I was left feeling somewhat unsatisfied.
Josephine Tey is investigating the notorious Finchley Baby Farmers episode, interviewing people she knew and trying to get an insight into this terrible crime in order to write a fiction book. Suddenly one of the seamstresses at Motley dies horribly and there has to be an investigation, the past and present collide and relationships are messy.
Several of the people involved need to talk better to each other.
It's interesting but somehow I felt like the relationships overshadowed the mystery, I have no issues with the relationships but I felt that the sometimes intruded on the murder mystery in ways that made it more complicated than it really needed to be.
It could be argued that the baby-farmers were monsters and some of what is done is monstrous but it doesn't really fit into any of my free slots (it does fill Darkest London, Amateur sleuth, Terrifying women and murder most foul but I've used those) so Raven it is.
Originally published in 1945 this does show some racism towards the "natives" and shows them being quite cliched, but it also does this for some of the British.
Set on the probably fictional Apostle Island on the Windward Isles where the capital, Wigtown, is dominated by Premier Justice Antoine Jacques a Frenchman married to Julia who has been stricken with paralysis for many years, who is British, referred to as La Morte by many on the island. In the household is also her son, Raoul, her cat-lady sister, Hattie Brown and Prudence Whitaker, Hattie's secretary.
Quentin Seal is a mystery writer, or at least he's using his writing to fund travel around the world. He writes when he has to but otherwise leads a life of idleness and travel. He's on the island and visits the the Jacques house and accidentally becomes the discoverer of Julia's sudden death. A tragic death but considered by some a merciful release. Things are complicated more by questions of who was where when it happened.
Then the son is found stabbed to death and Quentin is called in to help the investigation and while he demurs at first he throws himself at the problem with all his ability. It's full of twists and turns and complications and red herrings galore. There's also an interesting twist to the end and the motives of some of the characters.
This could be: murder most foul, locked room (to an extent, in particular all the suspects have alibis); terrifying women, Amateur sleuth, cosy mystery, and Terror in a small town. I'm going with Terror in a small town.
My only re-read this year and my previous review stands.
This is like a guilt-free trip to the circus and the big cats are supporting characters and add some of the humor. The circus people messing with the investigator makes it fun, though there are some tense moments.
... always an investigator. Nick thought he had left all that investigation stuff behind him but it keeps chasing him down and insisting he gets involved, sometimes at the wrong end of a gun.
Oh man they put away a lot of booze. I remember this from the film (and now I want to watch it again) This book is well-served by the film and in fact the snappy dialogue reads like it should be a film script.
Nick and Nora Charles are spending their Christmas and New Year in New York and are pulled into a missing man mystery where Nick knew the man back when he was a detective and he is reluctant to leave his luxurious life behind to get caught up in shenanigans.
Oh man, the liver damage if you sipped a drink every time a drink is mentioned. They spend their day well-pickled.
I liked it, honestly preferred the movie but it was a fun read.
It falls into the Classic Noir and Murder most Foul squares but I'm going to use Classic Noir for this one.