cover image The Secrets of Winter: A Josephine Tey Mystery

The Secrets of Winter: A Josephine Tey Mystery

Nicola Upson. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64385-634-6

Set in 1938, Upson’s outstanding ninth outing for real-life mystery author Josephine Tey (after 2019’s Sorry for the Dead) takes Tey to Cornwall, where benefactor Hilaria St. Aubyn is hosting a fund-raising event at her family’s island castle to aid Jewish refugees from Germany. The guests include celebrity Marlene Dietrich, who has been drawing unwelcome attention from the Nazis for her anti-Nazi views. Hilaria, who has asked Scotland Yard’s Det. Chief Insp. Archie Penrose to watch over Dietrich, says he is welcome to invite Tey, Penrose’s close friend. The island, which is cut off from the mainland when the connecting causeway is flooded, becomes the scene of a murder after someone slits the throat of a guest and places the corpse on a stone seat positioned precariously at the top of a castle tower. A horrific filicide case Penrose handled in 1920, revealed in a prologue, looms over the current murder. Upson makes all of her complex characters’ motivations, guilt, and lies understandable while subtly inserting clues into the ingeniously twisty plot. She has few peers, in any era, in imbuing fair-play whodunits with psychological depth. Agent: Gráinne Fox, Fletcher & Co. (Oct.)