The Death of Lucy Kyte
A Josephine Tey Mystery by Nicola Upson
Review: Josephine Tey — a real mystery writer, who published books from the 1930s through the 1950s, but an amateur sleuth in this series — has inherited the Red Barn Cottage in a remote part of the village from her godmother, Hester Larkspur, a one-time famous actress and her mother's closest friend. Josephine had not seen nor heard from her since her mother's death when Josephine was a child. The will has two codicils: one requiring Josephine to sort out all of Hester's papers and possessions and evaluate what they are worth and to whom; and second to let someone named Lucy Kyte take what she needs from the cottage that will bring her peace. The lawyer has no idea who Lucy Kyte is or where she could be found. If Josephine cannot fulfill Hester's wishes, then the cottage must be destroyed as is with everything in it, in The Death of Lucy Kyle, the fifth mystery in this series by Nicola Upson.
The cottage had a bit of history to it, being the scene of a murder in 1827. A man was accused, tried, convicted and hanged for the murder of a young woman, Maria Martin. After Josephine arrives, she tries to be friendly with some of the locals, but they still seem to be unforgiving and fearful about the Red Barn murder, which happened over a century ago. Plus, no one would will admit to knowing anything about Lucy Kyle. The cottage itself is in total disarray. While sorting through papers, clothing, costumes, scenery and other memorabilia from plays Hester had been in, she finds an old diary describing the murder of Maria. As she begins reading it she feels like strange things are happening around her, as if she was going from an interesting country mystery to an unnerving place of terror. She also senses there is something dark and sinister about the cottage. Is there a ghost in the cottage, or is there something very much alive that she needs to be aware of? Is it superstition or a real threat that the locals feel, and that she now feels? And just who is Lucy Kyte and why does everyone seem so afraid of her?
The Death of Lucy Kyle is a very intriguing, very suspenseful mystery, yet one infused with sense of poignancy. The narrative can be a little verbose, especially in the descriptions of the settings. But it is so well crafted that it adds atmosphere and depth to the story instead of merely filling up space. The backstory murder mystery is based on a true crime, but its connection to the present is fictional. All very well done and most enjoyable.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Death of Lucy Kyte.
Acknowledgment: Bourbon Street Books provided a copy of The Death of Lucy Kyte for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Death of Lucy Kyte: England
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The Death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson — A Josephine Tey Mystery
Publisher: Bourbon Street Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 2014
List Price: $15.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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