A Shilling for Candles

A Shilling for Candles

by Josephine Tey

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Overview

It was a little after seven on a summer morning, and William Potticary
was taking his accustomed way over the short down grass of the cliff-top.
Beyond his elbow, two hundred feet below, lay the Channel, very still and
shining, like a milky opal. All around him hung the bright air, empty as
yet of larks. In all the sunlit world no sound except for the screaming
of some seagulls on the distant beach; no human activity except for the
small lonely figure of Potticary himself, square and dark and
uncompromising. A million dewdrops sparkling on the virgin grass
suggested a world new-come from its Creator's hand. Not to Potticary, of
course. What the dew suggested to Potticary was that the ground fog of
the early hours had not begun to disperse until well after sunrise. His
subconscious noted the fact and tucked it away, while his conscious mind
debated whether, having raised an appetite for breakfast, he should turn
at the Gap and go back to the Coastguard Station, or whether, in view of
the fineness of the morning, he should walk into Westover for the morning
paper, and so hear about the latest murder two hours earlier than he
would otherwise. Of course, what with wireless, the edge was off the
morning paper, as you might say. But it was an objective. War or peace, a
man had to have an objective. You couldn't go into Westover just to look
at the front. And going back to breakfast with the paper under your arm
made you feel fine, somehow. Yes, perhaps he would walk into the town.

The pace of his black, square-toed boots quickened slightly, their
shining surface winking in the sunlight. Proper service, these boots
were. One might have thought that Potticary, having spent his best years
in brushing his boots to order, would have asserted his individuality, or
expressed his personality, or otherwise shaken the dust of a meaningless
discipline off his feet by leaving the dust on his boots. But no,
Potticary, poor fool, brushed his boots for love of it. He probably had a
slave mentality, but had never read enough for it to worry him. As for
expressing one's personality, if you described the symptoms to him he
would, of course, recognize them. But not by name; In the Service they
call that "contrariness."

A seagull flashed suddenly above the cliff-top, and dropped screaming
from sight to join its wheeling comrades below. A dreadful row these
gulls were making. Potticary moved over to the cliff edge to see what
jetsam the tide, now beginning to ebb, had left for them to quarrel over.

The white line of the gently creaming surf was broken by a patch of
verdigris green. A bit of cloth. Baize, or something. Funny it should
stay so bright a color after being in the water so--

Potticary's blue eyes widened suddenly, his body becoming strangely
still. Then the square black boots began to run. _Thud, thud, thud,_
on the thick turf, like a heart beating. The Gap was two hundred yards
away, but Potticary's time would not have disgraced a track performer. He
clattered down the rough steps hewn in the chalk of the Gap, gasping;
indignation welling through his excitement. That was what came of going
into cold water before breakfast! Lunacy, so help him. Spoiling other
people's breakfasts, too. Schaefer's best, except where ribs broken. Not
likely to be ribs broken. Perhaps only a faint after all. Assure the
patient in a loud voice that he is safe. Her arms and legs were as brown
as the sand. That was why he had thought the green thing a piece of
cloth. Lunacy, so help him. Who wanted cold water in the dawn unless they
had to swim for it? He'd had to swim for it in his time. In that Red Sea
port. Taking in a landing party to help the Arabs. Though why anyone
wanted to help the lousy bastards--that was the time to swim. When you
had to. Orange juice and thin toast, too. No stamina. Lunacy, so help
him.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013740617
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/06/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 192,760
File size: 181 KB

About the Author

Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896-1952), best known as Josephine Tey, is one of the most respected and influential authors in the mystery genre and regarded by many one of the best mystery novelists ever. Her novel, The Daughter of Time, was selected by the British Crime Writers’ Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time and The Franchise Affair, starring her most famous character, Inspector Alan Grant, was 11th on the same list of 100 books. She also used the pen name, Gordon Daviot, primarily to publish plays.

Customer Reviews

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A Shilling for Candles (Inspector Alan Grant Series #2) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am writing this not so much to review Josephine Tey¿s A Shilling for Candles, this was her first novel and certainly not her best, but as an elegy or lament, if you will, that with turning the last page of this book, I have now read all the novels of this wonderful author. It began several years ago when my wife gave me The Singing Sands as a Christmas gift. I hadn¿t a clue about the book or its author, whose real name was Elizabeth Mackintosh. I read it during a cross country trip by air. This started a tradition. With each long trip across country I would buy a new Josephine Tey novel for the flight. The Singing Sands was followed by The Franchise Affair, The Daughter of Time, The Man in the Queue, To Love and Be Wise, Miss Pym Disposes, Brat Farrar and finally A Shilling for Candles. I am genuinely saddened at now having read all of her novels. A long and pleasing relationship has come to an end. There is nothing unread to look forward to. At the core of it is her writing. Civil, gentle, witty and wise. And so English. England and Scotland form the backdrop to all of her novels- all up in tweed, sherry, tea, trout fishing on the Clyde, and gentility. Certainly American readers may infer a stereotype of England as having no sharp edges and where most conversations are conducted with ironic good will, but that is the England of Josephine Tey. Especially as embodied in her protagonist Inspector Alan Grant. And so, get thee hence and find a novel by Miss Tey. You will enjoy it. And if you are lucky, savoring each one and always having one to look forward to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not even open this... got a black screen or a word-scrambled screen. No resolution from B&N, so got rid of it.
goatdriver More than 1 year ago
In A Shilling for Candles, like all of her Inspector Grant novels, Tey combines the story-telling skills of police procedural greats such as P.D. James and Colin Dexter with the masterful use of the English language reminiscent of Dickens and Austen. This is a "you can't put it down" book.
ExiledNewYorker More than 1 year ago
The characters are a bit eccentric, but relative to the genre they are reasonably sketched and believable. Tey keeps you engaged with sympathetic and interesting characters and a moving, complex plot. The ending doesn't seem to be pulled from a hat like a magician's rabbit; even if you didn't guess- which I didn't- you look back and say, ahaa. Indeed, I'd mused about the ultimate killer and then dismissed my ideas. I'd certainly recommend it to mystery fans and for those seeking a quick beach read or bit of escapism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you notice all tey s so far on nook have awful problems in format if you can get anything at all. Nook wont do anything but i have had my credit card remove charges e g charged and not received but must do in three months mom
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The discovery of the body of a popular screen actress washed up on a beach on the southern coast of England sparks an investigation headed by Scotland Yard's top detective, Inspector Alan Grant.Christine Clay's death hits the headlines, has a global impact, "society" dusts off its mourning blacks in hope of an invitation to her funeral, and yet what comes out is that almost no-one knew who she really was. A clairvoyant claims to have foretold her death, and her estranged brother seems to have disappeared.This was the second in Josephine Tey's Alan Grant novels. You are probably familiar with other novels such as THE FRANCHISE AFFAIR, and THE DAUGHTER OF TIME.I must confess to being a bit disappointed in the novel. I found the central threads very difficult to focus on and really thought there was rather too much going on. The writing is quite complex, full of little mental pictures because Tey has a graphic style, full of adjectives and adverbs, and the end effect is to slow the reader down. I found myself constantly re-checking what I had just read. In addition the novel felt a bit over populated with characters, and littered with red herrings and dead ends.Sometimes we talk about whether a novel has "stood the test of time", and I think perhaps what I found is that A SHILLING FOR CANDLES was written for an audience a little different to today's.On the back cover of the book is a quote from the Boston Globe: "The unalloyed pleasure of watching a really cultivated mind in action."Maybe that is the clue to the difference: the complexities in this novel come not from the intermingling of threads as in a modern crime fiction novel, but from the language itself. In general it is really a whodunnit rather than a whydunnit, although of course that side is eventually revealed.That doesn't make it any less worth reading, but it does mean it is not an easy read.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josephine Tey is one of my favorite mystery authors--easily top five. This isn't a favorite book among her works though. Sadly, she only wrote eight. The introduction to the latest editions by Robert Barnard name The Daughter of Time, The Franchise Affair and Brat Farrar as the standouts; I'd add Miss Pym Disposes to that list of her best. A Shilling for Candles is only her second book and her two earliest books are indeed imo her weakest, though I like A Shilling for Candles better than her first mystery featuring Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, The Man in the Queue. The strength of most Teys, including this one, isn't in a tidily plotted whodunnit with clues giving you a fair chance at the solution and a particularly clever twist. The introduction points particularly to A Shilling for Candles in that regard as an example, saying that Tey was not interested "in that kind of game." So what are this novel's particular pleasures? Well, her prose for one. Lively, full of wry insights, humor, an apt way with descriptions. Her characters for another, and in this case I definitely thought this cast was more memorable than in her first Grant novel. There is an odious reporter, an eccentric astrologer, egotistical show business people and the delightful Erica Burgoyne, teen detective, who arguably proves better at the business than Inspector Grant. Grant isn't along Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot or even Lord Peter Wimsey lines. He laments that himself at one point that he's "just a hard-working, well-meaning ordinarily intelligent detective." Barnard accuses Tey of anti-Semitism in his introduction, but doesn't cite examples, and I have to wonder if it's he just doesn't get that Grant isn't meant to be a Holmes or Poirot. I don't think we're to take his beliefs as that of the author. He's fallible. It may be that anti-Jewish lines are excised from the later or American editions, or that I have yet to find them in my reread of Tey with 3 more novels to go. Unless I missed it because it's encoded as "Eastern European" in this book. But I find it telling that in the first two books, every time Grant expresses a prejudice and makes assumptions based upon it, he's proven wrong--and the character of Eastern European origin in this book doesn't fit any negative stereotype. It could be I'm giving Tey too much credit for being subtle. Maybe. But I suspect Barnard doesn't give Tey enough credit. I think what I found most poignant in this book though was the portrait of the murder victim we can only get to know through others--film actress Christine Clay. What emerges is a very sympathetic portrait, a vivid one both of her and the prices of celebrity.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second novel of six in Tey¿s Inspector Alan Grant series. A famous actress has taken refuge incognito in a friend¿s beach house. She is discovered to have drowned during her early morning swim. It appears to be an accident but the reader is not surprised when there are suspicious circumstances discovered. Tey is more like Dorothy Sayers than like Agatha Christie in that Tey writes mysteries that are novels rather than puzzles. This story is similar to a ¿police procedural¿ in that we follow the working of the Inspector as he puzzles over this crime and comes to discover that there is more than one crime. But unlike most police procedurals, there are many supporting characters with whom we become concerned and interested in learning about. We also learn a little more about Alan Grant. While this is not my favorite of the Tey novels I¿ve read (those would be The Daughter of Time, another Alan Grant novel, and Miss Pym Disposes, a crime novel) I enjoyed this book, found it a relaxing, fast read and would highly recommend it to those who like Golden Age mysteries.
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The last several weeks have been fallow ones for reading. I have been chewing my way through two big, meaty books (Winter's Tale and War and Human Civilization). Both are excellent, but I haven't been able to summon the motivation to really fly through either of them. I bought the Tey as a break, and gulped it in two days. As usual with Tey, more notable for the path through than for the resolution.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second Alan Grant book I've read and I didn't read them in order, more's the pity for me. An actress, Christine Clay, has taken a cottage near the ocean to hide out for a while. She is joined by a total stranger to her, Robert Tisdall, who was also looking to get away from life for a while. One morning, Christine turns up dead, drowned in the sea, and Inspector Alan Grant from the Yard is called in by the local constables. He has his eye on Tisdall for doing the crime for various reasons, but his case is solidified when Clay's will is read and Tisdall comes into an inheritance. Hmm. But Grant's got a niggling doubt -- and so sets out to investigate anyone who may have had it in for Christine...and finds that there are more than a few people who would have liked to have seen her dead.The characters are entertaining but the book is just average. Perhaps this is because it's only the second book of the series. The mystery is good and solid, and there are a number of suspects and red herrings that are thrown out for the reader's consideration, but some of the plot lines seemed a bit confusing at times. The end, truthfully, I saw coming from a long way out so that was sort of off putting. However, many people really enjoyed this one, so it's one you'll have to try yourself. I'd recommend it to fans of Tey, or to fans of Golden-Age mystery, or to readers of British mystery in general.Overall -- not bad; not one of my favorites by this author but still a fine read.
BookAngel_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my second Tey mystery and I'm SOOO hooked on these books!It's a simple murder mystery - woman found dead on a beach, and she happens to be a famous actress with many potential enemies. But Tey makes it so much more. The beauty of Tey's writing is her subtlety. She does not TELL you that things are so, she SHOWS you. She honors our intelligence by letting us put the pieces together on our own. And by the way, this book has a GREAT female lead character (she stole the show from Inspector Grant).
Eurydice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Adapted by Hitchcock as "Young and Innocent" (1937). By no means Tey's best! (By common consent, The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair vie for that honor; though I prefer Brat Farrar.) (***)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This nook edition unreadable. Not properly formatted or paginated. Very disappointed as I always loved the story. Find another publisher.
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nancydrewccod More than 1 year ago
I don't like there is a double space every two or three lines. Annoying to read in my Nook.