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Josephine Tey & Inspector Grant Mysteries
Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth Mackintosh (1896 – 1952), a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. She also wrote as Gordon Daviot, under which name she wrote plays with an historical theme.
Mackintosh was born in Inverness, the daughter of Colin Mackintosh and Josephine (née Horne). She attended Inverness Royal Academy and then Anstey Physical Training College in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham. She taught physical training at various schools in England and Scotland, but in 1926 she had to return to Inverness to care for her invalid father. There she began her career as a writer.
Mackintosh’s best-known books were written under the name of Josephine Tey. Josephine was her mother’s first name and Tey the surname of an English grandmother.
In five of the mystery novels, all of which except the first she wrote under the name of Tey, the hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. (Grant appears in a sixth, The Franchise Affair, as a minor character.) The most famous of these is The Daughter of Time, in which Grant, laid up in hospital, has friends research reference books and contemporary documents so that he can puzzle out the mystery of whether King Richard III of England murdered his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Grant comes to the firm conclusion that King Richard was totally innocent of the death of the Princes.
In 1990, The Daughter of Time was selected by the British-based Crime Writers’ Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time; The Franchise Affair was 11th on the same list of 100 books.
The Franchise Affair also has a historical context: although set in the 1940s, it is based on the 18th-century case of Elizabeth Canning. The Daughter of Time was the last of Tey’s books published during her lifetime. A further crime novel, The Singing Sands, was found in her papers and published posthumously.
About a dozen one-act plays and another dozen full-length plays were written under the name of Gordon Daviot. How she chose the name of Gordon is unknown, but Daviot was the name of a scenic locale near Inverness where she had spent many happy holidays with her family. Only four of her plays were produced during her lifetime. Richard of Bordeaux was particularly successful, running for 14 months and making a household name of its young leading man and director, John Gielgud. (Humorously, Tey writes of Inspector Alan Grant that “he had in his youth seen Richard of Bordeaux; four times he had seen it”.)
Proceeds from Tey’s estate, including royalties from her books, were assigned to the National Trust.
Inspector Grant Novels
Best Buy! The Complete Josephine Tey
Note: Stuck in a queue?
The first of Tey’s Inspector Grant mysteries concerns the murder of an unknown man, apparently struck down as he stands in a ticket queue for a London musical comedy. Grant tenaciously pursues his suspects throughout the length of Britain and the labyrinth of London.
Note: The Big Swim?
A woman’s body is found on the English seacoast, and twisted in her hair is an article screaming murder. For Inspector Alan Grant, the case becomes a nightmare, as too many clues and too many motives arise. It is later discovered that she is the famous movie actress, Christine Clay, who went out for a morning swim.
Note: Inspector Grant appears only briefly at the beginning
Robert Blair was about to knock off from a slow day at his law firm when the phone rang. It was Marion Sharpe on the line, a local woman of quiet disposition who lived with her mother at their decrepit country house, The Franchise. It appeared that she was in some serious trouble: Miss Sharpe and her mother were accused of brutally kidnapping a demure young woman named Betty Kane. Miss Kane’s claims seemed highly unlikely, even to Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, until she described her prison — the attic room with its cracked window, the kitchen, and the old trunks — which sounded remarkably like The Franchise. Yet Marion Sharpe claimed the Kane girl had never been there, let alone been held captive for an entire month! Not believing Betty Kane’s story, Solicitor Blair takes up the case and, in a dazzling feat of amateur detective work, solves the unbelievable mystery that stumped even Inspector Grant.
Note: Tey’s best detective novel?
A witty and sophisticated mystery featuring bestselling author Josephine Tey’s popular Inspector Alan Grant, a beloved character created by a woman considered to be one of the greatest mystery writers of all time.
Literary sherry parties were not Alan Grant’s cup of tea. But when the Scotland Yard Inspector arrived to pick up actress Marta Hallard for dinner, he was struck by the handsome young American photographer, Leslie Searle. Author Lavinia Fitch was sure her guest “must have been something very wicked in ancient Greece,” and the art colony at Salcott St. Mary would have agreed. Yet Grant heard nothing more of Searle until the news of his disappearance. Had Searle drowned by accident or could he have been murdered by one of his young women admirers? Was it a possible case of suicide or had the photographer simply vanished for reasons of his own?
Note: Voted best mystery novel of all time!
Voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1990, Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.
Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.
The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.
Note: A tantalizing poem?
On sick leave from Scotland Yard, Inspector Alan Grant is planning a quiet holiday with an old school chum to recover from overwork and mental fatigue. Traveling on the night train to Scotland, however, Grant stumbles upon a dead man and a cryptic poem about “the stones that walk” and “the singing sand,” which send him off on a fascinating search into the verse’s meaning and the identity of the deceased. Grant needs just this sort of casual inquiry to quiet his jangling nerves, despite his doctor’s orders. But what begins as a leisurely pastime eventually turns into a full-blown investigation that leads Grant to discover not only the key to the poem but the truth about a most diabolical murder.
Other Josephine Tey Mystery Novels
Note: One crime leads to another?
A very intriguing Tey novel!
Miss Lucy Pym, a popular English psychologist, is guest lecturer at a physical training college. The year’s term is nearly over, and Miss Pym — inquisitive and observant — detects a furtiveness in the behavior of one student during a final exam. She prevents the girl from cheating by destroying her crib notes. But Miss Pym’s cover-up of one crime precipitates another — a fatal “accident” that only her psychological theories can prove was really murder.
Note: Old secrets ruin con job?
In this tale of mystery and suspense, a stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family’s sizable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick’s mannerism’s, appearance, and every significant detail of Patrick’s early life, up to his thirteenth year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It seems as if Brat is going to pull off this most incredible deception until old secrets emerge that jeopardize the imposter’s plan and his life.
Other novels (Not mystery)
Kif: An Unvarnished History (1929) – as Gordon Daviot
The Expensive Halo: A Fable without Moral (1931) – as Gordon Daviot
The Privateer (1952)
Claverhouse (1937) – as Gordon Daviot (The life of 17th-century cavalry leader John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee)
Richard of Bordeaux (1932)
The Laughing Woman (1934)
Queen of Scots (1934)
The Stars Bow Down (1939)