Monday, October 17, 2011

Mystery Monday- Tey for Two

I've been reading all my life, or at least since I was five. The first book I read on my own was I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, by Dr. Seuss.  I can remember deciphering the first sentence on the first page, the rest of the text still just mysterious letters on the page.  I have had a book in my hands almost every day ever since.  I love the literature of the past; Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, and my very favorite, Dostoevsky.  I love the stories of Flannery O'Connor.  I've got Sir Walter Scott on my Kindle, along with St. Athanasius, and G.K. Chesterton.  But what I really, really, love to read are mysteries, particularly British mysteries written between, say, 1920 and 1950, or thereabout.  "Vintage" mysteries, from the Golden Age of mystery writing and a bit beyond. (Technically, I believe the Golden Age of mystery novels starts at around 1913 and ends around 1945, at the end of WWII.)  I do enjoy some American mystery writers from the same time period, but my favorites are British.

I've decided to use my blog to highlight some of my favorite mystery writers, especially those who may be lesser known. In fact, I'm not going to talk about the Grande Dame of mystery fiction, Agatha Christie, at all, except to say that her books were what I started with way back when I was around thirteen years old.

I just finished reading two books (The Man in the Queue, and A Shilling for Candles) by the Scottish writer Elizabeth MacKintosh, who wrote under the names of Gordon Daviot and Josephine Tey.  I believe that most of her novels are now published under the name of Josephine Tey.  I think she considered herself a playwright who occasionally wrote novels, although today her books are probably better known than her plays. She loved history and at least two of her books are based on historical events.  She had an idea that the notorious King Richard III, who through the ages has been known as the wicked king who had his own nephews murdered in the Tower of London, was actually innocent of that crime.  She wrote a play about him, Richard of Bordeaux, and one of her mystery novels, one of my favorites, The Daughter of Time,  is a defense of the much maligned Richard.

She only wrote eight mystery novels, starting in 1929 with The Man in the Queue and ending shortly before her death in 1952 with The Singing Sands. I've read six, so far, and each one has been very enjoyable and unique.  I'll list all of her books here, since there are so few of them:

The Man in the Queue
A Shilling for Candles
Miss Pym Disposes
The Franchise Affair - a favorite of mine
Brat Farrar
To Love and Be Wise  
The Daughter of Time - highly recommended!
The Singing Sands

I have found some of her books at the library, but because I have this sick need to own all these old books, I am not satisfied with checking books out at the library. Any time I have the opportunity to visit used book shops, antique stores or "junk-tique" stores I always check for books by my favorite authors.  The large 3-in 1 book in the picture above was found on a trip to the Smokies. I don't know how that book ended up in an antique mall in Wears Valley, TN, but that's where I found it. I think I paid about $2.00 for it. I found the other two on the AbeBooks website.

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