A little while ago, I read a few Josephine Tey mysteries, one after the other after the other. Tey is pretty original, even now; sixty odd years after they were written, these little novels still seem fresh. As you probably know by now, I have never met a mystery I didn't like, but I have to admit that I usually know going in what I can expect.
First I read "The Daughter of Time" (the title is part of a Francis Bacon aphorism: truth is the daughter of time, not of authority). It's about a bedridden Scotland Yard detective who sets out to solve the centuries-old mystery of who killed the two sons (the heir and the spare) of Edward the IV. The prime suspect has always been their uncle, Richard the III, the last of the Plantagenets and the man who became king in their stead. Listen, do you like those old-school documentaries that they used to have on the History Channel? Where they were like "Who killed King Tut?" or "What was this Atlantis place everyone* goes on about, really?" If you do, then you'll like this book. It's a fascinating period in history, and if the stakes seem low in summary, they never do when you're reading the book. It was a page-turner for me. It reminded me a little of Rear Window in its set-up. It sounds sort of boring and constrained in concept, but in both cases, the characters' limitations (on the one hand, and inability to leave one's apartment, on the other, an extreme distance from the crime) are exploited to great effect.
Brat Farrar was actually the most traditional of Tey's mysteries that I read, and also the most melancholy. I get the sense that Tey sort of regrets that someone has to die (even a fictional someone) in order for us to have our entertainment. This is an odd story: there's a family by the name of Ashby, owners of an important English estate. The family was once composed of Aunt Bee and the five children of her late brother and his (also late) wife. After their parents' death, the oldest child, Patrick, committed suicide, leaving his brother Simon the heir to the estate. The story opens on the eve of Simon's coming of age, when a young man appears claiming to be Patrick, thereby challenging Simon's claim to estate. Patrick is of course Brat Farrar, and the meat of the story is concerned with what happens next. This was probably my least favorite of the mysteries; it was very "Rebecca." By Daphne Du Maurier? The story is haunted by Patrick's violent and inexplicable death, and there's an encroaching darkness about the whole thing. It's the only one of Tey's mysteries that really has about it a sense of menace.
In unrelated news, I have been listening to this during workouts at the gym:
I just really feel like it encompasses all the feelings I feel at the gym: euphoria, frustration, boredom, and the one where I'm about to die of a heart-attack.
Also, do you remember how good that first Coldplay album was? I mean, I was fifteen, so who knows, but remember how we felt? The second was not as good, but I heard this today, and oh, memories.
This was also the first video where I didn't think Chris Martin looked like an attractive alien life form. (The unattractive alien lifeforms all look like Jabba the Hutt and the things you find in tap water when you look through a microscope.)
*The conclusion is always that Plato is one of these.