The Singing Sands (1952) - Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
It was six o'clock of a March morning, and still dark. The long train came sidling through the scattered lights of the yard, clicking gently over the points.
Inspector Alan Grant is on holiday. He's had to take a personal holiday because of his mental health condition. He's had a nervous break, I suppose. Suddenly, he's weighed down by fear and anxiety, and shame. He doesn't want everyone to know what his mind is doing to him. Little things that he's always taken for granted now are tormenting him: riding in a train, sleeping in a sleeper car, riding in a car, riding in a plane. He's become claustrophobic.
Well, at least he had managed not to open the door last night. But the triumph had been dearly bought. He was drained and empty, a walking nothingness. "Don't fight it," the doctor had said. "If you want to be in the open, go into the open." But to have opened the door last night would have meant a defeat so mortal that he felt there would be no recovery. It would have been an unconditional surrender to the forces of Unreason. So he had lain and sweated. And the door had stayed closed. (4)
The morning after his sleepless night, Grant discovers a dead body. "Number B Seven" is found dead in his sleeper. Grant, who is not on duty, gets a very good look at him, and he accidentally picks up the dead man's newspaper. He takes it with him by chance. Later, when he's arrived at his cousin's house, I believe, he realizes what he did. He notices for the first time that the paper had been written on. It contains a few lines of poetry. Grant isn't sure if the man was writing an original poem, or, if he was writing down someone else's poem. But either way, those lines and that handwriting make an impact on him. He can't stop thinking about "Number B Seven." Even though he's supposed to be on vacation, resting and relaxing, and FISHING.
As you have probably guessed, Grant is not going to do much relaxing on his vacation. Oh. He does try. But he keeps thinking about this case. A case that others at Scotland Yard have already closed. They've identified the body and the cause of death. End of story. But it's not enough for Grant. He thinks there is more to the story...and since this is his story, his FINAL story, I might add...he's right!
I liked this one. I am not sure I loved it. But I liked spending time with Grant.
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