A Shilling for Candles - Josephine Tey, Robert Barnard
I wish I hadn't left getting better acquainted with Josephine Tey's writing for quite so long. In this novel, Tey's second, Inspector Alan Grant investigates the murder of a famous actress, whose death by drowning had been predicted by a celebrity clairvoyant. In her characteristically elegant prose, Tey not only delivers an interesting piece of Golden Age crime fiction, she also explores the concept of celebrity. That Tey's observations on this particular issue still seem fresh today is both a testament to the stength of the writing and to the fact that some things never change.

Overall, this was a fun read. Alan Grant is a thoughtful and engaging detective, who makes mistakes and sometimes misjudges people and situations in a very realistic way. The secondary characters are also interesting and well-drawn, particularly the wonderful Erica Burgoyne. The mystery at the centre of the novel is engaging enough, with multiple red herrings and a satisfactory resolution. However, the novel does contain multiple instances of the casual anti-semitism which is a recurrent feature of pre-WWII British crime fiction. It is jarring and unpleasant to a contemporary reader, but something which I can generally cope with in this genre.

My enjoyment of this novel was increased by it being a buddy read with my friend Jemidar, who correctly identifed the culprit very early on. Once Jemidar picked the murderer, all Inspector Grant had to do was work out how the murder was committed. A solid 3-1/2 to 4 star read.