Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson
Josephine Tey is in Cambridge, a town gripped by fear and suspicion as a serial rapist stalks the streets, and in the shadow of King’s College Chapel, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose faces some of the most horrific and audacious murders of his career.
The seventh novel in Nicola Upson’s highly praised series featuring Josephine Tey takes the reader on a journey from 1930s Cambridge to the bleak and desolate Suffolk coast – a journey which will ultimately leave Archie’s and Josephine’s lives changed forever.
This novel is the 7th in the series and to be fair to readers of my review. I should state, I am new to the series. That being said it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this novel.
The novel is set in 1930s Cambridge and gives a great insight into the era. I loved how the novel had an old fashioned feel to it. Very Agatha Christie, in its writing style.
The perfect murder mystery case!
The novel opens at the scene of a savage murder. Church organist, Stephen Laxborough is the victim of this violent and unfathomable murder. Detctive Chief Inspector Archie Penorse is summoned to the scene. He begins to gather details and evidence, but the case unnerves him as it is seemingly without motive.
Also in Cambridge for a while is writer/playwright Josephine Tey. She is a lifelong friend of Archie and I was desperate to learn more about their friendship. Josephine is quite the unique character, a woman born way before her time. She is gritty, determined and I really warmed to her. Josephine becomes concerned with a serial rapist in the locality.
A case she is hell-bent on solving……….
The murder case intensifies when Archie discovers a link to a bunch of students from Kings College. He also uncovers more victims, all of which had received threatening notes prior to their death. One clear link is a picture of a building call the priory.
But what is the motive? Is it mere jealousy, of this bunch of academics? Or is it something much more sinister?
“What is this I have done?” – Note
The private lives and secrets of Archie’s and Josephine’s is explored and it is brilliantly done. I found them multi-layered characters, which made them very admirable. When somebody Josephine knows becomes a victim of the rapist. She is angered and wants justice for the victim. When you think of the era, of the 1930s. it is not one that can be recalled, as of progressive in terms of women’s rights. Rape victims were often blamed and shamed and made to feel as though they had contributed towards their own rape!
But this is a case, Josephine will not rest until she solves…..
“The scars on the bodies of these girls will heal. The scars on the mind never will”
Archie’s case becomes tougher with the discovery of more and more victims. Can he solve the case in time to save others on the list? The ending comes with shocking twists in the tale and I think the author has done a brilliant job. The depiction of the era, the twists and the central characters are all brilliantly written.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction! 5*
Nicola Upson was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works and the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England.
Her debut novel, An Expert in Murder, was the first in a series of crime novels whose main character is Josephine Tey – one of the leading authors of Britain’s Golden Age of crime writing.
She lives with her partner in Cambridge and spends much of her time in Cornwall, which was the setting for her second novel, Angel with Two Faces. Two for Sorrow is the third book in the Josephine Tey series, followed by Fear in the Sunlight.
Via Faber: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/nicola-upson/