Revenge, murder, and royal pageantry in the fictional adventures of a real-life author.
As visitors to London eagerly await the coronation of George VI and prepare to stand in line overnight for a glimpse of the solemnities, Josephine Tey is more interested in the adaptation of her play Queen of Scots for the BBC. When Josephine attends a read-through at Broadcasting House, she thinks her play may actually work better over the radio. To her disappointment, however, her friend Lydia Beaumont, who had the lead on Broadway, has to settle for a secondary role and yield the lead to the current mistress of Anthony Beresford, the best-known voice of the BBC. Although Beresford's wife, Vivienne, has her own career, she can’t escape either the humiliation of her husband’s infidelities or the notoriety of her dubious past. Evidence that Anthony is planning to run away to Canada with his inamorata pushes Vivienne to confront him in his broadcasting cubicle during the coronation, when thousands and thousands of cheering voices cover up the sound of a single gunshot. Although Vivienne admits to the murder, Josephine’s friend DI Archie Penrose of Scotland Yard is initially sympathetic. So is Josephine, who’s caught in a triangle of her own: she has to share Marta, the woman she loves, with Lydia. In an effort to keep Queen of Scots on track despite her personal issues, Josephine makes a shocking discovery that takes an even stranger twist as the truth about Vivienne’s past and a long-ago death come to light.
Although Upson (The Death of Lucy Kyte, 2014, etc.) keeps her readers anticipating action nearly as long as British subjects wait for the crowning of their king, the complexity of the overlapping relationships and a burst of momentum make her fictionalized heroine’s sixth case a worthy sequel to its predecessors.