Book review: An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey, #1)An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am familiar with the actual author, Josephine Tey, who was a strong believer in the innocence of Richard III in the murder of his nephews, as evidenced by her book “Daughter of Time.” She was also the author of several mysteries, some of which I have read. And so it intrigued me to learn of a mystery series written with Josephine Tey as the main character of the series.
The author of the mystery series, Nicola Upson, writes a strong debut for the series. I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the Josephine Tey written mysteries–they are very class-conscious, which is typical for the British of the time. This series, however, keeps all of the best of a classic British mystery–interesting characters, clever plot, and interesting historical detail–but jettisons the worst of the class-consciousness of British society. It’s there, of course–it wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of post-WWI Britain if it wasn’t–but it’s not at the forefront of the book and so makes it more palatable to modern readers.
In this novel, Josephine Tey’s blockbuster of a play, Richard of Bordeaux, is heading into its last week of performance at the West End. There are interesting depictions of the West End theatre scene amid the backdrop of Britain trying to recover from the Great War. Josephine herself struggles with the ramifications of fame (if not fortune) while trying to keep her privacy and her integrity. Oh, and there is a murder or two sprinkled in as well.
I really enjoyed this book, with its sympathetic portrayals of survivors struggling with post-war trauma and guilt, and the struggles the British dealt with as they rebuilt their society and country after World War I. The book is extremely well-written with characters you’d like to know and be friends with in real life. I’ve already bought the second book in the series and can’t wait to read it!

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