Josephine Tey, nee Elizabeth Mackintosh (1896-1952), is a well known writer of eight mysteries and plays. In this story, Upson uses Teys most popular play Richard of Bordeaux as the storys central motivator. Tey, down to London from her home in Inverness for the closing week of Bordeaux, finds herself drawn into two extraordinarily odd theater related murders. Although Josephines close and possibly romantic friend Detective Inspector Archie Penrose initiates the storys principle action, Josephine plays her part by helping to work out the extent to which past events have led to present crimes.
Since author Upson herself has worked in the theater, it is no surprise that she credibly writes about the world of the 1930s West End theaters. Her characters are personalities both on and behind the stage, for example two real life celebrity theater designers, the Motley sisters, and the fans for whom theater was their most important form of entertainment. The horrors of World War I, even fifteen plus years later, still insert themselves into British lives. In particular, Upson details the lingering effects of the little recognized work of the WWI tunnelers. Anxieties about the talk of Nazi rallies and fears that another storm is gathering add more pressures. The story also touches on the lives of women pregnant out of wedlock who were forced to become outcasts.
An "Authors Note" is included.