Get Your Free Audiobook

An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1

Narrated by: Sandra Duncan
Series: Josephine Tey, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

Non-member price: $30.59

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

It's March 1934, and Josephine Tey is travelling from Scotland to London to celebrate what should be the triumphant final week of her celebrated play, Richard of Bordeaux.

However, a seemingly senseless murder puts her reputation, and even her life, under threat...

Click here to see all the titles in our Whole Story Audio Books collection.
©2008 Nicola Upson (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    7
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Some parts are very unbelievable

I suppose for a first book in a series, this book wasn’t all bad but...

Josephine Tey is a writer who, whilst on a train journey from her home in Inverness to London, meets a young girl who claims to be one of her biggest fans. Later, the young girl is murdered. Josephine’s friend, Archie, is the detective assigned to the case and he soon becomes worried that perhaps Josephine was the intended victim. This idea is not such a leap when someone involved with the theatre production of Josephine’s play is also murdered.

Upson changes point of view from Josephine and Archie to a lot of the minor characters. This was obviously to increase the suspect pool but, at times, I found it was too much. Upson would have done better to have just Josephine or Archie discover some of the mystery plot points by actually detecting rather than revealing them to the reader via supporting characters.

Josephine and Archie for the most don’t really have any apparent skills when it comes to sleuthing. There’s million clues left at the scenes of the crimes but neither makes any links between them and the murderer. As is often the case in cosies, they basically just stumble across the answers to the mystery and the identity of whodunnit.

However, what is a little rarer in cosies was the graphic and gruesome portrayal of the murders and the murder scenes (the placement of the dolls in particular made me wonder if this was a horror story for a moment). This seemed odd for the genre (which this book is obviously being marketed towards). If I’d been involved in the editing, I’d have advised that this, along with the amount of swearing, should have been reined in for a cosy's target audience.

Actually, overall, the writing often felt too modern for the time setting of the book (a few years after WW1). I thought there was a few out of place references, especially when it came to the romantic relationships of the characters. Upson/the characters continually referred to Josephine’s late boyfriend as her ‘lover’. I feel like such an open acceptance and admission that he and Josephine were in an intimate relationship was incorrect for the time. (I must point out I never got a sense that the term ‘lover’ was meant to indicate anything less sexual between the characters.)

Two characters in a lesbian relationship also constantly use the term lover for each other and again, it felt a clunky term for the time setting of the book. (Actually it feels a clunky term for 2019. Maybe it’s something said more in the US and just seemed jarring to me? I don’t know.)

I wavered on the way the women’s gay relationship was portrayed. Okay, the characters were part of the acting community and as such would have been accepted by their peers more than in general society but for not one single character to mention their bravado of having an openly gay relationship in that era seems a little fanciful. It would have made more sense for the characters to be occasionally referred to as 'companions' than 'lovers'.

Meanwhile, some other society issues of the time (especially women’s rights, or lack of, I should say) became a little preachy.

Another huge issue I had with the book was the amount of chapters I had to wade through after the crime was solved. I have discovered I am more of a fan of finding out whodunnit and closing the book. Upson went into great detail of the murderer’s motivations and reasons for committing the crime, along with the affects this had on the other characters. It went on for several chapters and I think this should have been culled down considerably.

The parts in the final chapters focusing on Josephine and Archie’s almost romance even became boring. A shame, because I had enjoyed their scenes together up to that point.

I took the book on face value and had no idea that Tey and some other aspects portrayed (her late ‘lover’ and the play, for starters) were real until I read it in the author notes at the end. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Not very favourably though. In fact, I probably took off a star for this fact alone. (I might have felt better about this if I’d known about it beforehand.)

I have now read up on Tey who is an interesting character but as a book character, I’m not sure. It’s also perfectly obvious that one of the supporting characters was John Geilguld and, again, this makes me a little uncomfortable. It almost feels like I just read unapproved real life fanfic.

However, the book has made me want to read more of real life Tey’s books. I’m a little perplexed by why she isn’t as well known today as some of her contemporaries, despite how apparently successful she was when she was alive.

As for this book's Josephine Tey? I will probably give the next book in the series a go. Maybe some of the problems I have this time around will be less noticeable as Upson settles more confidently into the series.

3 out of 5

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Karen
  • Karen
  • 17-01-2009

Superb!

I love murder mysteries set in the theatre of the 1930s/40s - so am a fan of Ngaio Marsh, for example. Reading books written in that period - like watching films made then - requires something of a mindshift, from present-day sensibilities to the attitudes and beliefs which prevailed at that time. However, An Expert in Murder, set in the theatreworld of the 1930s, but written very recently, combines that cosy period feel with contemporary sensibilities, which makes it much more than a nostalgic read.

Narration is simply first class, characterisation is superb and the evocation of pre-War theatrical life is wonderful. The story twists and turns and, although I actually spotted the culprit fairly early on, there were enough red herrings to keep me not entirely certain of my conclusion until - most satisfyingly - I was proved right, and celebrated the resulting smugness with a cup of tea and several biscuits.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story continues beyond the reveal of the villain. At first this was disconcerting - the party was over, so why couldn't we all go home? But then it suddenly seemed to work, and it was good to know what happened once the mystery was over.

Can't recommend it highly enough.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for nicole
  • nicole
  • 26-09-2015

Absorbing and sublime

Satisfying on so many levels. From the start Upson's characters are there, fully formed. It felt like returning to a series and a world that I already knew, the middle of a conversation I was already part of; immediately absorbing. The main characters are engaging, human; flawed and likeable - testament to the skill of both the author and the narrator. I loved the whole thing. It was one of those stories that I listened to at every opportunity in my day - not just the usual journey to and from work times. Then to discover that it is a fictionalised element of the lives of a real author, some real people, a real play, an actual theatre makes it all the more intriguing. I'm now off to order the real Josephine Tey's mystery books and John Guilgood's autobiography to read. And of course, about to start listening to the next audible installment of the series. Why have you missed out number 2 Audible? It's very frustrating!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gina
  • Gina
  • 14-12-2013

A brilliantly creative murder mystery

If you could sum up An Expert In Muder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1 in three words, what would they be?

Enthralling - Shocking - Inventive.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It's difficult to choose between Archie and Josephine - their relationship creates the same tensions and delights that are found between Dorothy L Sayers' Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

What does Sandra Duncan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Sandra Duncan creates an individual and instantly recognisable voice for each character, coupled with expressive and precise narration. I listened over an extended period of time, wanting to suspend reality for as long as possible! Each time I listened, I joined the characters eagerly not only to find out what happened next, but to enjoy their company.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Without wanting to give anything away, the murder near the beginning was unexpected and made me gasp with disbelief. Nicola Upson creates convincing, rounded characters and by the time the action begins the reader has engaged with everyone who has been introduced, and it feels as though the victim is known personally to the reader.

Any additional comments?

I have resisted buying subsequent novels by Nicola Upson in print as Sandra Duncan's reading is so compelling in recreating the world of the fictitious Josephine Tey for the audience.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gill H
  • Gill H
  • 03-11-2015

Quite a gentle period piece.

Lots of threads to the story pulled together to bring an interesting end to the story. I liked the characters and the setting.
A nice easy listening experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-01-2018

An expert in murder

Wow. A really good murder mystery, an excellent pace, some humour and lots of suspects and red herrings. Set between the wars, lovely period quality to the writing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sandra Anthony
  • Sandra Anthony
  • 27-12-2017

I think Josephine Tey would have been impressed

A very well-crafted murder mystery with enough sympathetic characters to draw me in. The plot develops well, with enough clues to point you to the culprit while sprinkling the path with a few red herrings to keep you guessing. Well up to the standards of Josephine Tey herself.
The narration was excellent, but - and this is a minor criticism - I felt that her tone was occasionally a little emotionally remote.
All in all a very enjoyable and satisfying listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Flint
  • Flint
  • 07-09-2017

Very well read.

This was a very enjoyable book and I was pleasantly surprised by the ability and versatility of the narrator; she brought the diverse cast of characters to life and her narration greatly enhanced the book.

The plot was interesting with lots of twists and turns and the main characters were well drawn and interesting. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for KI Girl
  • KI Girl
  • 22-11-2018

Hard to believe this story was set in the 1930's

Whilst I did manage to make it to the end, I was dissapointed and won't be listening to any more in this series.

Perhaps I am more use to the contemporary writers of the story period as I did not fully warm to the vocabulary of either the spoken word or narrative and at times struggled with a couple of the plot elements and chosen terminology.

I had to 'rewind' the story to re-listen to a couple of more modern sayings which caught me by surprise and I am pretty sure were not in use in this time period( eg 'unmarked police car' ).

The story and performance were ok but throughout I had to keep reminding myself of when the story was supposed to be set due to the ongoing use of modern phrases and terminology.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sooz333
  • Sooz333
  • 14-06-2017

Excellent story

What did you like most about An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1?

Some of the issues it deals with are quite dark but was dealt with in a palatable manor , especially given the time it is set in. The place involved were so descriptive you could see them in your minds eye, the characters are also different in their own way , their personalities makes you feel like you know them and care about them. Equally interesting is the fact that Josephine actually existed and I feel she writes with sensitivity and is the champion always of Tey . Great story wonderful writing.

What other book might you compare An Expert In Murder: Josephine Tey Series, Book 1 to, and why?

I would say she has her own style and weavers her story so well you have to keep turning the page which I find refreshing but Anything by Agatha Christie,P.D.James, Ruth Rendell Barbara Erskine, Sarah Walters however, I find her a very intelligent writer , usually I can know the killer very quickly but I have to work harder to figure it out. It also makes you want to find out more of the subject or people that she has drawn from. Any book that makes you want to know more is a good thing . Very imaginative writing, and the historical background well researched.

Which character – as performed by Sandra Duncan – was your favourite?

Defiantly Tay herself, she has a dry wit and doesn't know how funny she is at times, but she is calm in a crises, I like her.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It certainly made me think about the lost generation in the Great War and how things socially changed between the classes specially on estates with grand houses and how tight knit some communities are. Some parts made me sad.

Any additional comments?

I have already bought the other books in the series so far as I want to see how the characters progress and Nicola Upson writes so well and the books are enjoyable to read or listen too, if you have discovered this writer then if you love murder mystery with historical fact it's a must for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for janet
  • janet
  • 04-09-2015

disappointing

I found this difficult to follow as my mind wandered off so much and I had to keep winding back. It didn't grab my attention at all and I was relieved when it was over. On the plus side, the reader was very good.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful