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A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey

A Shilling for Candles (1936)

by Josephine Tey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alan Grant Mysteries (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
920299,529 (3.74)134
  1. 20
    The Footsteps at the Lock by Ronald A. Knox (y2pk)
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    Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (KayCliff)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
A wonderfully clever mystery with memorable rounded characters.
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Another fantastic by book Josephine Tey (Miss Elizabeth Mackintosh's nom de plume). Miss Tey wonderfully crafted story and prose will grip you from the very beginning. Highly recommend. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
This is the last of Josephine Tey's that I have read (I started with the wonderful Daughter of Time some 30 years ago); and for me it missed the mark of most of her others too.
It didn't have the brooding atmosphere of The Franchise Affair, or the delicious mystery of Brat Farrar. The sense of place from The Singing Sands wasn't present for me in the balmy south coast cottage. And I struggled to care too much about who killed Christine Clay.
But it had froth and oodles of fun characters (caricatures?) and red herrings aplenty. My only real complaint is that at the end, I still didn't know why the "shilling for candles" was important... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
The body of a movie actress Christine Clay is found on Westover beach. Insp Grant follows the obvious suspect but does not apply the handcuffs and he disappears. There is a hint of desperation as he founders about looking into the goings on of her husband and her brother. An astrologer fortells the death, and madness and the Chief Constables daughter all come into the plot. ( )
  Hanneri | Dec 15, 2015 |
Strange that I can't find a record of reading The Man in the Queue to compare the rating. Nevertheless, I am almost entirely certain, going on my memory which is shaky even though it wasn't that long ago, I'm sure, that I last reread the first of Tey's mysteries, that this is a significant leap forward in terms of the quality of writing. I was reminded how much I love Tey, and that I really mustn't leave it so long between rereads. She may not be quite at Dorothy L Sayer level of genius, but certainly ranks up there with Marsh (I don't care much for Christie, hence the omission.)

Plot-wise, things could be a tad tighter, however that did not detract appreciably from my overall enjoyment. Particularly good was the characterisation: even fairly insignificant characters were effectively fleshed-out, and I particularly like Erica Burgoyne whose youthful eccentric charm was an utter delight.

As an aside, I have just noticed that Hitchcock made a film extremely loosely based upon this novel in 1937 (Young and Innocent UK and The Girl Was Young US). I wonder what Tey thought of it? He completely changed the plot (including whodunnit), made Erica a beautiful young lady rather than a scruffy albeit spunky adolescent, and left out Inspector Grant! I'm sure it's a fine film, but A Shilling for Candles it ain't! ( )
  Vivl | Jun 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Josephine Teyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was a little after seven on a summer morning, and William Potticary was taking his accustomed way over the short down grass of the cliff-top.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
A woman's body is found on the English seacoast, and twisted in her hair is an article screaming murder. For Inspector Alan Grant, the case becomes a nightmare, as too many clues and too many motives arise.

The unusual title comes from a still more unusual clause in the last will and testament of superstar actress Christine Clay — an enigmatic legacy to her estranged brother. Clay worked her way up from nothing, with a mother who spoiled her brother rotten while having all kinds of excuses why Christine couldn't have proper schooling. Christine managed to escape to the life of the stage; her rise was so rapid that when she married a wealthy man with a title, she was considered to have made a catch, but within a couple of years he was thought of as 'Christine Clay's husband'. Now she has been found drowned at the lonely seaside place she was visiting incognito, and a youngster who seems like a stereotypical victim of circumstances is on the run, suspected of her murder for what seems like an inadequate motive. And given the brilliance of Christine Clay's shining star, why was she alone on holiday, with neither a court of hangers-on nor her husband?

Robert Tisdall seems the logical suspect in actress Christine Clay's murder because he had much to gain from her death. Terrified by the prospect of arrest and aware that proving his innocence would be virtually impossible, Tisdall disappears. The suspect is absolved by the determined investigative work of the local chief constable's daughter, Erica Burgoyne, who finds Tisdall's missing overcoat and proves that the button entangled in the victim's hair did not belong to him.


A girl's body in a green bathing-dress washed up early one summer morning and left high and dry by the ebbing tide — apparently just another accident to a foolish bather. But the strange girl turns out to be no ordinary holiday-maker after all and the results of her death reach over the world, nor was it quite as accidental as it seemed. A clause in the deceased's will —"to my brother a shilling for candles" — gives the book its title and the police one of their clues in a thrilling manhunt.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684842386, Paperback)

A woman's body is found on the English seacoast, and twisted in her hair is an article screaming murder. For Inspector Alan Grant, the case becomes a nightmare, as too many clues and too many motives arise.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:29 -0400)

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The drowned body of a famous actress is found on a beach near the cottage where she had been staying incognito with a young man.

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