When an unidentified man is stabbed to death while waiting in line outside a theater, the crime becomes an immediate sensation in London. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is assigned to the case, which at first seems impossible. The people standing closest to the dead man noticed nothing, and the murderer seems to have left no trace behind. However, eventually one witness mentions that he saw the dead man arguing with someone in the queue — someone who afterwards left in a hurry. With the help of this statement, Grant is soon on the trail of the man who argued with the victim. However, the more evidence Grant obtains, the more complicated the case seems to grow.
My experience so far with Josephine Tey has been very hit-or-miss: I was disappointed by The Daughter of Time, I really liked Brat Farrar, and now I find myself underwhelmed by this book. I read in the introduction that Tey didn’t like to use the standard conventions of the mystery genre, and that’s certainly evident in this novel. A lot of the book takes place inside Grant’s head, as he immediately begins to theorize about what sort of man might have committed this crime. Thus, much of the novel is Grant jumping to conclusions and then being proved wrong as more evidence is uncovered — which may be true to life but isn’t a lot of fun to read about. The mystery is also technically not “fair,” as the solution comes out of nowhere with no clues given in advance. So I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, but I think I will try some more Josephine Tey in hopes of finding something better.