Sunday, 10 November 2013

Review: Miss Pym Disposes, Josephine Tey

Miss Pym Disposes

Josephine Tey

Arrow, 2011 (1946)

This will be quite a short review, partly because it's a few weeks since I finished this book, and partly because it just didn't really do much for me one way or the other. I have been recommended Tey's books on the basis of my enjoyment of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and the like, but this just didn't blow me away.

In superficial ways, it reminded me a little of Gaudy Night by Sayers, mostly because of the setting in a competitive all-girls' school in which students and staff live in close proximity. (My review of Gaudy Night is here.) The end of the year is upon the students, who have final exams and gymnastic demonstrations to work their way through. The murder comes very late in the book, and the majority of the novel is given over to Miss Pym, visitor and outsider, who has some background in psychology and is able to muse on the various dynamics unfolding around her.

Miss Pym's observations are interesting, and Tey is good at deft characterisation, which occupies much of the book as the characters are scrutinised and picked apart by the unexpected visitor. Unravelling the mystery wasn't too difficult, although there are a few slight twists and turns to keep you guessing. I didn't mind the slow build-up, probably because boarding school stories were always a favourite of mine, and this was like a slightly sinister Malory Towers in places, but if you're looking for a crime novel, I would look elsewhere (and if you're looking for boarding school intrigue with some psychology and crime thrown in, I'd go back to Gaudy Night).

Overall rating: 5.5/10

Book source: Borrowed from the library.

1 comment:

  1. interesting to read a review on Josephine Tey, as I've recently read the Josephine Tey Mysteries - An Expert in Murder, etc. It's interesting to think that an author's pen name has been picked up and turned into a fictional character by another author. I enjoyed those books, although they're more gory than I like.


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