ANGEL WITH TWO FACES

Written by Nicola Upson

Review written by Russell James

Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.


ANGEL WITH TWO FACES
Faber & Faber
RRP: £7.99
Released: 28th January 2010
Pbk

In the world of cosies it’s surprising how uncosy life can be.  Nicola Upson won’t thank me for calling this a cosy but it’s a Cornish mystery, set in 1935, in which family secrets are unearthed by a Scotland Yard inspector returned on holiday.  His semi-platonic lady friend (no surprise to readers of the first in this series) is the real-life crime writer Josephine Tey.  In truth, she brings little to the story: she doesn’t do a Miss Marple, she provides no sex interest (well, would she?) and she’s party to one excruciating moment when near-neighbour Daphne du Maurier is dragged in. 

That apart, we have an entertaining, if eventually over-egged, mystery in which interlinked members of both the actual and the extended family, isolated in their village and manorial estate, behave as a novelist might expect they would.  What really happened in that two-page preface – did the horseman kill himself, fall victim to an accident – or was he pushed?  His twin sister looks after their much younger sister, fourteen, pretty and very fey.  Their parents died in a fire.  And as we’re not surprised to learn, practically everyone has a secret.  The friendly local witch advises the inspector not to meddle ...  




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