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~Pdf ♶ Singing Sands ♣ While traveling on the night train to Scotland, inspector Alan Grant is disturbed by a dead man in BThe deceased was a young man who had been drinking heavily Having accidentally carried off the dead man s newspaper, Grant discovers a cryptic poem beside the newsprint that speaks of The beasts that talk The stones that walk The singing sand That guard the way to Paradise On sick leave from Scotland Yard, the inspector s instincts take over as he uncovers clues to a diabolical murder Old school mystery with a satisfying wrap everything up in a tight package at the end ending If you like to know exactly how whodunit done it, this is your book Feels like I have read it before, but not sure Not my first by Tey nor my favorite but still very entertaining. Josephine Tey is the pseudonym for Elizabeth Mackintosh 1896 1952 Both a playwright under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot and novelist and due to a fierce predilection to keeping her life private, little is known about this author She guarded her life jealously, avoided the press, side stepped photographers, and never did any interviews Biographers for the most part are therefore fairly well pissed off about the whole secretive thing.And that s actually why Tey s novels are a bit of a game wi Josephine Tey is the pseudonym for Elizabeth Mackintosh 1896 1952 Both a playwright under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot and novelist and due to a fierce predilection to keeping her life private, little is known about this author She guarded her life jealously, avoided the press, side stepped photographers, and never did any interviews Biographers for the most part are therefore fairly well pissed off about the whole secretive thing.And that s actually why Tey s novels are a bit of a game with readers and biographers alike including myself Absent documentary information about this writer, it is to the novels they turn for hints about her life It s like knitting, a pleasant past time with many a reader and in fact Tey often referred to her novels as being tantamount to Yearly Knitting One might compare this to a comparable story in today s music industry where Taylor Swift who though not exactly shunning the media, steadfastly refuses to discuss her personal life and points her critics and admireres to her singer songwriter work for the answer to their questions Just so with Ms Tey.And though she wrote primarily mysteries, they appearas an afterthought to Tey When reading her novels, you get the feeling she s pursuing something other than a conclusion to the mysterysomething always wrapped in a puzzle in and of itself and something always decorated using a wonderful sense of language She has been described as writing with exquisite characterization and a meticulous prose style.The books are period pieces, written over half a century ago and require a particular love of reading such pieces which I fortunately possess The Man in Queue her first mystery with Grant written as a beginner was reportedly written in two weeks for a competition sponsored by the publisher Methuen and is dedicated to her typewriter named Brisena Her second Inspector Grant novel, which I ve not read, was A Shilling for Candles Throughout the novels I get a sense that Ms Tey was not fond of celebrated figures in history Her most famous mystery The Daughter of Time would be a good example of writer frowning upon writer in this case, Shakespeare.Romance, or rather marriage is often avoided in her novels It s like Success must be brought to oneself and not through others It describes Inspector Grant, who appears in a number of her novels, perfectly though there are some deviations here and there Bratt Farrar another of her famous novels reveals to the reader Tey s obvious fondness for horses And perhaps through The Singing Sands, a posthumously discovered novel and her last, the reader catches a glimpse of Tey s life long fondness with the poetry of the English and Scottish landscape It is also one of my favorite book covers because it perfectly illustrates the essence of this mystery novel.And who is Inspector Grant I imagine him as a stoic outwardly calm and thoughtful inwardly brimming with intelligence and emotion As with most policemen, he is dedicated to his craft and in typical British mannerisms does so without succumbing to mind numbing intoxicants to forget the horrors of murder and sociopathic behaviorthus avoiding becoming one of the flawed heroes we often encounter in detective mysteries I m not going to write a review for each one of her novels I ll leave it to the reader to tell me who Ms Tey really was And, as always where it comes to series books, I ll repeat this one for all of her Inspector Grant novels Enjoy Excellent mystery and atmospheric settings in Scotland, I will be readingof the intrepid Inspector Alan Grant. Quite a few murder mysteries begin with their victim alive, just long enough that the reader comes to know and like him I hate that With The Singing Sands, the victim is dead from the beginning, but I still got to know and like him through the course of the book, even as Alan Grant did I hate that too, but at least there s a requiem feeling about it here Much as with Daughter of Time, Alan is laid up and in need of something to take him outside himself Here, though, Alan is on medical Quite a few murder mysteries begin with their victim alive, just long enough that the reader comes to know and like him I hate that With The Singing Sands, the victim is dead from the beginning, but I still got to know and like him through the course of the book, even as Alan Grant did I hate that too, but at least there s a requiem feeling about it here Much as with Daughter of Time, Alan is laid up and in need of something to take him outside himself Here, though, Alan is on medical leave from the Force due to nervous issues and severe claustrophobia and I quite like that he did not find it easy requesting this leave Being forced to acknowledge what he sees as a weakness not merely to his no nonsense Super but to himself was a major hurdle But it was necessary, and he was intelligent enough to recognize that he had to get away or snap once and for all since an incident on the job, he has been growing steadily less able to tolerate enclosed spaces, steadily less able to rely on his own reactions to stress Among other things, travel is a nightmare for him The setting where the book begins, a train just pulling in to the station, is the least hideous option which means only that he is, barely, able to keep hold of himself A car or, worse, airplane, would have been nearly fatal for this trip to his cousin Laura and her family in Scotland the train car is confining, but pride and sheer stubbornness get him through the long sleepless night Barely The journey by car from the station to his cousin s home nearly does him in It s a disturbing, absorbing depiction of claustrophobia and its effects on a strong man in his prime who never suffered from any such thing before He is horrified and not a little put out at its intrusion into his life now Alan s sensible, though, in dealing with it, determined to push himself, but not beyond the bounds of reason He approaches the situation much the way he does other problems, and forces himself to proceed logically and again sensibly I think I m coming back to that quality because it s one that seems to go out the window in so many cases, fictional and non Alan s discovery of a dead man on his train young, with a highly individual face is disturbing, though not as disturbing as it would be if a he were a civilian, and b he were not so preoccupied with his own misery Everyone from the police onward takes the situation as it appears young man went one over the eight , fell, hit his head on the sink, and sadly died But there is something which, even in Alan s present state, doesn t sit well Then he discovers that he accidentally carried away the man s newspaper, and that written in a blank space is an extraordinary attempt at poetry, and the man s life, identity, and death become a puzzle he cannot leave alone It all leads him on a quest to learn the truth and maybe, just maybe, regain his own self possession As always, the mystery is merely a device to give Alan and his psyche a workout He just can t let go of the problem, can t accept the official verdict, can t escape the conviction that there sto it all His mind is not the usual simple and undemanding sort I m used to riding along with in a mystery novel As was established in Daughter of Time, he doesn t handle forced inactivity very well, and forced introspection is not his favorite past time it s an unsettling revelation to both him and the reader just how little he enjoys his own company Even the prospect of all the fishing he can handle doesn t help he needs something , and alternates between almost determinedly despairing plans to reinvent his future and the, for him, muchconstructive pursuit of the truth of the matter of the dead man on the train The relationships in the book are pure pleasure Alan and his colleagues his Super is not a cardboard cutout, however small his role in the book Alan and his cousin, Laura, who is very much his Might Have Been Alan and the dead man s shade Alan and the dead man s friend, and the Lady who is stopping over in the area Laura s small son is a creature who skews the likeability average for fictional kids drastically upward he s fabulous There is a joy to this novel, an air of finality and farewell as Alan puts himself back together again and returns to his life, that makes it fitting for this to be the end of the series, the last of the Alan Grants though I do have oneTey book left, when I find it It s a solid satisfying ending I d love , which of course is impossible unless, she said hopefully, there is a cache somewhere of Elizabeth Mackintosh s papers which might yieldAlan Grant but she doesn t seem to have been the type of person to leave boxes full of uncategorized papers , so this is a good note on which to say goodbye, whether it was intended to be the end or not Josephine Tey was the second, lesser pseudonym Mackintosh used Gordon Daviot was the name she used for her serious work, her plays But I remember being surprised to learn of the popularity of her stage work Richard II was almost its generation s Cats, with people going back over and over, buying dolls of the characters and mobbing the stars Yet the plays are, best I can see, out of print I had to go to eBay for a copy of Richard, and I believe that came from England it is Alan Grant who lives on I think he was severely undervalued by his creator The novels are superb, and it has been a joy to reread them Now if only some angel would back a production of Richard, preferably either in New York or on film I have never been a fan of the pure police procedural If not positively a cozy mystery reader, I do tend to prefer mysteries that strike a balance between character development and sleuthing The first few Inspector Alan Grant mysteries were heavy on detecting and pretty light on personality, and I read them withrespect than interest But by the time we reach Tey s last mystery, The Singing Sands, she has invited us into the inspector s head and I found myself muchat home there.The I have never been a fan of the pure police procedural If not positively a cozy mystery reader, I do tend to prefer mysteries that strike a balance between character development and sleuthing The first few Inspector Alan Grant mysteries were heavy on detecting and pretty light on personality, and I read them withrespect than interest But by the time we reach Tey s last mystery, The Singing Sands, she has invited us into the inspector s head and I found myself muchat home there.The inspector has suffered a trauma severe enough to require that he take a month s leave from Scotland Yard, and he plans to spend it fishing among family in the Scottish Highlands But as is so often the case with fictional detectives, his plans go all agley when a body is thoughtlessly strewn in his path His first reaction is to be grateful it s none of his affair, but his curiosity slowly gets the better of him It was amusing to watch him gradually succumb to the irresistible allure of sudden death.Grant begins this story a pathetic shell, a man so wounded in spirit as to be barely functional but of course, he is a detective to his core and having something to detect brings him quickly back to normalcy For those of us conditioned to awareness of PTSD his recovery is suspiciously easy, but the excellent writing and storytelling carried me along on a tide of suspended disbelief.The mystery itself was an engaging one and the slow reveal of facts kept me guessing for a long time The way whodunit was revealed was both hackneyed and incredible, reminding me of a 007 movie without the physical peril But that was a small matter compared to the pleasures of reading the rest of the book I hear that Josephine Tey died prematurely and the manuscript of this book was found on her desk perhaps had she lived longer, she might have revised that ending Sadly Tey wrote only eight mysteries, and this is her last, published posthumously I don t think it s among her best I d rate it perhaps sixth out of the eight, but it s still a great read, and stands out as a character study of her detective, Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard.When he first appeared in The Man in the Queue he struck me as rather bland especially compared to such sleuths as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey With the possible exception of The Daughter of Sadly Tey wrote only eight mysteries, and this is her last, published posthumously I don t think it s among her best I d rate it perhaps sixth out of the eight, but it s still a great read, and stands out as a character study of her detective, Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard.When he first appeared in The Man in the Queue he struck me as rather bland especially compared to such sleuths as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey With the possible exception of The Daughter of Time, he also strikes me in the books he appears in as the most fallible detective protagonist I ve ever read He s not notable for brilliant logical deductions like Holmes or Poirot What he has is what he calls flair intuition, instinct, imagination and that doesn t always steer him the right way At the beginning of The Singing Sands we see a mentally fragile Grant Suffering from overwork, he s subject to a crippling claustrophobia Taking leave to visit his cousin Laura in the Scottish Highlands, he encounters a dead body in one of the sleeping berths, seemingly the result of an accident On a newspaper is scribbled some verse The beasts that talk,The streams that stand,The stones that walk,The singing sands,That guard the way to Paradise.He finds that verse teasing his mind, and it pushes him to solve the mystery of the meaning of the verses and the young man s death, taking him to the Hebrides and to Marsaille The introduction to the newest editions of the Tey books by Robert Barnard don t hold up Tey to a flattering light I don t think Barnard really likes Tey I came across on the internet at one point a list by Barnard of favorite works of crime fiction notably Tey wasn t on his list In his introduction he accuses Tey of anti Semitism, contempt for the working class, a deep uneasiness about any enthusiasm for example Scottish Nationalism that, to her, smacks of crankiness Having recently reread all the books, there are definitely ethnic stereotypes expressed by characters, especially Grant However, notably the only identifiably Jewish character, in A Shilling for Candles, is a positive one who rightly twits Grant about his class prejudices Grant is entirely wrong about him I also can t see anything but respect for working people in Tey s books What she does express contempt for are self styled radical champions of the working class quite a different thing Her attitude there is especially evident in The Franchise Affair The Singing Sands is the book where the digs against Scottish Nationalism are primarily made They don t strike me as cranky though If anything they strike me as refreshing and relevant, as a slap at those who try to flare back to life age old historical grievances And I can certainly see Wee Archie in a lot of current political activists Tey definitely shows a conservative sensibility that might offend the politically correct, and this is definitely one of her novels where that attitude is to the fore And actually the tic I find most disconcerting throughout the novels isn t one Barnard picked up on Tey has a tendency to judge people on their looks not on whether they re attractive or not But Grant believes someone is adventurous because of the shape of his eyebrows and in The Franchise Affair a woman is believed promiscuous because of the shade of blue of her eyes As often is the case with Tey, this book also isn t the strongest of mysteries in a puzzle box sense I found the way the mystery is resolved by a confession in a letter particularly weak This definitely wouldn t be the Tey work I d recommend as an introduction I d choose either The Daughter of Time or Brat Farrar if you haven t yet tried her before But as with all Tey s books, this is strong in prose style, humor and unforgettable characters And it s somehow fitting her last book is one where we get to delve a bit deeper into the psyche of her detective hero Perhaps my least favourite Tey and that s primarily because much of the first half is concerned with Grant s fishing holiday in Scotland The characterisation is strong, as ever, and Tey is probably the best prose stylist of the GA all the same, we get introduced to a dead man in the opening chapter but the real investigation doesn t gather speed till about midway through Once Grant is back in London my interest perked up All the same, this is eminently transparent in terms of mystery Great Perhaps my least favourite Tey and that s primarily because much of the first half is concerned with Grant s fishing holiday in Scotland The characterisation is strong, as ever, and Tey is probably the best prose stylist of the GA all the same, we get introduced to a dead man in the opening chapter but the real investigation doesn t gather speed till about midway through Once Grant is back in London my interest perked up All the same, this is eminently transparent in terms of mystery Great atmosphere, though, developed characters, and a sharp style make this still worth a read 3.5 stars 3.5 Published posthumously, I d like to think that Ms Tey would have revised this novel if she had lived Because there is a lot to be admired about this story in which a burnt out Nervous breakdown PTSD Inspector Grant goes on sick leave Grant s mental struggles are sympathetically described and this part of the novel works really well as is the description of the death of a young man in a train s department and Grant being on hand for the body s discovery As beautifully written as some 3.5 Published posthumously, I d like to think that Ms Tey would have revised this novel if she had lived Because there is a lot to be admired about this story in which a burnt out Nervous breakdown PTSD Inspector Grant goes on sick leave Grant s mental struggles are sympathetically described and this part of the novel works really well as is the description of the death of a young man in a train s department and Grant being on hand for the body s discovery As beautifully written as some of the narrative was, the Scottish part of the story rambled a bit for me,although some of it was very witty Wee Archie was wielding a shepherd s crook that, as Tommy remarked later, no shepherd would be found dead with, and he was wearing a kilt that no Highlander would dream of being found alive inThe story really picked up with the arrival of view spoiler Tad Cullen hide spoiler and it becomes nearer to a true detective story Unfortunately there is also a view spoiler written confession hide spoiler which I think takes a little away from some of the detective work.So this one is a flawed gem Certainly far better than some of her early work like The Man in the Queue, but not up to her best efforts The Daughter of Time Brat Farrar Read it years ago I am a HUGE Josephine Tey fan I ve read all her books, wish she had writtenI need to re read and write some proper reviews, but I know this one is a five I actually bought most of her books, now to go find them