Josephine Tey rip-off? Nicola Upson – An angel with two faces

Another mistake picked up in a charity shop.  This book, the second in a series, is strange in the fact that it has the character of the 1930s crime novelist, Josephine Tey investigating a mystery.  This seems  a ridiculous presumption considering she never really existed but was the pen name of Elizabeth Mackintosh.

It takes place in Cornwall with the drowning of Harry Pinching. Tey and her Inspector friend Archie Penrose are by coincidence visiting and become involved in the mystery.   The plot largely seems to be anachronistic – most of the characters seem to have a tolerance of incest, homosexuality, etc. despite being set in the 1930s.  I have a feeling (could be wrong) that Upson is a lesbian and is trying to introduce her agenda of homosexuality into a story into which it just doesn´t quite fit.  The plot is highly dubious and seems to just have too many strands, loopy sister, corrupt vicar, psychopathic gamekeeper, etc .  The novel starts well and then drags, I even found myself skimming parts during climax scenes such as murders.  Still the cover is nice but the ´Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead´, seems like it has been written for a Hollywood film trailer.Overall a bit tedious – avoid this.


 

 

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Josephine Tey rip-off? Nicola Upson – An angel with two faces

  1. db

    I am reading Upson’s book Two for Sorrow and I had the same impression–that there is no way people in that era would be so tolerant of homosexuality and that was the author’s agenda.

  2. J. Carr

    I have had the same feeling that this is a gay author who has successfully used Josephine Tey’s name to promote her own books. I am surprised that she was allowed to do this – her works should stand or fall by their own merit, not be linked at Amazon or wherever with Josephine Tey’s elegantly written works.

  3. Yes I agree, the whole premise of these Tey as detective novels seemed a bit weak and unconvincing to me.

  4. Mary

    I SO agree with the comments about the author forcing a modern viewpoint (and lesbian?) into a 1930’s setting. Josephone Tey is one of my favorite mystery writers; and I really resent Upson’s co-opting Tey to present her own reconstructed “take” on this era. And really, it DID get a bit boring!

  5. Marika Layton

    I also wonder about the legalities of tasking such liberties with a real person who is no longer able to defend herself. I agree that she seems to be parasitically using Tey as a means of gaining a ready made audience of Tey fans. The next book in the series has gratuitous sex scenes between Tey and a lesbian lover. If Tey had grandchildren living now I suspect they would have something to say about UPSON using their grandmother to make her point.

    • Yes Marika, I think you have a valid point there, she would never get away with it if there were direct descendants. I know people do write fictionalised accounts of real people but they usually tend to be from an earlier period of history than this.

  6. James McPeak

    Josephine Tey wrote several produced plays, and one of her books was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. It is very likely that she was in contact with gays/lesbians in her career, and several of her books have gay characters. Additionally literary and artistic circles in Great Britain in the 20s and 30s had any number of gays and lesbians in the thick of things. Acceptance of gays and lesbians among the cognoscenti was not unusual at all. Upson’s use of gay characters is not as anachronistic as you imply.

  7. I am looking forward very much to Jennifer Morag Henderson’s proposed biography of Josephine Tey. She has the added advantage of knowing Miss Tey’s family and unlike Ms Upson, she has no agenda of her own apart from a genuine desire to present the known facts of Miss Tey’s life.

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