Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson

When Josephine Tey sets out to write a novel about the notorious Finchley baby farmers hanged for their crimes in 1903, she has little idea of the relevance of her research to the modern-day murder of a young seamstress.

Moving between the decadence and glamour of a private women's club in thirties London and the claustrophobia of Holloway Prison, Tey discovers how crimes of the past destroy those left behind - long after justice is done.

I am fast falling head over heels in love with this series of books. I have read the first two, An Expert in Murder and Angel with Two Faces, both really excellent reads, and Two for Sorrow is no exception.

One of the things I really loved about this book is the story within the story. The character of Josephine Tey is based on the real life author of the same name (although this in itself is a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh). So, the Josephine in our book is writing a fictionalised account of an actual crime which took place in 1903. 

Every word in this book is relevant to the plot. Additionally, the story of the baby farming interweaves in a myriad of ways and demonstrates the aftermath of a crime which was committed almost a generation previously. Cleverly, this all connects with the novel as we read it and the murder of the young seamstress. Ms. Upson intelligently draws all these strands together and just as I approached the denouement and thought I had solved the mystery, in comes a marvellous twist at the end which I had not anticipated.

The haunting front cover, illustrated by Mick Wiggins, cleverly depicts the atmosphere of the prison. The descriptions in the narrative of Holloway Prison are palpable and I could almost experience the claustrophobia that the inmates and visitors felt during their time there. 

I cannot enthuse enough about this book. It is intricately plotted, intelligently written and totally engrossing. I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Fear in the Sunlight.

ISBN: 978 0571846359

Publisher: Faber and Faber

About the Author:

Nicola Upson was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works and the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England.
Her debut novel, An Expert in Murder, was the first in a series of crime novels whose main character is Josephine Tey - one of the leading authors of Britain's Golden Age of crime writing.
She lives with her partner in Cambridge and spends much of her time in Cornwall, which was the setting for her second novel, Angel with Two FacesTwo for Sorrow is the third book in the Josephine Tey series, followed by Fear in the Sunlight.

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