Review: The Singing Sands

The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey

This is an old-fashioned British mystery in the style of Agatha Christie.

Published in 1953, The Singing Sands shows the reader a world and time different from our own. Not just the fictional place and time, but the writer’s post-WWII perspective. How different are our current views on Arabia, on smoking, on air travel, for example.

British colloquialisms caused me to miss many finer points, I am certain, but I very much enjoyed the visit to the wilds of Scotland and to trout fishing. The author’s strongest talent is in her characters. Each were introduced in the manner of an artist painting in oils…one dab at a time.

I quite liked the subtlety, the dead ends, and the red-herrings left in the protagonist’s wake. I was amazed that the investigator was hot on the trail of the murderer without knowing it was a murder, without examining the murder scene, with no witnesses, and with almost no evidence. Very clever.

My disappointment came during the reveal. The culprit suddenly dumped all his information in the investigator’s lap via a letter… his motive, his method, and explanation of every bit of evidence. All the strings were tied up a bit too neatly by a smug perpetrator. The saving grace came when the investigator turned the tables and brought the story to a relatively happy ending.

If you like Agatha Christie or Hercule Poirot, give Josephine Tey a try.


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