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Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
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Man in the Queue (original 1929; edition 1995)

by Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard (Introduction)

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886None10,001 (3.67)112
Member:majkia
Title:Man in the Queue
Authors:Josephine Tey
Other authors:Robert Barnard (Introduction)
Info:Touchstone (1995), Edition: 1st Collier Books Ed, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:To read, Your library, Mystery
Rating:
Tags:mystery, classic

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The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey (1929)

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I've nothing really to say about this except to describe the entire plot which I do not feel like doing and which I will probably forget in about a week anyway. A man is murdered in a queue, but no one knows who he is which makes it hard to determine why he was murdered. Red herrings abound and the resolution is completely whackadoodle but it was pretty entertaining. Apparently, I had the cleaned up version that removed outright slurs but still maintained its racist and classist charm (ex. stabbing is so un-English! Guess we should look for a hot-blooded, swarthy Latin! Or a poor person). ( )
  amy_marie26 | Jan 21, 2014 |
It's like, you know. Okay. ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
I've been on a Josephine Tey kick lately (she's one of the Golden Age writers I came to late). And while I've enjoyed the others I've read, especially _Miss Pym Disposes_, I have to say that this one was difficult. I was put off by the casual racism in the use of the word "Dago" to describe the prime suspect, and even understanding that as part of the historical context didn't keep Inspector Grant's insistence on using it from bothering me a lot. I will note, though, that it's interesting how, once Grant has a name for his man, he stops calling him a Dago and actually empathizes with him. Still, by that point, the damage had been done.

Someone's review of _Miss Pym_ mentioned the reliance on factors like phrenology and breeding (i.e., eugenics) to solve the case...and with that interesting observation in mind, I couldn't help but see the same kind of plot playing out here. _The Man in the Queue_ is rescued, however, by the twist that keeps it from falling in line with that kind of "logic."

Despite all that, though, this is another clever, witty mystery by Tey, with some interesting characterizations and some gorgeous descriptions, such as this one:

"He lingered in the door to watch the flat purple outline of the islands to the west. The stillness was full of the clear, faraway sounds of evening. The air smelt of peat smoke and the sea. The first lights of the village shone daffodil-clear here and there. The sea grew lavender, and the sands became a pale shimmer in the dusk." ( )
1 vote rvhatha | Jun 18, 2013 |
Excellent read. Well paced English mystery. ( )
  alexhunter | May 18, 2013 |
For some reason the only novels by Josephine Tey that I have read previously are [b:The Daughter of Time|77661|The Daughter of Time|Josephine Tey|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1307325271s/77661.jpg|3222080] and [b:The Franchise Affair|243401|The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant)|Josephine Tey|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173064430s/243401.jpg|1620751], both in my long-distant teenage past. I loved the former of these books and liked the latter, but until now I had not felt inspired to seek out Tey's other works.

I'm glad that I finally did, for there's a lot to love about this example of British Golden Age detective fiction. Tey writes beautifully. Her prose is intelligent, lucid and witty and she deals equally well with dialogue and description. The novel has a great sense of style. I particularly love the opening chapter, which is marvellously evocative of time and place. I also love the description of the Scottish Highlands, which Tey renders with a light touch and considerable humour. However the text does demonstrate some weaknesses. For example, a first person narrator appears from time to time: apparently the authorial voice, because it is not otherwise identified. The effect is somewhat jarring, but the irregular appearance of the narrator may simply be the result of Tey's inexperience, as this was her first novel.

Tey's detective, Scotland Yard inspector Alan Grant, lacks the indiosyncrasies of his fictional comptemporaries, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. He can't be immediately visualised from the text. However, it would be wrong to say that Grant is a dull character, for he has considerable charm and intelligence. That said, one of the surprises in this novel is that Grant does not actually solve the crime. The resolution is brought about through something of a deus ex machina, although hints to the resolution are there in the text. I was at first inclined to think this a weakness, but have since decided that, while unusual, it is a strength of Tey's ability to plot. It is the reality, after all. Crimes are solved sometimes through hard work, sometimes through the brilliance of the detective and sometimes through luck. There's room in crime fiction to explore all of these possibilities.

The casual racism of pre-World War II crime fiction is evident in this novel, with a confronting repetition of the term "dago" to describe the suspected criminal. However, the confounding of the detective's assumptions and prejudices in the resolution of the crime makes the use of the term ultimately less offensive than it might otherwise be.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read for fans of Golden Age British crime fiction. Probably a 3-1/2 star read. ( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Josephine Teyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnard, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilsum, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was between seven and eight o'clock on a March evening, and all over London the bars were being drawn back from pit and gallery doors.
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Book description
Inspector Alan Grant searches for the identity of a man killed in the line at a theater and for the identity of the killer — whom no one saw.

Outside a London theatre a throng of people wait expectantly for the last performance of a popular musical. But as the doors open at last, something spoils all thought of entertainment: a man in the queue is found murdered by the deadly thrust of a stiletto...

Set in London, this classic murder mystery introduces Inspector Alan Grant, who is charged with sorting out not only the identity of a victim, but the logistics of the stabbing itself, which occurred in a dense crowd of theater-goers, none of whom saw anything. Grant investigates the murder of a man whose body is found wedged in the line waiting to attend a popular musical. Initially, he seeks out a suspect who fits his own preconception of the kind of man who might have committed the crime. Grant follows the hapless Lamont on a wild chase through London and the Scottish Highlands, nearly precipitates his death by drowning, and arrests him for murder despite an intuitive feeling that the physical evidence is somehow wrong.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684815028, Paperback)

Inspector Alan Grant searches for the identity of a man killed in the line ata theater and for the identity of the killer--whom no one saw.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Inspector Grant of the CID travels deep into the theatrical world in his efforts to build up a picture of the nameless stranger found stabbed to death in the queue outside the theatre.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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