime fiction expert Tony Medawar, the editor of the incredible Bodies From The Library, explains the popularity of the puzzle and how prizes were offered to anyone who guessed the explanation. Even Agatha Christie entered the competition, but she couldn’t even solve the mystery.

In the end, no one even came close to solving the puzzle, but the Daily Mirror awarded a share of the prize money to a selection of participants, including Christie, who gave the best guesses. The introduction allows readers to learn more about the story and the author.

Then, we dive right into the novel, which is so seamless that it doesn’t read like a serialised story at all. The Wintringham Mystery introduces readers to the feckless Stephen Munro, esquire, and his former army batman turned manservant Bridger. Stephen is lovesick over his former girlfriend, Pauline Mainwaring, and he’s also seriously running out of funds. In desperation, he pays Bridger his final month’s wages and sets out for his new job, as a footman at an illustrious country house he once might have been a guest at.

The ever-efficient Bridger, who’s very much the Bunter to Stephen’s Lord Peter Wimsey, has already predicted this unusual career path that his boss and friend is taking, and has gotten himself a job as a gardener at the same house to be close to him. Among the guests at Wintringham Hall, the sprawling estate of the curmudgeonly Lady Susan Carey, is Stephen’s former lady love Pauline and her new fiancé, a once prominent businessman who, as Stephen learns from his chauffeur, is in financial difficulties. Many of the other guests are former friends of Stephen’s, who struggle to adapt to his new status as a servant.

They invite him to join in on a seance, which they believe will allow them to converse with the spirit world. Their host sits in disdainful silence and many of the guests ignore them or try to get Freddie, Stephen’s former friend and nephew to their host, to stop his ridiculousness. However, Lady Susan’s live-in niece Millicent and her companion Cecily Rivers, agree to take part. Cecily was supposed to be elsewhere, but she mysteriously reappears to be part of the seance.

Despite learning lots of great gossip about the guests at the hall, Stephen very quickly gets on the wrong side of the butler, Martin, and is promptly sacked after the seance and invited by Lady Susan to stay on as her guest. Stephen works to uncover the truth behind the vanishing of Cecily and promptly discovers that many of the eclectic group of house guests had motives to plot to hide the girl or to do her harm. Convinced Cecily is in on the deception, Stephen teams up with Pauline and starts staking out the room in the hall where she was last seen, sneaking into secret passages and more.

After Cecily disappears, Lady Susan’s jewellery is stolen and a mysterious phone call is made claiming to be the missing girl, who’s apparently in limbo and needs another seance. Then, a member of the staff is killed under mysterious circumstances, leaving it up to Stephen and Pauline, with a little help from Bridger, to figure out what’s going on and restore order to the house party at the hall. Berkeley employs every trick in the book, from red herrings to false trails, to make the mystery tough to unravel.

At the same time, it’s still possible to follow the plot of The Wintringham Mystery. One of the biggest issues I and many other readers often face when reading crime fictions books that are designed to be puzzled out by the reader is that the story is, by necessity, too convoluted and complicated to be understood. The reader simply can’t solve the mystery because it doesn’t make any sense. However, in this book the story is clear and easy to follow, but still devilishly deceitful and tricky to unravel.

When the truth unfolds readers are left stunned and fascinated. The story features bold characters and many twists and turns to keep you on your toes, meaning you’ll struggle to put the book down- I know I did! It was amazing how often I’d tell myself I’d only read one more chapter, then find myself making the same promise 6 chapters down the line. The mystery draws you in then the compelling characters and witty dialogue, particularly between Stephen and Pauline, keeps you gripped.

Ultimately, I really love The Wintringham Mystery, and I think that this new version is a great gift for a classic Golden Age crime fiction lover. The cover art is stunning and the introduction is interesting and brings a new dimension to this intriguing story. So, if you know and love a crime fiction fan and you’re looking for a unique and inventive gift for them Christmas or a winter birthday, then this is a great book to consider. Or, if you want to get yourself a special little treat, then this is an amazing read that will help you to expand your knowledge of Golden Age crime novels, then I’d thoroughly recommend this cosy new edition of this intriguing mystery.

Why I Love Listening To Audiobooks While I Work

During the pandemic, many of us who used to work in offices were forced to work from home, which bought many challenges and changes.

One of the main changes that has occurred has been our ability to listen to our own music or podcasts while we work. It’s actually one of the few benefits of working from home. While I definitely feel isolated and find it hard to find a good work/ life balance, I do like the fact that I can listen to what I like.

After all, when you’re in an office, you have to listen to something that everyone likes, which means that many of us often end up with the radio or a playlist of generic pop music. No one wants to say anything or put their headphones in, and given the focus on collaborative work and the need to answer the phone, that’s often impossible.

At home, if you get to work alone then you can listen to your own sounds. Even if you share a workspace with a housemate or partner, then you can at least wear headphones. Or you could just turn the sound down- I live in a shared house and literally no one complains about the sound of my audiobooks coming out of the tiny speakers on my phone.

While I don’t think for a second that listening to audiobooks is the same as reading a physical novel, it is a useful way to enjoy literature while I’m doing other tasks. I’d also recommend checking out podcasts themed around literature, like Potterless, a brilliant show about an adult man who’s never read the Harry Potter book series. While I still don’t support J.K Rowling and her blatant transphobia, I do love listening to the hilarious ramblings of an American who’s experiencing the books for the first time.

There are also storytelling podcasts such as This American Life, which combines journalism with storytelling to provide a unique take on current events and real life in America. It’s another great way to learn more about the world and see it from a new perspective.

I used to think listening to audiobooks and other audio shows would be distracting, especially in my job as a writer. I always used to believe that, eventually, I’d start typing the words I was hearing. However, I’ve learned since I started listening to audiobooks online at work, that they actually help me to concentrate and manage my workload. Often, I bribe myself by telling myself I need to get something finished before the end of the next chapter or I’ll switch the story off! It’s a useful technique, particularly if you happen to have the mind of a hyperactive toddler.

All this doesn’t mean I no longer read books. I always thought it would, but, in fact, I’ve found that audiobooks and physical books help me to separate my work life from my home one. During work, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, which I find more soothing than music. After work, while I’m out and about or just before bed, I read my physical novels.

As I say, audiobooks and literary-themed podcasts are soothing to me while I’m working, but only certain ones. I think a John Grisham or an Andy McNab audiobook might be a bit too intense for a working day, whereas an Agatha Christie or a Ngaio Marsh story is relaxing. It sometimes helps if I’ve already read the book and know the plot, particularly if I’m having a busy or stressful day, or I’m feeling particularly anxious.

In all, while I still love reading physical books, I’m enjoying listening to stories and podcasts and I think others might too. It probably sounds really obvious, and not worthy of a blog post, but I think it’s relevant, particularly for anyone who’s still working from home and feeling isolated. I know from experiencing working with my team that many remote workers are struggling right now, and even with connected technology, it’s easy to feel alone. That’s especially true if you live alone or the people you live with are out of the house all day. With audiobooks and podcasts, you can hear a person’s voice and become immersed in a story while keeping busy at the same time.

The Man Who Died Twice Review: Another Hilarious Instalment Of The Bestselling Series

In his long-awaited follow-up to his bestselling debut novel The Thursday Murder Club, quiz show host turned author Richard Osman brings back his unique flair for cosy crime fiction.

The plot of this latest novel sees readers return to Coopers Chase, the luxury retirement community where the four members of the Thursday Murder Club reside. The man mentioned in the title is the ex-husband of Elizabeth, one of the club’s founders who used to be in the secret service.

He uses the name of a man who’s already dead to tempt his ex-wife to come and speak to him. It turns out he ran a search on a renowned gangster’s home that went wrong. A cache of valuable diamonds went missing, and the gangster knows who led the raid. He’s now out for revenge and Elizabeth’s ex-husband wants protection.

Reluctantly, Elizabeth agrees, but before she and the other club members can start protecting her ex-husband a member of the criminal’s gang breaks into Coopers Chase and is killed by the young secret service agent charged with the official job of protecting him.

After this deadly incident Elizabeth’s ex is moved out of the residential home for the elderly, but his new safe house in Hove turns out to be less secure than expected. He and his young protection officer are murdered, leaving Elizabeth and her friends to uncover the truth. While the ‘who’ of the mystery doesn’t seem too difficult to understand, things are more complicated than they seem and the diamonds further complicate matters.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim, one of the club, is brutally attacked while walking back from a shopping trip outside of Coopers Chase. The group rallies around him but he’s left living in fear and stressed out about going outside of the senior residential community. Elizabeth and her other friends work with the police officers they befriended in the first book to find and punish the criminals responsible.

Osman deals with these sensitive subject with his usual panache and dry wit. His characters are remarkably funny and droll, with Joyce, the former nurse who is a first person narrator throughout the book, being the funniest of them all. Her ramblings are hilarious and make the book well worth a read for her witticism alone.

As well as being funny, the book is also suspenseful. Osman draws on many of the traditional tropes of the cosy crime fiction sub-genre and transforms his group of seemingly ordinary old age pensioners into a bunch of crime fighters. It has to be said, at times his characters are a little far fetched- his police characters are far more blasé with the law than actual coppers. The same goes for his secret service characters; I’ve met some policeman, no secret agents, but they don’t strike me as particularly realistic.

Still despite this minor issue, I really enjoyed the latest outing from the Thursday Murder Club team. They’re as witty and chaotic as ever. While the professional characters are un-relatable, the club members are brilliantly lifelike. I used to work in a care home and I can see similarities between the members, particularly Ron and Joyce, and some of the residents I used to work with.

In all, I enjoyed The Man Who Died Twice. Osman has found his niche in the cosy crime fiction space and created a memorable series that I think readers will enjoy for many years to come. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series doesn’t keep going and going; even though the characters are older, I definitely think there’s a few more books left in this phenomenal series.