Introduced by Laurie R. King
Illustrated by Mark Smith
A thrilling classic of golden age crime, in series with The Singing Sands.
When the body of a famous film actress is found beneath chalk cliffs on the south coast of England, it is initially thought to be a tragic suicide; the area is notorious for such incidents. However, it soon becomes clear that darker motives were afoot, and potential suspects in the death of Christine Clay stack up at a rapid pace. As the case grows murkier, the man who spent the last week of Clay’s life living with her in a remote cottage goes on the run, and Inspector Alan Grant must race to uncover the truth.
‘All around him hung the bright air, empty as yet of larks. In all the sunlit world no sound except for the screaming of some seagulls on a distant beach.’
In her introduction, American crime writer Laurie R. King discusses Tey’s willingness to break the rules of golden age crime, her cheerful disregard of genre expectations and above all her exquisite prose, as sharp and as sly as a knife between the ribs. Nothing is to be taken for granted in Tey’s novels: her intricate plots are elevated beyond the simple whodunnit by a layer of psychological depth, and every character is capable of hiding secrets.
In A Shilling for Candles, Tey, a famously private person, turns a shrewd eye onto the destructive nature of celebrity. The author’s sympathy for the victim – hounded by the public even beyond death – is conveyed with her characteristic insight and wit. Noting the author’s double life as a playwright, King observes: ‘Tey’s novels are as concentrated as a play: slim in size, broad in emotion, and more thought-provoking than a sprawling epic.’
‘If this is your first time as a guest of Josephine Tey’s imagination, I guarantee it won’t be your last’
Produced in series with The Singing Sands, this edition features illustrations by Mark Smith, who won an award for his work on the previous volume. His spare, kinetic images capture both the period of the novel and the uneasy tension that runs through the story: a man sprints down a beach to a grisly discovery, while shadows linger menacingly in doorways.
‘The prose is nimble, acute, witty … Tey’s fictional worlds come fully furnished: even minor characters are never mere ciphers’
Josephine Tey was the pen-name of Elizabeth Mackintosh, playwright and author of some of the finest detective novels from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. She was born in Inverness in 1896, and taught physical education for a number of years before the success of her first book, The Man in the Queue, in 1929. The book introduced her detective protagonist Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard, who would appear in a further four novels, including The Franchise Affair (1948) and The Daughter of Time (1951). Tey also wrote for the theatre, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot, and had a notable success with Richard of Bordeaux in 1932, starring John Gielgud in the title role. She died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.
A Folio Society book is the ultimate reading experience: the tactile pleasure of crisp print on quality paper, with illustrations that lead the reader further in and words that engage the mind. Proof that we can still do things right in a modern age. It's a thrill to be asked to creep in under the covers.
Laurie R. King is an American detective fiction writer, best known for her detective fiction, in particular the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. She has won or been nominated for a number of prizes, including the First Novel Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the Creasey Dagger from Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association for her first novel A Grave Talent (1993), and the Nero Award for A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1996). Her books appear regularly on the bestseller lists and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994) was named one of the twentieth century’s best crime novels by America’s Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.
Mark Smith has been working as an illustrator for the last six years. His work has been recognised by all the major industry award panels, including American Illustration, Communication Arts, SPD, the V&A Illustration Awards and the UK Association of Illustrators. He has received a Silver Medal from the New York Society of Illustrators (for previous Folio Society work), Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards from the LA Society of Illustrators, and the Best in Show Award from the 3X3 ProShow. His client list includes many prestigious publications, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Guardian and the Financial Times, among others. He has illustrated two other books for The Folio Society, Josephine Tey’s The Singing Sands and Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table.
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