Monday, October 30, 2017

Nine Lessons - Mystery Review

Nine Lessons (A Josephine Tey Mystery #7) by Nicola Upson (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Called to the peaceful wooded churchyard of St-John's-at-Hampstead, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose faces one of the most audacious and unusual murders of his career. The body of the church's organist is found in an opened grave, together with a photograph of a manor house and a cryptic note. The image leads Archie to Cambridge, where the crisp autumn air has brought with it bustling life to the ancient university and town. Both Josephine Tey and Archie's lover Bridget have recently settled in Cambridge, though both women are not equally happy to see him. One has concealed an important secret from Archie which now threatens to come to light. Meanwhile, the change of seasons has also brought with it a series of vicious attacks against women in town, spreading fear and suspicion through the community.
Soon, another body is revealed, and in the shadow of King's College Chapel, Archie uncovers a connection twenty-five years old which haunted both victims--as well as some of their living companions. As Archie and Josephine each grapple with savage malefactors intent on making their victims pay, they must race to stop another attack in this beautifully written, intricately plotted mystery.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:   I've been a fan of Josephine Tey since I discovered Brat Farrar as a kid.  I love the idea of a mystery author being a real life detective.

My Impression:  I was a little worried going in that starting at book 7 might not be a good idea.  To be honest while it did take me a few pages to sort out the Marta/Josephine/Bridget/Archie situation it really ended up not being a problem at all.  I think I might have felt slightly more connected to all the characters if I'd been following from the beginning but I liked them and felt invested pretty quickly.

The mystery starts out feeling like a very clean police procedural.  Maybe even a little like something Tey herself would have written.  There's a brutal murder which is described with detail but in such a clinical way that I didn't find it unnecessarily gore-y.  While investigating that murder he becomes aware of a series of rapes that are occurring in Cambridge that is terrifying the community.    The mysteries were both compelling and I enjoyed the investigation.  There was one thread that felt a little rushed at the end.  The conclusion worked but I just would have liked it to be more explored and not just a theory.  That said I in no way felt that the mysteries weren't solved.

For a police procedural I was surprised with the personal connections with the characters.  This isn't just about solving a mystery (though that is the main focus) this is about what's happening in the lives of Archie, Marta, and Josephine.   I liked Archie from the very beginning.  He's a good detective but a good man as well.  He's deeply empathetic and while can be confrontational is never unnecessarily so.  He struggles with his relationship with Bridget but is always trying to do right by her.  As well I enjoyed the relationship between Marta and Josephine.  They just felt like real people and I enjoyed both them as individuals and their interaction with each other.   There was even some events that were heartbreaking.  While the personal relationships were a primary plot factor the mystery never fell into the background.  I was very pleased with the balance of the book.

At the end of this book I immediately wanted to go back and read the previous books in the series to learn more about the characters (especially Archie, I have a bit of a soft spot for him) and I know I'll be waiting for the next book.  I'm also feeling to the urge to go pull out my collection of Josephine Tey mysteries and have a binge read so I'm counting this book a success!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes!  I enjoyed this book and would like to get to know the characters a bit more.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy mysteries I think you'd enjoy this one.


  1. I think the cover for this book is pretty fabulous. Also, how awesome that you were able to jump into the series on book 7 and not really have any major difficulties. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

  2. Good that you could slot in. I think a mystery is good but when there is character development and personal connections to them its the best.