Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Singing Sands

1952, 1985 Penguin edition
Josephine Tey
The Singing Sands
No American price listed, purchase price 99 cents
Worn paperback

While this book has potential, it seems as if Tey wants to deliberately frustrate the reader.  Alan Grant from Daughter of Time travels to the Highlands to see his favourite cousin Laura, but a fellow passenger dies on the train North.  Although Grant is on vacation, recovering from stress and claustrophobia, it's more like a busman's holiday, as he investigates the mysterious death.

Frustrations, in roughly chronological order:
1.  Grant is going to spend his time fishing, but he keeps getting distracted.
2.  He goes to get clues in the Hebrides, but it's a dead end.
3.  Except that that side trip cures his stress and claustrophobia for good, so they have no further impact on the story.
4.  Laura's butch nephew has to present a bouquet to a viscountess, and of course we see nothing of this since Grant is off on his side trip.
5.  The viscountess is a potential love interest for either Grant or this book's young American, so of course neither of them gets involved with her.
6.  The killer confesses in a letter since he's planning suicide.

This novel was published posthumously, but I don't think that excuses the cavalier way Tey treats the reader.

I've now reviewed 300 works, these last hundred covering 35 years.  After Lost Princess of Oz, the stats were:

1 F
3 F+s
2 D-s
4 D's
8 D+s
8 C-s
15 C's
37 C+s
53 B-s
43 B's
21 B+s
5 A-s

No new F's, F+s, or D-s.  But there's another D, another D+, three more C-s, and two more C's, so the ranks of the mediocre have broadened a bit.  C+s have increased to 48, B-s to 92, which may mean I'm too soft on some books, or too hard on others.  (Or maybe I own a lot of "pretty good" books.)  There are 76 B's and 30 B+s.  And only one new A-.

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