“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
First published in 1952, and the last of Josephine Tey’s novels to feature Inspector Alan Grant, The Singing Sands (Folio Society, €29.99) finds Grant suffering from a breakdown and taking himself off to the Highlands to recuperate on a fishing holiday. Disembarking from the train in Scotland, Grant realises that a man has died in the compartment next to his. When Grant finds himself in possession of the dead man’s newspaper, upon which has been scrawled some intriguing lines of poetry, his policeman’s mind goes into overdrive. Beloved by crime and mystery writers, Tey is regarded as one of the most brilliantly imaginative of the UK’s ‘Golden Age’ of mystery authors. Delivered in a crisp, formal and lyrical style, this reissue from the Folio Society – which is beautifully illustrated by Mark Smith – showcases Tey’s facility for a plot that is as absorbing as it is incredible (the tale turns on the discovery of a very unusual ‘Atlantis’). The Singing Sands is as good a place as any to rediscover (or discover) one of the great mystery writers, although purists may instead point you to the standalone titles The Franchise Affair (1948) or Brat Farrar (1949), both of which are also reissued by the Folio Society.
This column was first published in the Irish Times.