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Saturday, 21 July 2012

‘Fear in the Sunlight’ by Nicola Upson

Narrated by Sandra Duncan.
Published by Whole Story Audio Books.  (Full and Unabridged)
ISBN: 978-1-47120-301-5
11 CD’s 12.5 Hours Playing Time.

In July 1954 following the filming of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, three bodies are found when the elaborate apartment set is dismantled.  News of the killing is brought to London by the American Detective Tom Doyle, who feels that they may be a link between these recent killings to a series of murders 18 years before.  Chief Inspector Archie Penrose recalls the earlier murders in the summer of 1936, when Josephine Tey along with friends, is in the resort of Portmeirion in Wales to celebrate her fortieth birthday, and for a meeting with Alfred Hitchcock to talk about a possible film deal for her book A Shilling for Candles. As Archie Penrose tells the American detective Doyle, the resultant film Young and Innocent, although a success bore as much likeness to Josephine’s book as did the title - Josephine had not been pleased.

The book centres on that summer gathering in 1936.  We meet the party of Hitchcock’s guests - a number of actors, including Josephine’s friend the actress Marta Fox and her partner Lydia, also the Motley sisters who have featured in previous books.  We learn that Hitchcock has some unusual plans to entertain the party, which proves to have unpleasant consequences.

The book is evenly balanced between an absorbing mystery – and the lives of the characters, as although in a short space of time three deaths occur, much of the book explores the characters lives and their relationships with each other - rather amazingly several of them come from Wales. Also, in this the fourth book we learn more of Josephine’s love life on which she has now reached a crossroads.  

Beautifully written, the reader is sharply aware of the pain Archie feels at the loss of Josephine, as this story is written two years after Josephine’s death.  I enjoyed the elements of the conversations that touched on the matters of the day, such as the relationship of the Prince of Wales with the American woman! But it is the slow peeling away of the tangled emotions of the people involved that grips the reader and makes compelling reading.

Sandra Duncan has a remarkable range of voices.  I loved particularly her Archie Penrose, she made him sound as I imagined him, reassuring, strong and interesting, which contrasted so well with Josephine’s rather clipped Scottish accent.  Her narration greatly enhanced my enjoyment.
Lizzie Hayes

Nicola Upson was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works, and the recipient of an Escalator Award from Arts Council England.
Since discovering the work of Golden Age author Josephine Tey/Gordon Daviot, she has developed a passion for the theatre and literature of the period, and an admiration for those who wrote and performed between

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