Josephine Tey is one of those so-called Queens of Crime who flourished in the middle years of the twentieth century. Why this period should have seen such an explosion of talented women writing crime novels I do not know, though I'm sure there are theories to explain it. But you only have to think of Christie, Sayers, Marsh, and my own favourite Margery Allingham , to get the idea. Anyway, Josephine Tey was not in fact called Josephine Tey at all -- her real name was Elizabeth Mackintosh, though she never used this name for publication. She also sometimes wrote as Gordon Daviot, and it was this name she used for her massively successful play, Richard of Bordeaux, in 1932. But she is best remembered now as a crime writer, and her best novels, The Franchise Affair (which Sarah Waters has said was part of her inspiration for The Little Stranger) and the wonderful Daughter of Time, which, if you have not read, you really should. A Shilling for Candles, first published in 1936, begins with the discovery of a body, that of a young and famous film actress, Christine Clay. The chief suspect is a young man, Robin Tisdall, who has spent the past week with Clay in a remote cottage close to the beach where her body is discovered. Various other possibilities present themselves: Clay's husband Edward Champneis ("pronounced Chins"), a wealthy English aristocrat is one, and an American songwriter another. But Inspector Grant puts his money on Tisdall, who manages to escape and go on the run, aided by Erica Burgoyne, the young and sparky daughter of the local Chief Constable. Needless to say the final denouement is a surprise, and some might say not a wholly convincing one. But this hardly spoils the enjoyment, or it didn't spoil mine, anyway.
Generally speaking when you read these classic detective novels you are called upon to suspend all thoughts of what is so hideously called political correctness. So I was rather pleasantly surprised to find the following expostulation in the mouth of Jason Harmer:
"Oh yes, you don't have to say it all again. England's a country of complete tolerance. She makes no difference between races. It doesn't matter to an Englishman what creed you believe in or what the shade of your skin is....Did it ever occur to you, Inspector, that you're the only people who've really kept us out? Kept us in our place. That's your pet expression and that describes it. No mixing. No marrying. Infra dig to marry a Jew if he has less than a hundred thousand. And not so hot then. You're the only country in the world where a Jew is unmistakable. A German Jew looks like a German as often as not, a Russian Jew looks like a Russian. The countries have taken them into themselves. But an English Jew looks like a Jew. And you call it tolerance".
Hmmm. Interesting, don't you think?
It turns out Hitchcock made a film supposedly based on this novel. It was called Young and Innocent and you can, amazingly enough, watch it for free on The Internet Archive, a website I had no idea existed until this morning. However the plot was hacked about so much that it bears little resemblance to the novel. I wonder what Tey thought about that.