cover image Nine Lessons: A Josephine Tey Mystery

Nine Lessons: A Josephine Tey Mystery

Nicola Upson. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-68331-321-2

A series of murders inspired by the ghost stories of English author M.R. James challenges Scotland Yard’s Det. Chief Insp. Archie Penrose in Upton’s superlative seventh outing for Penrose and his close friend and investigative assistant, real-life mystery author Josephine Tey (after 2016’s London Rain). One day in 1937, Penrose is summoned to St. John’s-at-Hempstead, a north London graveyard, where the body of church organist Stephen Laxborough was found in a tomb with the stone slab on top pushed back a little. The dead man was evidently buried alive, based on the horrific evidence of his desperate efforts to escape the tomb. Compounding the mystery is the presence in the grave of a torn photograph depicting a manor house; scrawled on a piece of paper in the victim’s breast pocket is the sentence: “What is this that I have done?” This evidence leads Penrose to Cambridge, where his lover, Bridget Foley, and Josephine have both recently settled. A series of attacks on women in the university town ups the ante. Upson successfully incorporates moving and complex interpersonal conflicts involving her main characters into an intricate, credible whodunit story line. Agent: Gráinne Fox, Fletcher & Co. (Oct.)