The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey

Title: The Man in the Queue (Inspector Alan Grant #1)

Author: Josephine Tey

First published on 1 January 1929

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | British Mystery Classics

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Man in the Queue is the first book in Josephine Tey’s Inspector Alan Grant series.

The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey is my second entry for #1929Club reading challenge hosted by Simon and Kaggsy.

As a budding GAD fan, I had heard of Tey’s works but never got to reading one until yesterday. This is my first Tey novel and definitely won’t be the last. I am an obsessive reader. If I like an author’s work, I would read all their books – be it good, bad, worse, meh or ‘eh?’

This was an enjoyable and engrossing read. After a not-so-interesting Continental Op story (Red Harvest), I was looking for a detective fiction that includes lots of sleuthing – sorry Op but you hardly did any sleuthing in your story. I loved Inspector Grant and I am looking forward to reading more of his sleuthing adventures. After Uncle Littlejohn… oops, I mean Inspector Littlejohn, Holmes and Poirot, it is time to add Inspector Alan Grant to my list of favorite detectives.

The story begins with a long queue at a standing-room-only section of the Woffington Theatre. London’s favorite musical comedy of the past two years was finishing its run at the end of the week as the lead actress was moving to America. People wanted to catch one last glimpse of the actress and wouldn’t mind standing for three hours – the entire length of the play.

Suddenly, the line starts to move and the crowd begin to nudge their way forward. A woman tells the man in front of her to move a bit so that she can open her purse. He doesn’t seem to listen to her. His head has sunk down upon his chest. As the crowd moves forward, he sinks to his knees and then some more until he collapses to the ground. Thinking he has fainted, a spectator moves to help but learns the man has a small silver dagger plunged into his back.

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Inspector Grant is assigned the case. But the victim had no identification papers on him. The clothes he wore had no tailor or launderer tags either. Nobody has come forward claiming the body nor has been there a missing person’s report.

Then comes a twist when Inspector Grant receives an envelope addressed to him – and inside the envelope is twenty-five pounds and a letter requesting the victim get a proper cremation.

I love mysteries in which the leading detective on case has a challenge to solve. In this case, Inspector Grant is given a case in which neither the victim’s identity is known nor has any of the witnesses seen the murderer (or even a slight hint of someone who might have harmed the man.)

As the inquest, one of the witnesses (the woman who stood behind the victim) claims there was a foreigner standing between her and the man. When the crowd began to move and the man slumped to the floor, the foreigner was nowhere to be seen.

As the case proceeds, Inspector Grant has a finally made a list of suspects. To err is human – and Inspector Grant makes an oopsie or two – nothing to worry about, though.

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Plenty of red herrings so readers are advised not to play detective. Don’t even try! Leave it to Inspector Grant to solve the case. Speaking of suspects, there is one line of investigation that takes the Inspector to Scotland. I really loved this change in scenario and the twists it brought along.

“I’m not very happy about this case.”

Barker’s jaw dropped just a little. “What’s wrong?” he said. “It’s the clearest case the Yard has had for some time.”

“Yes; on the surface. But if you dig a bit, there seems to be more than meets the eye. “

The final twist is at the end, just when everybody believes the murderer is caught and the case is closed. Oh my goodness! I certainly did not see this coming and to be honest, I was quite shocked at how things changed quickly. I did not expect this development. But, I loved it! It was unexpected and shocking.

The storytelling is simply marvelous. I loved the plot-to-story development and character portrayals. The mystery behind the murder kept me guessing till the end.

Before I end this review, there’s something that caught my attention and I would like to share it with you. Inspector Grant’s breakfast quirk amused me. He eats bacon and eggs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. His landlady, Mrs Field had tried to cure Grant of the bacon-and-eggs habit by providing wonderful breakfasts with recipes cut out from the daily newspaper, and ‘favors’ wrested from the local grocer (and threatening with find another grocer in case he did not comply). I suppose every detective has his own set of quirks – something that makes him stand out from the rest. 🙂

My next pick for the #1929Club is The Murder on the Enriqueta by Molly Thynne.


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10 thoughts on “The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey

    1. 👍👍
      Some of our common blog buddies did not enjoy this book as much as I did. Waiting to see what you think of this one. 😊

  1. A great choice for 1929 – I love Tey’s stories but it’s a long time since I read this particular one, and I did consider a reread. If this is your first Tey, you certainly have treats in store!!

  2. A pity that Josephine Tey never had the opportunity to grow old & write as many books as Agatha Christie. I’m a bit ad that I’ve read all her detective novels. Time for some re-reads, I think.

    1. I find Allingham’s storytelling a bit difficult to follow but I had no issues following Tey’s. Though my first Tey, it felt as if I was familiar with her writing.
      Have you read any of Bellairs works? I am a huge fan of his Inspector Littlejohn series.

    1. Yes. 😊 Agora too has published quite a lot and they also have an advanced reader program where we get a chance to read the reprint before publication.

  3. I thought about reading this one for 1929 Club but haven’t had time. I’ve read two of the other Alan Grant mysteries – A Shilling for Candles and The Daughter of Time – and I do like Josephine Tey’s writing, so I’m sure I’ll still read this book eventually. It sounds like a good one!

    1. I am planning to read the remaining Alan Grant mysteries 😊
      Hope you get to read The Man in the Queue soon. 😊

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