London the bars were being drawn back from pit and gallery doors. Bang,
thud, and clank. Grim sounds to preface an evening's amusement. But no
last trump could have so galvanized the weary attendants on Thespis and
Terpsichore standing in patient column of four before the gates of
promise. Here and there, of course, there was no column. At the Irving,
five people spread themselves over the two steps and sacrificed in warmth
what they gained in comfort; Greek tragedy was not popular. At the
Playbox there was no one; the Playbox was exclusive, and ignored the
existence of pits. At the Arena, which had a three weeks' ballet season,
there were ten persons for the gallery and a long queue for the pit. But
at the Woffington both human strings tailed away apparently into
infinity. Long ago a lordly official had come down the pit queue and,
with a gesture of his outstretched arm that seemed to guillotine hope,
had said, "All after here standing room only." Having thus, with a mere
contraction of his deltoid muscle, separated the sheep from the goats, he
retired in Olympian state to the front of the theatre, where beyond the
glass doors there was warmth and shelter. But no one moved away from the
long line. Those who were doomed to stand for three hours more seemed
indifferent to their martyrdom. They laughed and chattered, and passed
each other sustaining bits of chocolate in torn silver paper. Standing
room only, was it? Well, who would not stand, and be pleased to, in the
last week of _Didn't You Know?_ Nearly two years it had run now, London's
own musical comedy, and this was its swan song. The stalls and the circle
had been booked up weeks ago, and many foolish virgins, not used to
queues, had swelled the waiting throng at the barred doors because
bribery and corruption had proved unsuccessful at the box office. Every
soul in London, it seemed, was trying to crowd into the Woffington to
cheer the show just once again. To see if Golly Gollan had put a new gag
into his triumph of foolery--Gollan who had been rescued from a life on
the road by a daring manager, and had been given his chance and had taken
it. To sun themselves yet once more in the loveliness and sparkle of Ray
Marcable, that comet that two years ago had blazed out of the void into
the zenith and had dimmed the known and constant stars. Ray danced like a
blown leaf, and her link aloof smile had killed the fashion for
dentifrice advertisements in six months. "Her indefinable charm," the
critics called it, but her followers called it many extravagant things,
and defined it to each other with hand-wavings and facial contortions
when words proved inadequate to convey the whole of her faery quality.
Now she was going to America, like all the good things, and after the
last two years London without Ray Marcable would be an unthinkable
desert. Who would not stand forever just to see her once more?
It had been drizzling since five o'clock, and every now and then a light
chill air lifted the drizzle and half playfully swept the queue from end
to end with it in one long brushstroke. That discouraged no one--even the
weather could not take itself seriously tonight; it had merely sufficient
tang to provide a suitable ap�ritif to the fare in front of them. The
queue twiddled its toes, and Cockneywise made the most of whatever
entertainment provided itself in the dark canyon of the lane. First there
had come the newsboys, small things with thin, impassive faces and wary
eyes. They had flickered down the queue like wildfire and disappeared,
leaving behind a trail of chatter and fluttering papers. Then a man with
legs shorter than his body laid a ragged strip of carpet on the damp
pavement and proceeded to tie himself into knots until he looked as a
spider does when it is taken unawares, his mournful toad's eyes gleaming
now and then from totally unexpected places, in the writhing mass, so
that even the most indifferent spectator felt his spine trickle. He was
succeeded by a man who played popular airs on the fiddle, happily
oblivious of the fact that his E string was half a tone flat. Then,
simultaneously, came a singer of sentimental ballads and a syncopated
orchestra of three. After they had scowled at each other for a moment or
two, the soloist tried to rush things on the possession-being-nine-points
principle, by breaking into a wailing _Because You Came to Me_, but the
leader of the orchestra, handing his guitar to a lieutenant, proceeded to
interview the tenor, with his elbows out and his hands lifted.
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About the Author
Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896-1952), best known as Josephine Tey, is one of the most respected and influential authors in the mystery genre and regarded by many one of the best mystery novelists ever. Her novel, The Daughter of Time, was selected by the British Crime Writers’ Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time and The Franchise Affair, starring her most famous character, Inspector Alan Grant, was 11th on the same list of 100 books. She also used the pen name, Gordon Daviot, primarily to publish plays.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Try sample page before buying terrible format shows up m a
Almost unreadable because of bad formatting. One line is followed by one 1/3 the length and on and on. I have learned to get a sample if available so you do not get trapped into a purchase for something you just have to delete.
I found Josephine Tey by accident while looking for mysteries on the Barnes and Noble website. The reviews intrigued me and I decided to order the first book in the Inspector Grant series. What a great decision that turned out to be! Josephine Tey is a brilliant writer with extraordinary talent. It's true, as the other reviewers noted, that her books are very different from most mysteries. They are full of beautiful images, wonderful settings, interesting characters, and well-developed plots. I can't wait to read the entire series and I only wish there were more of her books to devour.
The first book in Josephine Teys¿ series that introduces Scotland Yard¿s Inspector Alan Grant, The Man In the Queue is a fascinating look at the solving of a murder in the days before forensics and computers. A deceptively simple murder of a man standing in line for a theatre performance. Unfortunately neither the identity of the victim or the murderer will come easy to Inspector Grant.The story follows along as the Inspector painstakingly tracks down each miniscule clue in order to firstly identify the man that was stabbed in the back, and then to build a picture of his life and who was in it that could possible be the murderer. The story, the language and it¿s careless and casual racism are all a bit dated, but it is interesting to look at this early mystery of hers simply for the influence she has had on future writers. Her many references to World War I, even years after that event, certainly highlight the impact this war had on a generation. Although the ending seems to come out of the blue, the clues are there, but as we are so firmly embedded in Alan Grant¿s mindset, we, like him, don¿t pick them up.The story, like the solving of this murder, tends to plod along until we switch to the Scottish Highlands, at that point the story took off for me, and I read avidly to the end. I would say not the best of her work, but certainly interesting enough to encourage me to continue with the series.
Rather a disappointment. I had looked forward to reading this book, remembering how much I enjoyed Tey's "The Daughter of Time" which I read as a teenager more than thirty years.Sadly this book had noting of the sterling qualities of "The Daughter of Time", and subsided into mindless tweeness lacking any semblance of feasible plot or plausible characters.
Although an ¿interesting¿ first mystery novel -- and a very promising one -- this book has a number of flaws. It is unclear what ¿type¿ of mystery novel Tey (Elizabeth Mackintosh) was attempting to write. Was it a police procedural? An action adventure? A discourse on the realities of justice? Insightful examination of the moral and intellectual quandaries of a detective? All these different types of mystery novels seemed to have been wedged together into one and unfortunately, the seams do show. At different times in the book the writer functions as a disinterested observer of life, as the omniscient recorder of the thoughts of all the characters and as a disembodied ¿I¿ who knows and interacts with the detective. Tey¿s writing shows great promise and even with the technical difficulties mentioned above this is certainly a book that would be enjoyed by most fans of the British murders mysteries written in the 1920s.Spoilers ahead.The last few lines of the book ask the reader to consider the question of who has been the villain. The person we finally come to realize did the murder? Most people would argue no. The person who was murdered? One could make a good argument that that was the case. Or are we to think of the person whose actions motivated the behaviour of the murderer? It is perhaps only in retrospect and after years of public education that readers are likely to realize that the core story of this novel is that of a man who continues to feel ownership of a woman who has long since left him behind. One might even say that he becomes a stalker. Certainly at the time this was first published there would have been many who would have felt far more sympathy for the man whose disappointment in love leads him to suicide than for the woman who rejected him. Indeed the writer, and the major characters, do not seem to be excessively concerned that this man was willing to kill a woman rather than ¿lose" her. When once one realizes that this is a story about a woman lashing out to protect another woman from a man who is willing to commit murder-suicide then the story changes from one of cozy murder into a frightening glimpse of how little things have really changed in the last 100 years.
I enjoy a good mystery, and this one suited me right down to the ground.
I really enjoyed the mystery since I wasn't able to figure out any of it until it was revealed. I would have given a five-star rating. Except I have to admit I really didn't understand or care for the style in which it was written. Lines break up in unexpected places, which I believe is called the "poetic" style. As much as possible, I just ignored where the lines ended and actually read it according to punctuation. The book was very enjoyable. In spite of that small annoyance and I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good mystery!
Nice British mystery! I would love to see all of this author's made available on the Nook!