The Man in the Queue: “It was between seven and eight o’clock on a March evening and all over London the bars were being drawn back from pit and gallery doors.”
Ah, finally I managed to find some time to read a Josephine Tey novel!! I’ve been seeing so many reviews of her novels on other book blogs and hearing so many good things about her writing that I was keen to experience it myself. Initially, I’d planned to start with her lauded Daughter of Time but instead decided to begin with her first novel, The Man in the Queue.
It is nearly the final showing at the Woffington Theatre of Didn’t You Know? starring the famous actress Ray Markable, and the line for tickets stretches far and wide. People murmur and jostle and mill about in excited anticipatory impatience. The wait seems endless but finally the line begins to advance ….. a woman moves forward and ……. a man falls down dead behind her, stabbed by a long stiletto blade. The shock is palpable as people quickly move away. Who could have done it? …. Who has murdered the man in the queue?
Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is given the case and the initial inquires are baffling. Why didn’t the husband and wife standing behind the murdered man see the killer? What about the woman standing in front of him? She claims ignorance as well. And who is the man? From painstaking and doggedly following the leads, Grant finally discovers the identity of the corpse but his discovery simply brings up more questions. Why was the man booked to sail to America? Why did he insist that his best friend not come to see him off? And does that said friend have any involvement in the mystery, perhaps being the killer himself? Grant uses his razor-sharp intellect to navigate the murky waters of the mystery to finally catch a killer and bring justice to the man in the queue.
Even though this is my first novel of Tey’s, I can already tell she will not disappoint me with her other novels. Why? Because her writing is excellent. The plot is distinctly delineated yet is still very interesting and each discovery builds either more tension or births more questions that clearly want for answers. My only quibble with this novel is that the final solution to the mystery is rather a matter of chance, so the reader cannot expect to be led to it by a succession of careful deduction. However, Tey crafts solid, believable characters and the backdrop of the 1920s resonates throughout the novel, pulling the reader right into its depths. If this is the level of Tey’s first novel, I can’t wait to read her others!!