“A new and assured talent….Nicola Upson is to be congratulated.”—P.D. James
Author Nicola Upson brings legendary mystery writer Josephine Tey back for a third investigation in Two for Sorrow, the spellbinding follow-up to An Expert in Murder and Angel with Two Faces. Fans of P.D. James, Agatha Christie, and Jacqueline Winspear will relish this ingenious literary creation, as one of the most beloved mystery writers of the twentieth century, while doing research for a new novel based on a horrific case of multiple child murder in 1903 London, is drawn into a chillingly related hunt for a sadistic, present-day killer.
About the Author
Nicola Upson is the author of five previous Josephine Tey mysteries, including An Expert in Murder, and two works of nonfiction. She has worked in theater and as a freelance journalist. A recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England, she splits her time between Cambridge and Cornwall.
Read an Excerpt
Two for SorrowA Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey
By Nicola Upson
Harper PaperbacksCopyright © 2011 Nicola Upson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJosephine Tey picked up an extravagantly wrapped hatbox
and used the perfect Selfridge bow to hook it on to the rest of
'Are you sure you wouldn't like me to have that delivered for
you, Madam?' the assistant asked anxiously, as if the hat's
independent departure from the shop were somehow a slur on
her standards. 'It's really no trouble.'
'Oh no, I'll be fine,' Josephine said, smiling guiltily at the
group of young girls behind the counter. 'Carrying this will
stop me going anywhere else today, and that's probably just as
well if I send many more packages round to my club, they'll
be charging me for an extra room.'
Balancing her recklessness as best she could, Josephine took
the escalator down to the ground floor. Its steady, sedate
progress gave her plenty of time to admire the vast, open plan
design of the store, a look which was still so different from
what most of London's shops had to offer. The whole building
seemed to sparkle with an innate understanding of the connection
between a woman's eye and her purse; even the prominent
bargain tables were neatly stacked with beautiful boxes
that gave no hint of their reduced price. December was still a
week away, but staff were already beginning to decorate the
aisles for the festive season and the familiar department store
smell plush carpets and fresh flowers had been replaced by
a warm scent of cinnamon which only the drench of perfume
from the soap and cosmetic departments could keep at bay. As
a ploy to make Christmas seem closer than it really was, it
seemed to have worked: even this late in the afternoon, the
shop was packed with people and Josephine had to fight her
way past the make-up counters to the main entrance and out
into the bustle of Oxford Street.
She turned left towards Oxford Circus, following the long
stretch of glass frontage to the corner of Duke Street. The shop
windows were full of wax models, each a variation on the
theme of Lot's wife, forever stilled in the midst of a gesture.
Some beckoned to the curious to step inside, others carried on
with their imaginary lives, oblivious to the flesh and blood
women who studied every detail, but all were arranged against
a background of light and colour which had been as carefully
designed as any stage set. Josephine paused by a particularly
striking bedroom scene. A ravishing wax figure, dressed in a
crêpe de Chine nightgown, stepped out of a nest of silken
sheets and pillows. Her pink foot rested lightly on the floor,
and she stretched a perfectly manicured hand over to her
bedside table, which held a morning paper, a novel The
Provincial Lady in America, Josephine noticed and a tea tray
with the finest bone china. Her dressing table a magnet for
feminine extravagance gleamed with crystal, gold-stoppered
bottles. It was a powerful image, but its message that a life of
comfort and intimacy was available to anyone who knew
where to shop was as painful for some as it was seductive to
others. There was a whole generation of women for whom this
would never be a reality, whose chances of happiness and
security, even companionship, had been snatched away by the
war, and no amount of satin could soften the blow of what
they had lost. Glancing at the spinsters on either side of her
she used the word half-heartedly, aware of her own hypocrisy
in treating them as a race apart Josephine knew that the
troubled look on their faces was about more than the lingerie's
ability to withstand the November cold.
The pavement was only just wide enough to accommodate
a double flow of pedestrians, and Josephine walked on slowly,
recognizing herself in the women from provincial towns who
seemed utterly engrossed in their business, determined not to
miss a thing. It was after five o'clock and, in the last hour, the
pinks and oranges of a winter sunset had quickly given way to
a sky the colour of blue-black ink. An unbroken line of street
lights stretched ahead of her like pearls on a string, drifting
into the distance and relieving the mile-long stretch of shops
ladies' mile, as it was known from the ordinariness of the
day. Some of the smaller branches had already closed, emptying
more workers out onto the streets, and a few shop girls
stopped to gaze wistfully into the windows of the larger stores,
a long day on their feet having strengthened their desire to
stand for once on the other side of the counter; most, though,
headed quickly for the underground or for bus queues which
grew longer by the second, muttering impatiently to themselves
and keen to make every second of freedom count before
the daily routine began again.
As impressive as its sequence of huge stores was, Oxford
Street was one of Josephine's least favourite parts of London,
something to be endured for the sake of a weakness for clothes
but never for longer than necessary. Gladly, she left its crowds
and its clatter behind and cut through into the more select
surroundings of Wigmore Street. There was something about
the anonymity of walking through London in the early evening
that never failed to delight her, a sense of freedom in the
knowledge that for as long as she chose no one in the world
knew where she was or how to contact her. She had traveled
down from Inverness ten days ago, but had so far managed to
keep her presence a secret from all but a few casual acquaintances
at her club. It couldn't last forever; there were several
engagements booked for the following week and she would
have to pick up the telephone soon and open a floodgate of
invitations, but she was in no hurry to socialize before she had
to. A world in which there were no timetables to be followed
or deadlines to be met, and where messages left were never for
her, suited Josephine perfectly. She was determined to enjoy it
for as long as possible.
Even so, the sort of undemanding companionship offered
by an afternoon of dedicated shopping was a relief after the
solitary morning she had spent in her room just her and a
typewriter and a series of shadowy figures from a past which
felt utterly alien to her. She was still not sure about the novel
she was working on, and wondered if her desire to write something
other than a detective story had been wise after all.
When her editor suggested a book with a historical slant, a
fictionalized account of a true crime seemed a good idea,
particularly one with which she had a personal connection,
but the claustrophobic horror of Holloway Gaol was starting
to depress her and she had only just begun. Summer both
the real summer she had spent in Cornwall and the imaginary
version which she had recently delivered to her publisher
seemed a long way away, and she found herself craving the
warmth of the sun on her back and the comforting presence of
Detective Inspector Alan Grant, hero of her first two mysteries.
These early stages of a book, when all the characters were
unfamiliar, were always the hardest to write. Getting to know
them felt like walking into a room full of strangers, something
from which her shyness made her recoil in horror; she would
be pleased to get further on with the story, even if the world
she was creating was unlikely to get any cheerier.
Across the street, the Times Book Club was still open and
she was amused to see that books never failed to bring out the
dormant shopper in a man. A lamp under the blind threw a
welcoming yellow glow on to the shelves, where faded covers
of popular novels and obscure political pamphlets were
brought together as randomly as the people who browsed
them. She considered going in, but decided that she was too
laden with shopping to manage the sort of rummaging that
books required, and pressed on instead to Cavendish Square.
Here, the streetlamps were more forgiving, their pools of light
interspersed with longer stretches of darkness, and there was a
restful elegance about the area. The Square had been more
fortunate than many of its London counterparts, where
residential buildings were asked to rub along with modern offices,
and it still consisted principally of beautifully proportioned
old houses. It was home time and, as she made her way round
to number 20, Josephine watched the lights coming on in the
upper stories, imagining doors opening and voices calling up
the stairs while life moved from the office to the sitting room.
The Cowdray Club occupied a particularly handsome
eighteenth-century town house on the corner of Cavendish
Square and Henrietta Street, at the heart of what was once the
most fashionable area of Georgian England. The house had
been bought from Lord Asquith the latest in a line of distinguished
owners and, in 1922, established as a social club for
nurses and professional women by Annie, Viscountess
Cowdray. Lady Cowdray whom Josephine had never met but
who had been, by all accounts, a formidable fundraiser and
loyal supporter had also paid for a new College of Nursing
headquarters to be built in Asquith's old garden; thanks to
some ingenious architectural thinking, the two buildings now
functioned happily together, one providing for a nurse's
working needs and the other for her rest and relaxation. Just
over half of the Cowdray Club's membership came from the
nursing profession. The rest were from all walks of life
lawyers, journalists, actresses and shop-girls, attracted by
stimulating conversation, comfortable surroundings and the
cheapest lunches in town and Josephine was pleased to call
it home whenever she wanted her time in London to be private
and free from obligations to friends. Since Lady Cowdray's
death a little over three years ago, the members had not lived
together quite as harmoniously as the buildings: nursing was
a political profession, and those left to run the club in its
founder's absence had different views on its priorities and
future. It was the same when any natural leader died or moved
on, she supposed, but things were bound to settle eventually;
in the meantime, she kept her head down and tried to avoid
Outside the main entrance, she balanced her parcels precariously
on one arm but the door flew open before she could
reach it, and a young woman one of the club's servants
rushed out, nearly knocking her to the ground.
'Am I missing the fire?' Josephine asked, a little more
sarcastically than she meant to.
'Crikey, Miss I'm so sorry,' the girl said, bending down to
pick up the boxes that had skidded across the pavement and
into the street. 'I wasn't looking where I was going.'
'Obviously,' Josephine said, but softened as she noticed how
upset the girl seemed. 'I don't suppose there's any harm done.
None of this is breakable.' She held out her hand to take the
last of the parcels. 'What's the rush, though? Is everything all
'Oh yes, Miss. It's just that I'm on my break and I don't get
long. I'm already late to meet someone.'
'Even so, surely you've got time to go back for your coat?'
She looked at the thin cotton dress and pinafore which all the
club's housemaids wore. 'It's November you'll catch your
death going out like that.'
'I'm all right, Miss, and I'd rather get off. To tell the truth,
I'm not supposed to use this entrance but it's so much quicker
than going out the side door and all the way round. That's why
I was in such a hurry Miss Timpson on reception was
showing someone through to the bar, so I nipped out the front
while she wasn't looking.' She glanced across to the Square,
then turned back to Josephine. 'I'd be ever so grateful if you
didn't say anything, Miss, and I'm fine honestly. I won't be
out here long.'
'All right, then . . . ?'
'All right, Lucy I won't hold you up any longer. But be
more careful next time.'
'Yes, Miss thank you.'
Josephine watched as Lucy hurried off towards the middle
of Cavendish Square, then turned and went inside, glad to be
out of the cold. The club's entrance hall was spacious and
uncluttered, the focal point being a long reception desk made
of diligently polished mahogany. A modest bronze tablet hung
to the right of the desk, set in an oak frame which contained
the Cowdray coat of arms and recorded the gratitude of the
first two thousand members to their founder; other than that,
the walls were free of decoration, and the eye of any visitor was
drawn instead to a number of beautifully furnished rooms
which opened straight off the foyer. Miss Timpson was back at
her post, and Josephine was treated to the full Cowdray Club
'Ah, Miss Tey,' she beamed from behind her desk.
'You've had a successful afternoon, I see. Can I get you your
'That would be lovely,' Josephine said, matching the sincerity
of the receptionist's smile and trying to think who the
woman reminded her of. 'And there are some more parcels on
their way, I'm afraid.'
'They're already here Robert has just taken the last of
them up to your room.' She cast a judgmental eye over the
parcels, lingering on the scuff marks where the boxes had hit
the ground. 'Would you like him to give you a hand with
those? I'm afraid the lift's out of order again.'
'No, no I'll manage,' Josephine said, knowing that she had
in Miss Timpson's eyes at least wasted quite enough of
Robert's time already that day. 'They're not heavy.'
'If you're sure.' She reached up to take the key off its hook,
and Josephine realized instantly that the resemblance she had
been racking her brains to place was with the mannequin in
the shop window: Miss Timpson shared that untouched-by-
the-cares-of-the-world quality, an air of casual perfection
which most women found insufferable, if only because they
aspired to it themselves and always fell so short of the mark.
'Just say if there's anything else you require.'
Excerpted from Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson Copyright © 2011 by Nicola Upson. Excerpted by permission of Harper Paperbacks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I recently read Nicola Upson's first novel, An Expert In Murder, which I liked a lot. So I ordered her next two novels, Angel With Two Faces, and Two for Sorrow. I thought them both much darker, depressing and more graphically violent than her first work. I felt the violence was gratuitous, and detracted from the stories, I didn't finish Two For Sorrow, and ended up donating both of them to my local public library. If you want a really good mystery read, try the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.
I didn't particularly like this book and am in two minds about whether to try another from the series. I found the characters difficult to like and a bit one dimensional - again this may be because I have missed some background development in preceding books. I did like the idea of the historical story being told in the form of chapters in a draft for a book and it also raised an area that I had not previously heard about in terms of `baby farming' which was drawn from actual cases from that period.As a mystery, however, I found the book disappointing.
It took me about 9 months, which should say something about my enjoyment of this book. In the end I found the mystery well constructed, but I was put off at first by the baby killing (I knew that was the subject when I requested the book, but got pregnant between request and books arrival and suddenly found the subject too upsetting to want to read about). I wasn't very in to the personal relationship drama of the book, but all mysteries seem to have them. Just okay to me.
I received this book through the Early Reviewers program. This is a third book of a series featuring the author Josephine Tey as the protagonist. Having read all of the "real" Tey's books, I was very excited to try this book out. It was better than good. Although the theme was dark -- baby murderers (baby farmers), it captured the early twentieth century's class/gender inequalities especially as it revolves around poor women and their lives and families. "Tey" is writing a new crime novel depicting the conviction and hanging of two women involved in "helping" women who find themselves in situations where they cannot provide for their children. I look forward to reading the first two books.
Two for Sorrow was a very, very heavy read for me. Most mysteries tend to be somewhat heavy, but the subject matter here made it almost over the top.I took several breaks and read this book while reading another, just so that I could keep a cool head and try to wrap my mind around what was occurring here. While parts of the book was cripplingly interesting, other parts were a little confusing, which, combined with the heavy subject material, made for just a bit of a rough reading experience.One mistake I made before picking up this book was assuming that, even though it was the third in the series, I¿d be able to get into it. I was wrong. There were names and events being tossed around that made me feel as if I¿d walked into a conversation that had begun well before I got there. I was still able to get enough put together to get the gist of the story, and I was still interested enough in the resolution to finish, but it was a very confusing ending to me ¿ as I still am trying to put pieces together and figure out who was who.I¿m not sure that I am interested enough to pick up the series from the beginning, but we¿ll see. My opinion has changed before after time has allowed me to work through things to my satisfaction.
Although this is the first I have read of the Josephine Tey stories, it is actually the third in the series; after reading this one, I was sorry that I didn't read the others first. I enjoyed the story very much and feel it would have been better if I had read the earlier books to have all the back story (there were just a couple points where I was a bit confused and wondered what had happened earlier).The story got off to a bit of a slower start but by a quarter of the way through I couldn't put it down and read the last 300+ pages in one sitting. Being a big fan of murder mystery, it was nice to have character development along with some plot twists. Upson's story has a lot to offer: the usual crime procedural with some love and real-life crime involved as well. Sometimes things got a bit too philosophical and off-track but just about the time I started to sense it, the story moved along. Since this is an Advanced Reader's copy it could be different in the final version. My favorite characters were the investigators Penrose and Fallowfield, which may not have been the author's intention, but it was nice to have an interest in more than just the title character (although sometimes it felt a little like an Archie Penrose mystery instead of a Josephine Tey mystery).Josephine is writing a fiction book based on a true crime and I couldn't help wondering if her process was really what Upson's process was as she put the book together. It was another interesting avenue that I don't see very often.Overall, I liked the book and will be going back to the first two books in the series to fill in the blanks.
I have such mixed feelings about this book. It was such a painful book that I almost put it down partway through (right after the murder). It surprised me that I reacted that way to it. But we have Josephine Tey working on a book about women involved in child murder, followed by one of the most brutal murders I think I have ever read about in a mystery. Usually, my fondness for the detective pulls me through the book, but Josephine's character is so ambiguous that I didn't feel connected to her (and that ambiguity about her is part of the story, so I see why that was true of this book). So I looked to her friend Archie Penrose as the "hero" of the book, and by the end, I was hooked. I guess I would ultimately recommend it, but I do think it is a hard book to read.
I was drawn to this book because I think that Josephine Tey was an extremely talented writer. What I liked about all of her books is that they were all different, but all good, and didn't remind me of anything else.I realized that this book is the third in the series, other than a few minor references, not having read the previous two installments did not ruin my reading pleasure in any way.The story takes the real life 1903 hanging of Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, who were sentenced to death for a series of newborn murders, while the birth mothers believed that their children were being given good homes and taken care of.Josephine Tey's part of the story takes place in 1936, while she is researching the facts of this case for a book that she is writing. She then finds herself thrust in the middle of two other murders, which may or may not be related to baby murder case.The story fell a little flat for me in that Josephine doesn't actually have anything to do with solving the current murders, but spends a lot of time with Inspector Archie Penrose who is in charge of the case and has feelings for Josephine, who is conflicted about embarking on a lesbian relationship. I never felt as though I had enough background about the baby killer case, and not having read the other two books, I wasn't sure of the history between Archie and Josephine. I will at some point, read the previous installments to satifsy my curiosity.
In London for a charity gala at her social club, author Josephine Tey uses the opportunity to conduct research for her current book, a novel about the events surrounding a real crime and the execution of the two women convicted for it. Several women associated with the Cowdray Club have first-hand knowledge of the 30-year-old events. The murder of a young woman during the preparations for the charity gala could be connected to the long-ago events. Josephine's research is useful to her good friend, Inspector Archie Penrose, who is brought in to investigate the murder.I had already read the first two books in the series and, while I didn't like them as well as any of Tey's mysteries, I thought the series had great potential. This book fell short of my expectations. While Josephine freely shares important background information with Archie, she is not involved in the solution of the present day crime. Archie is unwilling to share details of the investigation with her because he doesn't want his suspicions to affect her behavior toward the suspects. Josephine shows little interest in the investigation, anyway. She is more absorbed in her own concerns.Archie identifies the murderer with no basis other than a gut feeling. There is no physical evidence pointing to a guilty party, and Archie's suspect seemingly has an alibi. Upson tries to distract readers from the inherent problems in this situation by revealing the murderer's identity to the reader immediately before Archie leaps to his conclusion.In the first two novels in the series, there seemed to be a mutual attraction between Josephine and Archie. The ghost of Josephine's first love ¿ Archie's best friend ¿ stood between them. In this novel Upson brings back a character from the first book and has Josephine contemplating a lesbian affair. The relationship seems out of place in this book. There is no connection with either the historic or present day crime, and these passages don't advance the plot in any way that I can see. This part of the book includes spoilers for the first book in the series.In at least three instances, Josephine is rebuked by people associated with the historic crime for presuming to base a novel on real people whose lives and motives she didn't understand and who would therefore be misrepresented in her novel. Since the real Josephine Tey did not publish such a novel, the implication is that the fictional Josephine took this criticism to heart and did not publish the book. I found this ironic, as Upson has done the same thing with Tey's life. I wish she had made the same choice as the fictional Josephine.This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
Great read! I enjoyed reading this book very much, and immediately bought the first two in the series after reading it. The interweaving of the story line in the 1930's and the true crime around the turn of the century made the book very interesting. I look forward to reading any future books in this series.
*spoiler alert* An excellent mystery, with well written characters and a pretty engaging storyline. I thought the parts written in Miss Tey's voice were very well done, and clearly different enough from the rest of the text to preserve the feeling of a a story-within-a-story. I've two slight criticisms - What I don't quite understand is why the author gave away the murderer midway through the story so blatantly - it made the remainder of the novel a bit anti-climatic. Secondily, this is the first of this series that I've read, which does color my view a bit, but too many of the characters popped into the book with no introduction. While I don't usually start series mid-way through, when I have in the past, I haven't had as jarring a feeling. Likewise, the secondary storyline of Miss Tey's personal life (and very personal it was) seemed more of a distraction to me as I was rather intent on pursuing the main story (rather than tying up ends from a previous book - I assume the first, judging by the summary). I'm curious enough that I may try the other books in the series from the library, and would think that people who've read the first two books would be pleased with this one.
The stigma of illegitimate birth in the early 20th century leads to multiple gruesome murders twenty years later. Based on the true life 'baby killer' trials of the earlier time, the underlying back story wends it way through the current lives of the Motley sisters, their detective cousin and 'Teys' interaction with all of the major characters. Charity fundraising takes on a new depth beyond the normal 'please send money' galas -- preparations begin to uncover events from the time of the 'baby killer' trials -- identity theft (via murder of course), name changes and numerous family secrets. Interwoven in to the 'murder mystery' is the story of Tey's relationships with all the characters. Nicola Upson maintains the detail and historical basis throughout her books and while these are a series, the books can be read as singular works with only a few references to previous events that don't mar the overall murder mystery -- just provide a look into the complexity of the characters.
This was a troubled book for me. Although the premise showed promise, I struggled throughout. And, that's too bad. The basic plot surrounding who actually killed babies, the women who were executed or some one else, could have been a page turner. But things got mired down somehow. Maybe it's because the book switched from one time period to another clumsily, and both periods were not the present time. Add to that an attempt to portray early feminism in an all women's club fell short. The interest never built. And that disappoints. If I had one message to the author, Nicola Upson, it would be trite but maybe effective. "Less is more". In this case it seems that in attempting to add Josephine Tey to the story and relying on newspaper accounts of the period just complicated things.And, unlike In Cold Blood a novel based on a true crime, this book never really came to life.
This is the first book by Nicola Upson I have read, however, it is the 3rd book in the series with Josephine Tey. I thought the premise of the book was very interesting - it is about Tey writing a book about a factual event. I believe that the author tried to include events from Tey's life as well. With regard to the main story, it was not difficult to start at the 3rd in the series, however, the side events must have been a continuation of events in the previous books. I enjoyed the main story of the baby farmers and the murder, and also enjoyed the the Detectives Penrose and Fallowfield especially in the beginning and middle of the book. However, about 2/3 of the way through the book, Penrose is still trying to figure out the murderer when there is a scene in which we find out who the murderer is - but still don't know why. It is not until after the murderer has been arrested, with no evidence, that we hear their confession and find out why the murders have taken place.I didn't really find the side story of Josephine Tey, very interesting. She spent most of the book trying to figure out her love life - which of two people she wanted to be with. While I didn't agree with her decision, it may have been one that she made in real life, so I really cannot fault the author. What I didn't feel fit into the book is the sex scene towards the end of the book. It reads like a cozy mystery and the sex scene is just anomalous in a cozy mystery. While I really enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half was very disappointing to me in many ways.
In "Two for Sorrow", the real-life mystery writer Josephine Tey (nee Elizabeth Mackintosh) travels from her home in Scotland in 1936 to the Cowdray Club in London and quickly becomes wrapped up in a congruence of lies, secrets, and long-held plots of revenge. She is there to work on her latest novel; an account of two women hanged at Holloway Prison in 1903 for the crime of "baby farming". While investigating the details of their lives and crimes, there are two more murders. At the outset these latest deaths don't appear to be related to the past or to each other. Soon, however, soon she finds that they are closely intertwined. It seems as though everything and everyone else is, as well.Although Josephine is a writer of mysteries and, in the book, is a close friend of Detective Inspector Archie Penrose who investigates the murders, she does little sleuthing herself and seems almost unaffected by all the turmoil the subject of her book has caused. She is merely there to take notes which seems odd for a writer so closely associated with writing mysteries in real life. It would appear as though everyone at the Cowdray Club has some sort of tie to Holloway and to each other - this many coincidences is distracting and, to some extent, unbelievable. The Motley sisters, cousins to Archie, work on costumes for a nearby theater, which has put on productions of Josephine's plays and they are involved in a charity event at, where else, the Cowdray Club. The Club is associated with a Nursing School and the administrator there (and manager of the Club) was once a teacher. And one of her students? Josephine. Perhaps if all this interconnectedness (and many more instances) weren't so pervasive the story would be much more engaging. Having said that, there are a few of characters that are well drawn. Perhaps another mystery series revolving solely around Insp. Penrose could be interesting. The Motley sisters, while a bit over the top at times, are entertaining. The non-fictional aspects of the book were informational and interesting.The lengthy seduction scene (with Marta, a character who appears unexpectedly) isn't germane to the plot and its inclusion and aftermath are another mystery. After a cursory internet search, there is little to be found to support the assumption that the real Josephine Tey was a lesbian. True, she never married and lived alone, but her private life was just that, private, and little is known about her non-literary life. It is a fact that she did have one true love - a young man killed in the war. That, however, does not jibe with the intentions of the author and one wonders if she is portrayed accurately in that respect. This is the third book in the series and the next, if one is planned, may not be so chaotic and more compelling (the first two seem to have been well received). This is decidedly a female-centric book and that in itself adds a different aspect. While the 'didn't-see-that-coming' twist regarding the culprit was intriguing, the complicated plot lines made it seem lost in the shuffle. There is an extremely provocative story to be told about the "baby farmers" (women who kill babies they were paid to send out for adoption), but this one just misses the mark.
Nicola Upson is a great storyteller. But I have to wonder if she has a lesbian agenda? I was enjoying the story yet getting more disgusted as the Marta/ Josephine line continued. I would have liked to have been warned that there was a lesbian theme!
A good story, keeps you guessing until the very end. Surprise ending for sure
They were the most horrific crimes of a new century: the murders of newborn innocents for which two British women were hanged at Holloway Prison in 1903. Decades later, mystery writer Josephine Tey has decided to write a novel based on Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, the notorious, "Finchley baby farmers," unaware that her research will entangle her in the desperate hunt for a modern-day killer. A young seamstress-an ex-convict determined to reform-has been found brutally slain in the studio of Tey's friends, the Motley sisters, amid preparations for a star-studded charity gala. Despite initial appearances, Inspector Archie Penrose is not convinced this murder is the result of a long-standing domestic feud - and a horrific accident involving a second young woman soon after supports his convictions. Now he and his friend Josephine must unmask a sadistic killer before more blood flows - as the repercussions of unthinkable crimes of the past reach out to destroy those left behind long after justice has been served. In the latest mystery by Nicola Upson, Two for Sorrow, takes the readers into two different story lines. One is the story that Josephine has been researching on the Finchley baby farmers that were hanged in 1903. Found guilty of offering pregnant women alternatives to keeping their babies, they were accused of killing those babies instead of finding viable adoptive parents who were willing to adopt or purchase unwanted babies. The reader takes a journey as Josephine begins to write her book based on a true life mystery based on the facts she gleans from meeting with people who were present at the time the women were hanged. Amelia Sach's believed she was innocent even as she went to the gallows. Now however in the midst of writing this book and researching more information on baby farming, a reformed woman prisoner from Holloway prison is found murdered. What connection does she have with the baby farmers and how far is the killer willing to go to make sure that justice is served in their minds.
This is the most recent of a series of books featuring the mystery writier, Josephine Tey, as a protagonist. Nocola Upson tries to weave elements of what we know about Tey's life, her books, and her life in the theater into new plot lines. The other one I read, "An Expert in Murder" was an OK read so I thought I would try another. This particular one involves a real-life situation where two women were hanged for what the English called "baby farming" - taking newborns, making the mothers believe they are being adopted and then killing them and keeping whatever monies have been paid to them. Upson takes the bones of this true story and has Tey reseaching it for a book, adds a "Miss Pym Disposes" incident and several cases of what I will call "mistaken" or "false" identity and makes a messy stew. I guessed the killer about half way through, but not her true identity. That was sprung on the reader out of the blue, at least it seemed so to me. There is also a messy personal subplot romantic quadrangle with four of the characters: Marta, Lydia, Tey and Archie Penrose. It matters not to me if, in real life, Tey was lesbian or bi-sexual, but this, like the main storyline, is messy and contrived. The one I feel sorry for is Archie who knows the fictional Tey's sexual confusion and need for privacy and solitude and is so very patient. I almost stopped reading three or four times, but got caught up is trying to see if I were correct about the killer's identity and wondering what plot twist Upson would thow at us next but I don't think I will read any more books in this series.
I was very disappointed in this book. The story was slow and plodding. In fact, I skimmed the last 75 pages just to find out "who did it". I will not buy another book by this author.
In the 1930s in London, mystery writer and playwright Josephine Tey is drafting her latest manuscript based on the 1903 state executions by hanging of two midwifes Amelia Sach and Annie Walters convicted of running a baby mill. Tey's former teacher Celia Bannerman was one of the two warders assigned to stay with Sach from the time of her conviction until her execution. Celia assists Tey on her research. Detective Inspector Archie Penrose investigates the brutal murder of a seamstress. His friend Tey, who he wants as his lover, believes her inquiry into the hangings three decades ago is related to the current homicide. Penrose fears an angry killer has just started and Tey and Bannerman are on the list for a de facto execution. The third Tey historical British mystery (see An Expert In Murder and Angel with Two Faces) is a taut psychological thriller with a great whodunit investigation. The excellent story line contains a book within a novel in which Nicola Upson smoothly moves back and forth while employing an insightful historiographical look from a 1930s perspective at 1903. With a late stunning twist enhancing the tale, fans will relish this engaging Depression Era thriller. Harriet Klausner