Happy New Year! My resolution for this year is to read at least one country crime book a week. This may not sound like much, but when you have a full-time job, and a long commute by car, there’s not a lot of time left over, and I want to read the occasional non-fiction book as well, so there you have it: one a week.
For this week, it’s a carry-over from the end of 2013 – “The Death of Lucy Kyte“, by Nicola Upson. It starts with all the beginnings of a romantic novel, when the heroine, author Josephine Tey, is left a cottage in Suffolk in her godmother’s will. A provision in the will means she has to go visit the cottage to clear it out, and once there, she finds that the cottage is central to an old murder mystery that pre-occupied her godmother. Tey is also trying to write a biography, so decides to stay in the cottage both to write her own work and to discover more about her godmother and the murder.
From early on, there is a creeping sense of unease, particularly as certain events seem to contain elements of downright malevolence, and the author skilfully ratchets up the pressure, to the point where I felt uncomfortable enough to want to give up reading. This is a well written blend of fact (with elements of the life of the real Josephine Tey, as well as the real Red Barn Murder) and fiction, but with none of the cosiness of the Golden Age of crime fiction in which it is set. If there were a symbol for “non-cosy”, such as a teacosy in a circle with a red diagonal bar across it, it should be added to the cover. Cleverly done, but too uncomfortable.
On a different note, on the subject of tea things – kudos to Janet Rudolph for finding these…