Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Josephine Tey. To Love and Be Wise

     Josephine Tey. To Love and Be Wise (1950) A classic, with a twist that the alert reader will probably see before the denouement. I like Tey’s satirical eye: here, she skewers an artist’s colony that’s established itself in Salcott St Mary, a nice little village in Orfordshire. They supply a nice field of suspects for DCI Alan Grant of the Yard. There’s also implicit meditation on the nature of love and marriage, shown, not told, through the various relationships, one of which is the driver of the crime. Like Austen, Tey believes that a good marriage rests on mutual respect as well as passion. Grant and Marta Hallard really should get married; maybe Tey would have manoeuvred them into this blessed state if she’d lived long enough to write more mysteries.
     As a police procedural, the book just barely passes. Grant’s relationship to his Sgt Williams is friendly as well as collegial. Commissioner Bruce can be testy, but is basically a decent sort. There are enough scenes of police at work to create the illusion, but Grant is really a private sleuth in police clothing. As such, he relies on intuition (“flair” Bryce calls it), and isn’t satisfied with a neat case if one or two little details niggle at him.
     A good entertainment. ***

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