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When a writer wrote the fictional adventures of a legendary writer.
What is the Josephine Tey series about?
As you may know, if you are a mystery buff, Josephine Tey was a real Scottish author who wrote mystery novels. A fictional version of Tey is also the main character in a series of novels by Nicola Upson.
In this series, Josephine Tey is the heroine, a writer, and amateur detective who is helping Detective Inspector Archie Penrose to investigate murder mysteries during the 1930s.
How to read the Josephine Tey Books in Order?
Every book in the Josephine Tey series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- An Expert in Murder – March 1934. Revered mystery writer Josephine Tey is traveling from Scotland to London for the final week of her play Richard of Bordeaux. But joy turns to horror when her arrival coincides with the murder of a young woman she had befriended on the train ride. Detective Inspector Archie Penrose is convinced that the killing is connected to the play and that Tey herself is in danger of becoming a victim of her own success.
- Angel with Two Faces – Exhausted and disillusioned with the world of theater in May 1935, Josephine Tey has traveled to Cornwall to spend the summer with her friends, the Motleys, who have become involved in an amateur production at the nearby Minack Theater. Detective Inspector Archie Penrose has returned to his roots in Cornwall to attend the funeral of a family friend, a young estate worker who died in a tragic riding accident. When the Minack Theater proves to be the stage for a real-life tragedy, Penrose and Tey together must investigate an audacious murder.
- Two for Sorrow – When Josephine Tey sets out to write a novel about the notorious Finchley baby farmers, her research helps to solve the recent sadistic murder of a young seamstress. The girl’s death seems to be the result of a domestic feud, but when a second young woman is involved in a horrific accident, the search begins for a vicious killer who will stop at nothing to keep the past hidden.
- Fear in the Sunlight – Summer, 1936: Josephine Tey joins her friends in the resort village of Portmeirion to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, are there to sign a deal to film Josephine’s novel, A Shilling for Candles, and Alfred Hitchcock has one or two tricks up his sleeve to keep the holiday party entertained—and expose their deepest fears. But things get out of hand when one of Hollywood’s leading actresses is brutally slashed to death in a cemetery near the village.
- The Death of Lucy Kyte – When Josephine Tey inherited a remote Suffolk cottage from her godmother, it came full of secrets. There were the infamous Red Barn murders, committed on the grounds a century before, and still casting a shadow over the village. And there was Lucy Kyte, the mysterious beneficiary of her godmother’s will, who no one in the close-knit village would admit to knowing. As Josephine settles into the strange little house and attempts to make friends with the frightened locals, she knows that there is something dark that has a tight hold on the heart of this small community.
- London Rain – London, 1937. Following the gloomy days of the abdication of King Edward VIII, the entire city is elated to welcome King George. Just one of the many planned festivities for the historic coronation is a BBC radio adaptation of Queen of Scots, and the original playwright, Josephine Tey, has been invited to sit in on rehearsals. Soon, however, Josephine gets wrapped up in another sort of drama. The lead actress has been sleeping with Britain’s most venerable newsman, Anthony Beresford. The sordid affair seems to reach its bloody climax when Beresford is shot to death.
- Nine Lessons – Called to the peaceful wooded churchyard of St-John’s-at-Hampstead, Archie Penrose faces one of the most audacious murders of his career. The body of the church’s organist is found in an opened grave, together with a photograph of a manor house and a cryptic note. The image leads Archie to Cambridge. Josephine Tey and Archie’s lover Bridget Foley have each recently settled in Cambridge, though both women are not equally happy to see him. One has concealed an important secret from Archie which now threatens to come to light. Soon, another body is revealed.
- Sorry for the Dead – In the summer of 1915, the sudden death of a young girl brings grief and notoriety to Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs. Years later, Josephine Tey returns to the same house–now much changed–and remembers the two women with whom she once lodged as a young teacher during the Great War. As past and present collide, with murders decades apart, Josephine is forced to face the possibility that the scandal which threatened to destroy those women’s lives hid a much darker secret.
- The Dead of Winter – December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world-famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins.
- Dear Little Corpses – September 1st, 1939. As the mass evacuation takes place across Britain, thousands of children leave London for the countryside, but when a little girl vanishes without a trace, the reality of separation becomes more urgent and more deadly for those who love her. In the chaos and uncertainty of war, Josephine struggles with the prospect of change. As a cloud of suspicion falls across the small Suffolk village she has come to love, the conflict becomes personal, and events take a dark and sinister turn.
- Shot With Crimson – September 1939, and the worries of war follow Josephine Tey to Hollywood, where a different sort of battle is raging on the set of Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Then a shocking act of violence reawakens the shadows of the past, with consequences on both sides of the Atlantic, and Josephine and DCI Archie Penrose find themselves on a trail leading back to the house that inspired a young Daphne du Maurier – a trail that echoes Rebecca’s timeless themes of obsession, jealousy, and murder.
If you like Josephine Tey, you may also want to check out the Kate Shackleton Series or Jacqueline Winspear’s books. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.This article was last updated on June 10, 2023.