Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

"The Singing Sands" by Josephine Tey (Arrow Books 2011)

A whodunnit first published in 1952. I found some of the sentences hard going, and the dialogue not always convincing. Perhaps it's the dialect or era -

  • Browsing. A fattening-up for the table. A mindless satisfaction of animal desires. Browse, indeed! The very sound of the word was an offence. A snore. (p.3)
  • They fished turn-about, in a fine male amity (p.31)
  • 'I take it that he is a once-born.'
    'Him! He's not born at all, man. He's a-a-a egg.'
    Grant concluded that the word Pat had sought was amoeba, but that knowledge had not reached so far.

There's much more about Grant's conquering of his own demons than of the crime, and Grant's deductions from handwriting (and observing the similarity between "Rub'al-Khali" and "robbing the Caley") are far-fetched. I like the idea that the detective has a debt to the murder victim (the investigation acting as therapy). Grant's "inside voice" is so overt that it's a psychological problem in itself.

I had trouble determining whether there were sexual innuendos - things were "gay" and "queer" (far enough) but on p.161, the beautiful widow Zoe says "You haven't missed anything, Alan Grant. No one has had a nibble all day. Would you like to take my rod for a little? Perhaps a change of rhythm will fetch them"

Grant takes planes rather than trains as often as we do nowadays. On p.234 he receives as letter from the murderer which explains the plot.

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