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The man in the queue by Josephine Tey
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The man in the queue (original 1929; edition 1978)

by Josephine Tey

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957279,064 (3.67)134
Member:gennyt
Title:The man in the queue
Authors:Josephine Tey
Info:Harmondsworth Penguin, 1978 (1987 printing). Paperback.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:read 2012, fiction, detective fiction, english fiction, 1920s, London, Scotland

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The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey (1929)

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Warning: This review contains spoilers.

****

It's the last night of the hit West End musical Didn't You Know?, starring the famous Ray Marcable. But a more shocking spectacle occurs before the play even begins: when the queue for the standing room section moves forward to enter the hall, one man falls dead, stabbed in the back. But before Inspector Alan Grant can figure out why anyone would kill this man, he has to figure out who he is in the first place; the dead man has no ID.

This is a somewhat complicated case with lots of dogged lead-pursuing. The reader is privy to some things that Grant is not, giving the story a sort of thriller aspect. I did have one objection, though: the ending comes completely out of left field -- I actually exclaimed "What?!" at the book when the actual killer came in to confess. It was a very Perry Mason sort of reveal, where the criminal decides to spontaneously give themselves up despite apparently being on track to get away with the crime. It is also troublesome that Grant displays casual racism by consistently referring to his suspect as "the Dago" even after the suspect becomes known to him. It is uncalled for.

On a more positive note, I found it interesting that the third-person narrator has a distinct personality, possibly that of Tey herself, as if she were Grant's biographer. For a first book in a series it did a fairly good job of establishing Grant's personality and backstory, without unnecessary chunks of information.

Despite the murder taking place in the queue of a West End show, this isn't really set in the theatre world, like a Ngaio Marsh for instance, so bear that in mind if you're deciding whether to read this book. If you've read other books by Tey and want to read this one, then it is recommended. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 5, 2015 |
Read during Summer 2007

Started out great guns and then just petered out to a less than climatic finale. There were clearly gapping holes in the lead up to the capture of Lamont, the supposed killer, and then they were dealt with via some vauge meanderings, until there was a very dull and boring confession and neat wrap up in three paragraphs. An Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers, it was not. I also found the constant refferal to the unknown (and then known) killer as 'the Levantine' distateful and meaningless. Perhaps a product of its time but it's hard to imagine a successful detective holding on to prejudices about the killer. Since I also didn't like Brat Farrar, perhaps it's time to revist and release my other Teys.
1 vote amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
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). ( )
1 vote 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 |
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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.

Haiku summary

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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