A thrilling classic of golden-age crime, in series with The Singing Sands, Miss Pym Disposes and The Daughter of Time.
The Singing Sands
Illustrated by Mark Smith
Introduced by Val McDermid
One of Tey’s finest novels, this suspenseful story centres on the mysterious death of a young man on a train, and the cryptic poem that gradually reveals the greed and envy behind his demise. Award-winning artist Mark Smith illustrates.
He stumbled up the steps and across the bridge ... great bursts of steam billowed up round him from below, noises clanged and echoed from the dark vault about him. They were all wrong about hell, he thought. Hell wasn’t a nice cosy place where you fried ... Hell was concentrated essence of a winter morning after a sleepless night of self-distaste
Diagnosed with ‘overwork’ and in the grip of debilitating claustrophobia, Inspector Alan Grant takes leave from Scotland Yard and heads for the peaceful home of his cousin Laura, who lives with her family in the Scottish Highlands. As the London mail draws into Inverness, he sees the surly sleeping-car attendant trying to rouse an unresponsive young man. He is compelled, firstly, to point out that the passenger is dead, and secondly to pick up the newspaper that has slipped onto the compartment floor. On it the deceased, who appears to have drunk himself into oblivion, has scrawled an elusive poem about a paradise guarded by ‘singing sand’. Grant is soon fascinated by the hopes and dreams of the dead man with ‘tumbled black hair and ... reckless eyebrows’. And though he has planned to do nothing in Scotland but fish, he cannot help but act on the growing suspicion that a far more sinister story is waiting to be uncovered ...
The Singing Sands is produced in series with A Shilling for Candles, Miss Pym Disposes and The Daughter of Time.
Winner of the Silver Medal (book category) in the Illustrators 57 competition at the Society of Illustrators in New York
Bound in buckram blocked with a design by the artist
Set in Dante with No. 5 display
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations
9˝ x 5¾˝
Paving a way for contemporary crime fiction
Introducing this edition, the acclaimed crime writer Val McDermid explores Tey’s enduring popularity among readers and novelists alike. She also comments on her unconventional characterisation, including Grant’s ambiguous character and his susceptibility to the forces of ‘unreason’ – both uncommon traits in a golden-age detective. For McDermid, Tey was the bridge between that era and contemporary crime fiction, opening up the genre for writers such as Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell. Like the earlier Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair, Tey’s 1952 novel is a classic mystery, but one that is unusually sensitive to the frailties and oddities of human psychology. Mark Smith’s award-winning illustrations capture its atmosphere of quiet suspense.
The crime writers’ favourite
‘From time to time, audiences ask crime writers who we would choose if we could have a single new novel from a dead crime writer. The name that comes up most frequently is not Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle or Raymond Chandler. It’s not even one of the more recently deceased such as Reginald Hill or Elmore Leonard. No, the writer’s choice of fantasy reprise is a reclusive Scottish spinster who wrote only a handful of crime novels. The writer we pick above all others is Josephine Tey.
‘Partly that’s because of the range and quality of the work itself. Reading Tey for the first time is a surprise and a delight; rereading her provokes the same response. But to my mind, of equal importance is Tey’s role as a bridge between the classic detective stories of the Golden Age and contemporary crime fiction. She left the genre in a different place from where she found it and she cracked open a series of doors for others to walk through.’
An extract from Val McDermid’s introduction
About Josephine Tey
About Val Mcdermid
Val Mcdermid is an award-winning crime writer with over 27 novels to her name, translated into over 40 languages. She grew up in Fife, and after a career in newspaper journalism in Glasgow and Manchester, she published her first crime novel, Report for Murder, in 1987. Notable among her books are The Mermaids Singing (1995) which won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award; A Place of Execution (1999), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Grave Tattoo (2006), winner of the Portico Prize for Fiction. She was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger award in 2010, in recognition of her work.
About Mark Smith
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