Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Angel With Two Faces: Review
Angel With Two Faces is the second book in Nicola Upson's mystery series starring Josephine Tey. I have found with mysteries (or just plain fiction) that stars real people in fictional circumstances that they are either very, very good or very, very bad. I am happy to say that this series is very, very good. Upson's first mystery, An Expert in Murder, was good. A strong opener to a very promising series. This book builds on that success and the recurring characters are even stronger and more well-defined in this second outing.
This novel finds Josephine Tey and her friend Inspector Archie Penrose headed to Cornwall for a holiday. Tey is more than ready for a vacation after the exhausting and terrible events that surrounded her latest theatrical work in London and Penrose wants to show off his home country--a beautiful estate that belongs to branches of his family. The visit begins in les than pleasant manner--Penrose must arrive earlier than planned to attent the funeral of a family friend--a young estate worker who has died in a riding accident. However, there are many questions surrounding the accident and soon Tey and Penrose find themselves picking their way through secrets and deceptions and finally a witness to a real-life tragedy enacted at the local Minack Theater. Which secrets have led to the tragic circumstances and how will they affect those who remain?
Wow. This book was nearly unputdownable. If my parents hadn't been scheduled to visit today for Christmas Part III, then I would have read it straight through (except for that thing called sleep that I apparently need). Upson has gotten her characters exactly where she wants them. The interactions are near-perfect. The tension and emotions evoked in reading this story were captivating. There were moments that were gasp-out-loud and full of I-never-saw-that-coming. But it all comes together in a heart-rending, spectacular mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. And just when you think that all the secrets have been revealed--she proves you wrong and whips out another. And they all work. The reader is never tempted to shout, "Unfair!" Four stars out of five--only because I want to give her room to be even better in the next installment. Which is out and I will have to get my hands on ASAP.