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To Love and Be Wise

To Love and Be Wise

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To Love and Be Wise

4.5/5 (36 ratings)
263 pages
4 hours
Dec 25, 2012


A witty and sophisticated mystery featuring bestselling author Josephine Tey’s popular Inspector Alan Grant, a beloved character created by a woman considered to be one of the greatest mystery writers of all time.

Literary sherry parties were not Alan Grant's cup of tea. But when the Scotland Yard Inspector arrived to pick up actress Marta Hallard for dinner, he was struck by the handsome young American photographer, Leslie Searle. Author Lavinia Fitch was sure her guest "must have been something very wicked in ancient Greece," and the art colony at Salcott St. Mary would have agreed. Yet Grant heard nothing more of Searle until the news of his disappearance. Had Searle drowned by accident or could he have been murdered by one of his young women admirers? Was it a possible case of suicide or had the photographer simply vanished for reasons of his own?
Dec 25, 2012

About the author

Josephine Tey began writing full-time after the successful publication of her first novel, The Man in the Queue (1929), which introduced Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard. She died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.

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Top quotes

  • Lavinia picked up the chewed pencil from the desk and doodled with it on the blotter. Liz noticed that she was making figures-of-eight. Lavinia must be very troubled indeed. When she was happy she made herring-bones.

  • Priority,” Grant said. And gave his credentials.“Oh,” said the voice, disappointed but game. “Oh, well, I’ll see what I can do.”“On the contrary,” Grant said, “I’ll see what you can do,” and hung up.

  • The eyes still had meaning and purpose.

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To Love and Be Wise - Josephine Tey


Chapter 1

Grant paused with his foot on the lowest step, and listened to the shrieking from the floor above. As well as the shrieks there was a dull continuous roar; an elemental sound, like a forest fire or a river in spate. As his reluctant legs bore him upwards he arrived at the inevitable deduction: the party was being a success.

He was not going to the party. Literary sherry parties, even distinguished ones, were not Grant’s cup of tea. He was going to collect Marta Hallard and take her out to dinner. Policemen, it is true, do not normally take out to dinner leading actresses who gravitate between the Haymarket and the Old Vic; not even when the policemen are Detective-Inspectors at Scotland Yard. There were three reasons for his privileged position, and Grant was aware of all three. In the first place he was a presentable escort, in the second place he could afford to dine at Laurent’s, and in the third place Marta Hallard did not find it easy to obtain escort. For all her standing, and her chic, men were a little afraid of Marta. So when Grant, a mere Detective-Sergeant then, appeared in her life over a matter of stolen jewellery, she had seen to it that he did not entirely fade out of it again. And Grant had been glad to stay. If he was useful to Marta as a cavalier when she needed one, she was even more useful to him as a window on the world. The more windows on the world a policeman has the better he is likely to be at his job, and Marta was Grant’s leper’s squint on the theatre.

The roar of the party’s success came flooding out through the open doors on to the landing, and Grant paused to look at the yelling crowd asparagus-packed into the long Georgian room and to wonder how he was going to pry Marta out of it.

Just inside the door, baffled apparently by the solid wall of talking and drinking humanity, was a young man, looking lost. He still had his hat in his hand, and had therefore just arrived.

In difficulties? Grant said, catching his eye.

I’ve forgotten my megaphone, the young man said.

He said it in a gentle drawl, not bothering to compete with the crowd. The mere difference in pitch made the words more audible than if he had shouted. Grant glanced at him again, approvingly. He was a very good-looking young man indeed, now that he took notice. Too blond to be entirely English. Norwegian, perhaps?

Or American. There was something in the way he said forgotten that was transatlantic.

The early spring afternoon was already blue against the windows and the lamps were lit. Across the haze of cigarette smoke Grant could see Marta at the far end of the room listening to Tullis the playwright telling her about his royalties. He did not have to hear what Tullis was talking about to know that he was talking about his royalties; that is all Tullis ever talked about. Tullis could tell you, off-hand, what the Number Two company of his Supper for Three took on Easter Monday in Blackpool in 1938. Marta had given up even a pretence of listening, and her mouth drooped at the corners. Grant thought that if that D.B.E. did not come along soon Marta would be disappointed into the need for a face-lifting. He decided to stay where he was until he could catch her eye. They were both tall enough to see over the heads of a normal crowd.

With a policeman’s ingrained habit of inspection he let his eye run over the crowd between them, but found nothing of interest. It was the usual collection. The very prosperous firm of Ross and Cromarty were celebrating the publication of Lavinia Fitch’s twenty-first book, and since it was largely due to Lavinia that the firm was prosperous the drinks were plentiful and the guests were distinguished. Distinguished in the sense of being well-dressed and well-known, that is to say. The distinguished in achievement did not celebrate the birth of Maureen’s Lover, nor drink the sherry of Messrs Ross and Cromarty. Even Marta, that inevitable Dame, was here because she was a neighbour of Lavinia’s in the country. And Marta, bless her black-and-white chic and her disgruntled look, was the nearest thing to real distinction in the room.

Unless, of course, this young man whom he did not know brought more than good looks to the party. He wondered what the stranger did for a living. An actor? But an actor would not stand baffled at the edge of a crowd. And there was something in the implied comment of his remark about the megaphone, in the detachment with which he was watching the scene, that divorced him from his surroundings. Was it possible, Grant wondered, that those cheekbones were being wasted in a stockbroker’s office? Or was it perhaps that the soft light of Messrs Ross and Cromarty’s expensive lamps flattered that nice straight nose and the straight blond hair and that the young man was less beautiful in the daylight?

Perhaps you can tell me, said the young man, still not raising his voice in emulation, which is Miss Lavinia Fitch?

Lavinia was the sandy little woman by the middle window. She had bought herself a fashionable hat for the occasion, but had done nothing to accommodate it; so that the hat perched on her bird’s-nest of ginger hair as if it had dropped there from an upper window as she walked along the street. She was wearing her normal expression of pleased bewilderment and no make-up.

Grant pointed her out to the young man.

Stranger in town? he said, borrowing a phrase from all good Westerns. The polite formality of Miss Lavinia Fitch could have come only from the U.S.A.

I’m really looking for Miss Fitch’s nephew. I looked him up in the book and he isn’t there, but I hoped he’d be here. Do you happen to know him, Mr.—?


Mr. Grant?

I know him by sight, but he isn’t here. Walter Whitmore, you mean?

Yes. Whitmore. I don’t know him at all, but I want very much to meet him because we have—had, I mean—a great friend in common. I was sure he’d be here. You’re quite sure he isn’t? After all, it’s quite a party.

He isn’t in this room; I know that, because Whitmore is as tall as I am. But he may still be around somewhere. Look, you had better come and meet Miss Fitch. I suppose we can get through the barricade if we have the determination.

You lean and I’ll squirm, said the young man, referring to their respective build. This is very kind of you, Mr. Grant, he said as they came up for air halfway, wedged tightly together between the hedged elbows and shoulders of their fellows; and he laughed up at the helpless Grant. And Grant was suddenly disconcerted. So disconcerted that he turned immediately and continued his struggle through the jungle to the clearing at the middle window where Lavinia Fitch was standing.

Miss Fitch, he said, here is a young man who wants to meet you. He is trying to get in touch with your nephew.

With Walter? said Lavinia, her peaked little face losing its muzzy expression of general benevolence and sharpening to real interest.

My name is Searle, Miss Fitch. I’m over from the States on holiday and I wanted to meet Walter because Cooney Wiggin was a friend of mine too.

"Cooney! You are a friend of Cooney’s? Oh, Walter will be delighted, my dear, simply delighted. Oh, what a nice surprise in the middle of this—I mean, so unexpected. Walter will be pleased. Searle, did you say?"

Yes. Leslie Searle. I couldn’t find Walter in the book—

No, he has just a pied-à-terre in town. He lives down at Salcott St. Mary like the rest of us. Where he has the farm, you know. The farm he broadcasts about. At least it’s my farm but he runs it and talks about it and—. He’s broadcasting this afternoon, that is why he isn’t coming to the party. But you must come down and stay. Come down this weekend. Come back with us this afternoon.

But you don’t know if Walter—

You don’t have any engagements for the weekend, do you?

No. No, I haven’t. But—

Well, then. Walter is going straight back from the studio, but you can come with Liz and me in our car and we’ll surprise him. Liz! Liz, dear, where are you? Where are you staying, Mr. Searle?

I’m at the Westmorland.

"Well, what could be handier. Liz! Where is Liz?"

Here, Aunt Lavinia.

Liz, dear, this is Leslie Searle, who is coming back with us for the weekend. He wants to meet Walter because they were both friends of Cooney’s. And this is Friday, and we are all going to be at Salcott over the weekend recovering from this—being nice and quiet and peaceful, so what could be more appropriate. So, Liz dear, you take him round to the Westmorland and help him pack and then come back for me, will you? By that time this—the party will surely be over, and you can pick me up and we’ll go back to Salcott together and surprise Walter.

Grant saw the interest in the young man’s face as he looked at Liz Garrowby, and wondered a little. Liz was a small plain girl with a sallow face. True, she had remarkable eyes; speed-well blue and surprising; and she had the kind of face a man might want to live with; she was a nice girl, Liz. But she was not the type of girl at whom young men look with instant attention. Perhaps it was just that Searle had heard rumors of her engagement, and was identifying her as Walter Whitmore’s fiancée.

He lost interest in the Fitch ménage as he saw that Marta had spotted him. He indicated that he would meet her at the door, and plunged once more into the suffocating depths. Marta, being the more ruthless of the two, did the double distance in half the time and was waiting for him in the doorway.

Who is the beautiful young man? she asked, looking backwards as they moved to the stairs.

He came looking for Walter Whitmore. He says he’s a friend of Cooney Wiggin.

Says? repeated Marta, being caustic not about the young man but about Grant.

The police mind, Grant said apologetically.

And who is Cooney Wiggin, anyhow?

Cooney was one of the best-known press photographers in the States. He was killed while photographing one of those Balkan flare-ups a year or two ago.

You know everything, don’t you.

It was on the tip of Grant’s tongue to say: Anyone but an actress would have known that, but he liked Marta. Instead he said: He is going down to Salcott for the weekend, I understand.

The beautiful young man? Well, well. I hope Lavinia knows what she is doing.

What is wrong with having him down?

I don’t know, but it seems to me to be taking risks with their luck.


Everything has worked out the way they wanted it to, hasn’t it? Walter saved from Marguerite Merriam and settling down to marry Liz; all family together in the old homestead and too cosy for words. No time to go introducing disconcertingly beautiful young men into the ménage, it seems to me.

Disconcerting, murmured Grant, wondering again what had disconcerted him about Searle. Mere good looks could not have been responsible. Policemen are not impressed by good looks.

I wager that Emma takes one look at him and gets him out of the house directly after breakfast on Monday morning, Marta said. Her darling Liz is going to marry Walter, and nothing is going to stop that if Emma has anything to do with it.

Liz Garrowby doesn’t look very impressionable to me. I don’t see why Mrs. Garrowby should worry.

Don’t you indeed. That boy was making an impression on me in thirty seconds flat and a range of twenty yards, and I’m considered practically incombustible. Besides, I never believed that Liz really fell in love with that stick. She just wanted to bind up his broken heart.

Was it badly broken?

Considerably shaken, I should say. Naturally.

Did you ever act with Marguerite Merriam?

"Oh, yes. More than once. We were together for quite a lengthy run in Walk in Darkness. There’s a taxi coming."

"Taxi! What did you think of her?"

Marguerite? Oh, she was mad, of course.

How mad?

Ten tenths.

In what way?

You mean how did it take her? Oh, a complete indifference to everything but the thing she wanted at the moment.

That isn’t madness; that is merely the criminal mind at its simplest.

Well, you ought to know, my dear. Perhaps she was a criminal manqué. What is quite certain is that she was as mad as a hatter and I wouldn’t wish even Walter Whitmore a fate like being married to her.

Why do you dislike the British Public’s bright boy so much?

"My dear, I hate the way he yearns. It was bad enough when he was yearning over the thyme on an Aegean hillside with the bullets zipping past his ears—he never failed to let us hear the bullets: I always suspected that he did it by cracking a whip—"

Marta, you shock me.

"I don’t, my dear; not one little bit. You know as well as I do. When we were all being shot at, Walter took care that he was safe in a nice fuggy office fifty feet underground. Then when it was once more unique to be in danger, up comes Walter from his little safe office and sits himself on a thymey hillside with a microphone and a whip to make bullet noises with."

I see that I shall have to bail you out, one of these days.


No; criminal libel.

Do you need bail for that? I thought it was one of those nice gentlemanly things that you are just summonsed for.

Grant thought how independable Marta’s ignorances were.

It might still be homicide, though, Marta said, in the cooing, considering voice that was her trade-mark on the stage. I could just stand the thyme and the bullets, but now that he has taken a ninety-nine years lease of the spring corn, and the woodpeckers, and things, he amounts to a public menace.

Why do you listen to him?

"Well, there’s a dreadful fascination about it, you know. One thinks: Well, that’s the absolute sky-limit of awfulness, than which nothing could be worse. And so next week you listen to see if it really can be worse. It’s a snare. It’s so awful that you can’t even switch off. You wait fascinated for the next piece of awfulness, and the next. And you are still there when he signs off."

It couldn’t be, could it, Marta, that this is mere professional jealousy?

"Are you suggesting that the creature is a professional?" asked Marta, dropping her voice a perfect fifth, so that it quivered with the reflection of repertory years, and provincial digs, and Sunday trains, and dreary auditions in cold dark theatres.

No, I’m suggesting that he is an actor. A quite natural and unconscious actor, who has made himself a household word in a few years without doing any noticeable work to that end. I could forgive you for not liking that. What did Marguerite find so wonderful about him?

I can tell you that. His devotion. Marguerite liked picking the wings off flies. Walter would let her take him to pieces and then come back for more.

There was one time that he didn’t come back.


What was the final row about, do you know?

I don’t think there was one. I think he just told her he was through. At least that is what he said at the inquest. Did you read the obituaries, by the way?

I suppose I must have at the time. I don’t remember them individually.

If she had lived another ten years she would have got a tiny par in among the ‘ads’ on the back page. As it was she got better notices than Duse. ‘A flame of genius has gone out and the world is the poorer.’ ‘She had the lightness of a blown leaf and the grace of a willow in the wind.’ That sort of thing. One was surprised that there were no black edges in the Press. The mourning was practically of national dimensions.

It’s a far cry from that to Liz Garrowby.

Dear, nice Liz. If Marguerite Merriam was too bad even for Walter Whitmore, then Liz is too good for him. Much too good for him. I should be delighted if the beautiful young man took her from under his nose.

Somehow I can’t see your ‘beautiful young man’ in the role of husband, whereas Walter will make a very good one.

My good man, Walter will broadcast about it. All about their children, and the shelves he has put up in the pantry, and how the little woman’s bulbs are coming along, and the frost patterns on the nursery window. She’d be much safer with—what did you say his name was?

Searle. Leslie Searle. Absentmindedly he watched the pale yellow neon signature of Laurent’s coming nearer. I don’t think safe is the adjective I would apply to Searle, somehow, he said reflectively; and from that moment forgot all about Leslie Searle until the day when he was sent down to Salcott St. Mary to search for the young man’s body.

Chapter 2

Daylight! said Liz, coming out on the pavement. Good clean daylight. She sniffed the afternoon air with pleasure. The car is round the corner in the square. Do you know London well, Mr.—Mr. Searle?"

I’ve been in England for holidays quite often, yes. Not often as early in the year as this, though.

You haven’t seen England at all unless you have seen it in the spring.

So I’ve heard.

Did you fly over?

Just from Paris like a good American. Paris is fine in the spring too.

So I’ve heard, she said, returning his phrase and his tone. And then, finding the eye he turned on her intimidating, went on: Are you a journalist? Is that how you knew Cooney Wiggin?

No, I’m in the same line as Cooney was.

Press photography?

Not Press. Just photography. I spent most of the winter on the Coast, doing people.

The Coast?

California. That keeps me on good terms with my bank manager. And the other half of the year I travel and photograph the things I want to photograph.

It sounds a good sort of life, Liz said, as she unlocked the car door and got in.

It’s a very good life.

The car was a two-seater Rolls; a little old-fashioned in shape as Rolls cars, which last for ever, are apt to be. Liz explained it as they drove out of the square into the stream of the late afternoon traffic.

The first thing Aunt Lavinia did when she made money was to buy herself a sable scarf. She had always thought a sable scarf the last word in good dressing. And the second thing she wanted was a Rolls. She got that with her next book. She never wore the scarf at all because she said it was a dreadful nuisance to have something dangling about her all the time, but the Rolls was a great success so we still have it.

What happened to the sable scarf?

She swapped it for a pair of Queen Anne chairs and a lawn-mower.

As they came to rest in front of the hotel she said: They won’t let me wait here. I’ll go over to the parking place and wait for you.

"But aren’t you going to pack

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What people think about To Love and Be Wise

36 ratings / 28 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    Classic set up where nearly every character has a reason to want a certain person dead. Then, that person goes missing. Inspectors Grant and Williams get to work. There are a host of entertaining characters including some veiled gay ones. The solution was a little unbelievable but I'm not complaining since it's so entertaining.
  • (5/5)
    This is the fourth Alan Grant book by Josephine Tey. The Grant series is composed by: The Man in the Queue (as Gordon Daviot); A Shilling for Candles (which VERY lightly inspired Hitchcock's Young and Innocent); To Love and Be Wise; The Daughter of Time; and The Singing Sands. Despite its title, this is not a romance, but mystery novel. Miss Tey is an incredible writer and her books are a joy to read. Also, her sense of humor is captivating. I love Agatha Christie, but Tey has a quality in her writing few authors have. Her descriptions are not tiresome; on the contrary, I enjoy them. I detected the key to the mystery from the beginning, even if I didn't get it completely correct; yet, I still enjoyed reading it very much. I was momentarily disappointed that Grant makes a very quick appearance at the beginning, than only returns in chapter eight. But the story and characters are so well developed and woven, I actually forgot about him. Caveat: if you like filthy language, lots of sex, mental disorder and disturbing characters, you might like to pick another book. And the absence of these is another reason why I so much enjoy Tey’s books. I guess I am old fashioned… There is one paragraph in which Tey defines my idea of the characters of authors who write filth: “One of the most famous alienists in the country had once said to [Grant] that to write a book was to give oneself away. […] There was unconscious betrayal in every line, said the alienist.” They revel in filth, it is part of their inner selves, therefore they write it! But, still, you might like to give Tey a chance, even if you are not old fashioned: you might be surprised. Positively.
  • (5/5)
    To Love and Be Wise by Josephine TeyWritten in 1950, and using a traditional English country house/village setting, this mystery offers ahead-of-its-time psychological prowess in a Detective Inspector Alan Grant missing-person puzzler. Prose, pacing, and plot fit the pieces so perfectly together and bring it to the most logical and unforgettable end that, as a reader, you’re suddenly aware of the masterful storytelling you’ve just encountered.No wonder Josephine Tey’s novels repeatedly make the best all-time mysteries 100s list. To Love and Be Wise, simply put, tops my all-time favorites list.
  • (4/5)
    I loved this author when I was younger, and have recently started re-reading her in conjunction with this re-release of her work. To Love and Be Wise is well-written, intelligent and witty, but I have to say I found it slightly slow-moving. My favorites have always been Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair, so I'm interested to see how those hold up.
  • (4/5)
    DI Alan Grant meets unsettlingly handsome photographer Leslie Searle at a party celebrating the release of Miss Lavinia Fitch's latest bestselling dumb damsel in distress novel. Literary sherry parties, we're told, are not Grant's cup of tea, but he's there to pick up actress Marta Hallard for dinner. After helping the beautiful young man find Lavinia Fitch and introducing them, Grant and Marta make a break for it, and Grant thinks nothing more of Searle until he's called out to the country to investigate the photographer's disappearance.Between the party and DI Grant's arrival at Lavinia Fitch's country estate we are treated to a classic British weekend in the country. We meet the aliens--the artists who have taken up residence in sleepy Salcott St. Mary--and the locals, all of whom are deliciously eccentric or cranky, quirky or curmudgeonly, and all of whom are both drawn to and repulsed from Leslie Searle.So when he comes up missing, well, it could have been anyone who caused his disappearance. DI Grant, always cool and elegant, investigates methodically, but despite his best efforts he is baffled. The answer, when it comes, does so in a flash of insight, and is surprising and a bit shocking.Josephine Tey writes in a spare, lyrical style, perfectly suited to luscious description of everything from the English country side (often somewhat ironically distilled through the consciousness of one or another of her characters) to the disarray that lurks in most human minds. To Love and Be Wise is a great whodunit and a great foray into the the human psyche, why we do what we do and how we understand and interpret it, as well.
  • (4/5)
    One of the less well known Josephine Tey's. A nicely written mystery around the disappearance of a beautiful young man whose arrival has stirred up emotions and jealousies in an artists "colony" in a picturesque English village. Alan Grant is called in to investigate the disappearance. I always enjoy it when authors set their plots in their own milieu and those familiar with "A Daughter of Time" will get some background information on the authors whose books are left unread by Grant's hospital bed.
  • (5/5)
    Love Inspector Grant. This time he has the gut feeling that there is something wrong. This is not murder. This is slight of hand. The lady being cut in half. How apropro as the man really is a lady. Hearkens back to the Louise May Alcott story "Behind a Mask" Sometimes it is easier for a woman to be a man. Interesting that this was written in 1950.
  • (4/5)
    Scotland Yard Detective Alan Grant attends a theatrical party with his friend, famous actress Marta Hallard. He, along with everyone else, notices the beautiful young American Leslie Searle, a photographer whose reputation has been built on his photos of Hollywood stars. Searle is quickly invited into the country home of a family cobbled together by marriage, but an adventure on the river leaves no sign of the guest, and Grant is sent to find out if Searle has accidentally drowned, been murdered or has left the family on his own.The mystery of this one was okay and I didn't figure out whodunnit, but the best part is the cast of characters. A dull radio announcer, a weaselly petty criminal, a successful novelist who is inappropriately angry, a sidekick who is just as astute as Grant. It's not my favorite Tey but it's still pretty good.
  • (5/5)
    I first read this many years ago; now it's hard to hold my copy without the binding paste cracking even more. I'm at a loss to know what to say next: i can't say the reason I like the story so much without giving the mystery away. Let me just add that I'd like to know what happens when the suspects find out, as I suppose they will, the solution to the mystery.
  • (4/5)
    Part of the Inspector Grant series, but it stands alone. Grant investigates the disappearance of a very charming, very troubling man from a quiet English town. Much like Barbara Pym (a contemporary), Tey has a deft but light touch at revealing the inner workings of social circles. There are lots of juicy tidbits on gender, class, and "passing" tucked away in this book.
  • (4/5)
    Josephine Tey continues to be about the only "Golden Age" mystery writer that I care for (although I have begun making inroads on Dorothy L. Sayers), and To Love and Be Wise continues my admiration of her writing. The cast of characters sparkles. The celebrities are all eccentric in their own little ways. Some of them make you laugh, some of them make you shake your head, and some just make you want to slap them. The excellent working relationship of Grant and the trusty Detective Sergeant Williams is further explained. And that disappearance of Leslie Searle is truly puzzling-- although Tey plants a vital clue to its solution at the very beginning of the story.More than anything else-- especially with Williams being pulled away to conclude a case in London-- the pace is slow and deliberate, as though Grant is taking a leisurely stroll through the suspect pool and trying the noose on each of them for size. And as he's sizing them up, the reader is allowed to do much the same. I found To Love and Be Wise quite refreshing. No electronics to fuss with. No serial killers to be in fear of. Just a very real puzzle: what on earth really happened to Leslie Searle? And... why didn't I pay more attention to that clue at the very beginning of the book? At the rate I'm going, I may actually become a fan of these classic mysteries!
  • (5/5)
    This is a strange book, The person who is done in takes 80 pages to do so. It takes another 80 pages for the river into which he has fallen or been pushed gives up his shoe, It turns out that he is a she; in a wildly clever bit of plotting Inspector Grant chases her down to a London flat where all is discovered. I didn't see the usual trick where we are let in on the plot.Brilliantly written novel about an English village and the crazies who live there.
  • (5/5)
    God can this woman write anything worthy of less than five stars? How is she not more famous? Her talent is so underrated. I'm consistently impressed with her work. In To Love and Be Wise (which is a lovely title) it's fair to say the investigation makes absolutely no progress for 90% of the book, and yet so much happens. Tey is unparalleled at drawing vivid, jump-off-the-page characters. I have never met a more self-confident author. Her voice can be incredibly hilarious at the most unexpected moments and though the case itself is fairly light throughout (for most of the novel indeed nobody's sure there's even a case at all) it's a wonderful occasion for her to display her knowledge of human nature and she does so beautifully. The end is incredible - both completely out there and so logical. I've never read an end that feels both like a tremendous deflation and the greatest stroke of genius ever. She's amazing. Please do read her if you haven't already.
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Not my favorite of her books, but I had never read it before. If you’re going to read a Tey, read The Daughter of Time, or Brat Farrer. (Jan. 2008)

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    I always look forward to reading Josephine Tey with anticipation and To Love and Be Wise fulfilled all my expectations. When an unusually good looking young man steps into the life of best-selling author Lavina Fitch’s household he appears to be focusing his charm on Lavinia’s niece, Liz. He also befriends Liz’s fiancé Walter, a well-known radio broadcaster, and together they conceive of a shared book project. But what really lies behind Leslie Searle’s insinuation into this family? When he suddenly disappears without a trace, Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard must try to solve the mysteries surrounding this disappearance and determine if he is indeed investigating a well-planned murder.Two words come to mind when I think of Josephine Tey - intelligent and elegant. She never under-estimates her readers, she neither spoon-feeds us nor lead us by the hand into her complex stories. The mysteries are used to this writers’ best advantage, that of exploring characters. Major or minor, her characters are well developed, unique and real. There is a sophistication to her books that never condecends it simply adds to the style. To Love and Be Wise, with it’s detailed character development and mostly believable plot twists ensures that this book still stands up well even 60 plus years after publication. I enjoy the mysteries of Josephine Tey, but for me it’s the quality of the writing that is the main draw. There is a genuine effortlessness and great style to her writing that makes for very pleasurable reading.
  • (3/5)
    More Style Than SubstanceThis is a slim volume with a thin plot by any standards. My small format paperback version, with moderately large font, ran a scant 207 pages. On the strength of so many glowing reviews for Tey's works in general, I picked up this one with high hopes that it would wash away the bad taste left by the poor writing in a number of the books I've read recently. I selected it at random from a batch of old paperbacks I recently entered into my LibraryThing catalog prior to boxing them up for temporary storage. The writing style didn't disappoint, but the plot and character development did, sadly.I have to warn any readers of this review that the cover art of my version of the book contained a 'spoiler'. I began my reading already aware of the main trick, hook, gimmick, device, whatever you want to call it, that drove the plot. Almost certainly that colored my critical assessment of Tey's development of the plot. Even without this 'handicap' to objective evaluation, I think I would have found the basic premise of the plot unbelievable, or at least have found Tey's treatment of it unconvincing. I can't give specific details without violating book review etiquette and giving away too much.The reader learns on the first page that the story will involve a recurring character in Tey's mysteries, Inspector Alan Grant. His well-established friendship with a prominent stage actress, Marta Hallard, is the plot device that serves multiple functions in the story. It brings Grant to a book party where he meets the character around whom the central mystery revolves, a young American photographer, Leslie Searle, who comes to the party in order to manufacture an introduction into an extended family that includes the feted author and her radio broadcasting celebrity nephew. The Hallard connection also provides a series of clues arising from Marta's knowledge of past and present relationships among the characters; a convenient base for Grant in the village in which the mysterious 'situation' occurs; and the all-important sounding board for Inspector Grant to use for his musings, so that the reader can be made privy to them. The fact that Grant has actually met Searle is an important aspect of the plot.Throughout the book Searle is consistently described as being gob-stoppingly beautiful for a man (my phrase, not Tey's), and in a way that people find puzzling and disconcerting. Even to the point of making some of the characters suspicious, and of engendering instant hatred in one case. Searle is a man on a mission, and the first step is for him to gain a social acquaintance with the extended family of Lavinia Fitch (author), her widowed sister, Emma Garrowby, Emma's step-daughter Liz, who is Lavinia's secretary, and Lavinia's nephew (son of her other sister), Walter Whitmore, who is a radio celebrity and is engaged to Liz. This family occupies a great pile of a house called Trimmings in a small artist's colony, Salcott St. Mary. Searle gets himself invited to Trimmings for the weekend on the slim pretext of being friends with someone whom Walter knows. He ends up staying, and staying, and staying...until he mysteriously disappears mere hours after a rather public 'spat' with Walter in the local public house. In the interim he has ever-so-politely managed to twit, snub, insult, and otherwise alienate nearly every member of the artistic community and the family who is hosting him except one. He is seen to be very sympatico with the loveable Liz. So much so that her engagement to Walter might be threatened.When Inspector Grant is called in, no one knows for sure whether Scotland Yard is investigating an accidental drowning, a murder, a suicide, a kidnapping, a case of amnesia, or a deliberate departure by Searle. Grant smells a rat, suspects some sleight of hand on Searle's part, and spends the rest of the book ruling out other possibilities and proving the one he's satisfied with. None of the suspects for murder, if there was a murder, convince Grant, much less the reader. Tey provides him with a Eureka! moment, courtesy of chance bits of information that come his way that serve to explain other puzzling bits that arise from his investigations. The story rushes to its conclusion in the final 20 pages, or there abouts. I can imagine that the reaction of many readers can be summed up as "Huh!"I set the book aside with a general feeling of dissatisfaction. As mentioned earlier, the basic premise was never convincing to me. I didn't like any of the characters. I didn't much care what the final explanation was in terms of motivations of those characters. Though I've been critical of elements of the plot and execution, there is a spare elegance to Tey's style, and in this instance at least, an economy of 'agents' that propel the plot. Both provide welcome relief from all the frilly, overly explicative prose of many mystery writers. I'll probably read at least one more of Josephine Tey's novels. Thousands, even millions of her fans can't all be wrong. Maybe this was just the worst of the small bunch of her works. And even with all the negatives brought out in my review, I still found the book more worth my time and effort than many modern mysteries.
  • (5/5)
    To Love and Be Wise boasts another absolutely gorgeous cover by Pamela Patrick. This is one time when I understand the Goodreads folk who obsess about uniformity in a series. My editions are a ragtag group;someday I'd like to have the matched set.The story: A disconcertingly beautiful young man becomes part of the lives of an extended family – and then disappears. He leaves behind amidst the bewilderment a girl who loves him despite herself, her fiancé who is all at once a suspect in foul play of some sort in the disappearance, and a detective (Alan Grant, of course) intensely frustrated by a puzzle whose solution evades him. I don't recall ever reading this before (though given my memory that means little), and so the basic effect of having new Josephine Tey to read is a wonderful thing.I enjoyed the exploration of the effect an extravagantly attractive man has on those he meets. Beauty is one of those attributes, like wealth or height or curly hair, which many who lack it envy, and which is, sometimes at least, not all it's cracked up to be. This gorgeous creature Leslie Searles attracts attention, including from DI Alan Grant – and he has learned over a lifetime of it to manipulate it, to some degree. I liked that there is no implication that for the most part the attention is sexual in nature. I have the feeling that in a book written more recently the instant interest Alan shows in him would be hedged about with explanation and defense. Here, it is quite simply that he is something extraordinary, and his entrance into a room is something like the arrival of a bird of paradise: even if you're not a bird lover, you have to take notice of the sheer extravagant splendor. The vicar of the village where he roosts for a lengthy visit states his belief that Searles is a demon in disguise – it's the only explanation for his beauty, and for the unsettling effect he has on everyone. He is disconcerting. It also nicely explains his so-abrupt disappearance as he and a comrade (Walter Whitmore, a Thoreau-wannabe who mellifluously reads nature essays on the radio) canoe down the river with plans to turn the adventure into a book. "But – but Walter Whitmore!" Grant said. "There is something inherently absurd about it, you know. What would that lover of little bunnies have to do with murder?""You've been in the Force long enough to know that it is just those lovers of little bunnies that commit murder," his chief said snappily.But the demon theory is not an explanation the police are prepared to carry on with, however it appeals to Alan Grant, and he irritably steps up the search when locals' attempts to find Leslie fail. If it were only that Leslie is missing, the initial sweeps might be held sufficient – after all, an adult may abscond with himself as he pleases. But the circumstances under which he vanished are the problem: he was seen to bait the "bunny-lover" Whitmore at a pub the night before his disappearance was noticed – again, by Walter Whitmore. Walter, through a native self-confidence or naïveté, is ready and willing to discuss the circumstances, including those that lead to conclusions that his fiancée was quite possibly falling in love with Leslie and that Walter was well aware of the possibility, seemingly never adding the two and the two to make the four: he is a very real suspect. He's also a very real character, almost of Ted Baxter ilk: not a bad man, or a stupid one, really – just egocentric and unexpectedly oblivious. His fiancée, Liz, is lovely, an ordinary sort of a woman who knows Walter's shortcomings and cares for him anyway, but still finds herself swept away by the combination of stunning good looks and an equally deadly combination of intelligence and humor that provides her with conversation she can never have with Walter. Leslie is more reserved; the short time he is in the picture presents a vivid image of his personality, but as Alan finds it's not that easy to get a handle on exactly who he was; part of it, though, is a little illumination of what it's like to live inside that spotlight, to be that bird of paradise, inspiring love and hatred and all sorts of other strong emotion simply by virtue of looking as he looks. Minor characters are, as always, wonderful portraits in miniature; secondary characters – including a deeper acquaintance with Marta Hallard – are, as always, unique and genuine; and Alan Grant, as always, is magnificent. The mystery is, as is typical with Josephine Tey, not really one which is conducive to solution by the armchair detective. I want to say I guessed it, but that could just be internal Tonypandy. But, as is typical with Tey, the mystery isn't the point. It's just a hook – a clever and engaging hook – on which to hang an exploration of personalities. This must drive some mystery buffs straight up a wall. Since I read for character and quality of writing before anything else, I'm perfectly happy. I might have mentioned it in other reviews: I adore Josephine Tey.
  • (4/5)
    Better than average mystery which I read to get a taste of Tey's mystery style.
  • (5/5)
    I've recently been rereading the Josephine Tey mysteries. Sadly, there aren't many--only eight of them. One of the pleasures of reading To Love and Be Wise after almost all of the others was recognizing allusions to the prior novels, such as Jerry Lamont, a suspect in The Man in the Queue; Jammy Hopkins, the sensationalist journalist from A Shilling for Candles; and several characters that would get a mention in The Daughter of Time such as Benny Skoll, and novelists Lavinia Fitch and Silas Weekly.Lavinia Fitch actually has a prominent role in this novel, as she plays hostess to American photographer Leslie Searle. Inspector Alan Grant meets the "beautiful young man" briefly at a party. Weeks later he'll be investigating Searle's disappearance and possible murder. Lavinia says of Searle she's "sure that he was something very wicked in Ancient Greece" and her guest has an unsettling effect on all around him. Her Inspector Alan Grant has rather grown on me through the novels. He's no Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. He's not at all flashy or eccentric and his strong suit isn't brilliant deductions, but what his superior calls "flair." In other words, he's an intuitive detective--sometimes his gut doesn't match his head, and sometimes his gut and his prejudices lead him wrong. He's about the most fallible detective protagonist I've ever read. I love Tey's style--spare, lyrical and witty and her characters are delightfully individualized. Even though I don't think this is one of her best novels, it may be her best mystery. Tey tends not to care much about devising perfect little puzzle pieces. She certainly plays fair this time--the clues are all there, even if very quietly dropped in, and I do remember the twist as a surprise first time reading, which makes for a delicious denouement.
  • (4/5)
    American photographer Leslie Searle has gone missing near an artist's colony called Salcott St. Mary. The local officials call in Scotland Yard to run the investigation. Inspector Grant is sent. Has the young man made a run for it? Did he accidentally fall into the river? Was he murdered? Was there some other explanation for his disappearance? Grant must puzzle out the case that reminds him of the lady who is sawed into two pieces in magic shows. We meet an interesting cast of characters. This book started out slowly for me since there was no disappearance until page 79. Once the investigation began, the tempo of the book picked up. I found Inspector Grant to be likeable.
  • (5/5)
    Love it, love Josephine Tey. Great mystery, great characters, great story.
  • (4/5)
    Elizabeth Mackintosh (1896 or '97 - 1952) used two pseudonyms. She wrote about two dozen plays under the name of Gordon Daviot and her best known books were written under the name Josephine (for her mother) Tey (the surname of her English grandmother). It is in these novels we meet the famous Detective Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard. In To Love and Be Wise, Inspector Alan Grant introduces a charismatic, magnetic young American man by the name of Leslie Searle to famed author Lavinia Fitch at a literary party in London. Later on, Grant is called to Ms. Fitch's home in the artist colony of Salcott St. Mary to investigate Leslie Searle's disappearance. Tey writes mysteries for people like me who don't read mysteries. Her prose is smart and tight, the dialogue wonderfully believable and the characters populating her narratives are rich, vibrant and authentic. They are people you've known, or would like to know. Her main protagonist, Inspector Alan Grant has none of the eccentricities that plague many mystery detectives. He is fluid, honest, sagacious and unpretentious, not to mention totally charming. Josephine Tey's talent and skill lie in her brilliant storytelling and characterization. If you haven't yet read Josephine Tey's witty and sophisticated mysteries, you are in for a treat.
  • (5/5)
    Tey does things with her apparently simple plots that no one, but no one else can manage. A deliciously sly woman.
  • (5/5)
    Love it. This one's got assorted selfish and unpleasant people (as opposed to the usual one-who-is-the-villain), a very nice mystery, Tey's usual wonderful characters, and a happy ending - even a funny one. Those who suffered in the course of the story pretty well brought it on themselves. Grant 'pulls a Lamont' - I wonder if Tey put that in because The Man in the Queue was originally published under her other pseudonym and she wanted to claim it? Anyway. Lovely all over, and a real laugh (a LOL) at the end. And particularly interesting to me because many of the characters here are the authors Grant was being scathing about in The Daughter of Time (which remains absolutely my favorite Tey. But this is a good second).
  • (3/5)
    Tey rarely disappoints. The puzzle mechanics here are below her usual standard, but she provides fabulous incidentals. The child throwing rocks against a door Grant: "can't you think of a better game to play?" Child: "No." The casual cruelty of Leslie Searle. All nicely done.
  • (5/5)
    American photographer Leslie Searle is the perfect house guest -- charming, polite, thoughtful, and unusually attractive. Yet his presence oddly disrupts the household of Trimmings and the village of Salcott, acting as a catalyst for interpersonal conflict. Searle's sudden disappearance only heightens the tension. Is he alive or dead? If he is dead, was his death accidental or deliberate? If deliberate, was it suicide or murder? It is up to Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard to piece together the details and solve the mystery.Josephine Tey's talent as a mystery novelist is apparent in this story. She had a gift for illustrating character with an economy of words, exposing a person's essence with precise and succinct detail. The dialog is witty and not clichéd. This book is peopled with writers of various sorts of literature, from popular romance novels to serious social commentary, and I particularly enjoyed Tey's detached observations on writing and writers.Tey didn't always follow the conventions for mystery novels, and she does hold some information back. The reader might be told that Grant has discovered something important, but Tey doesn't tell you what that something is until she is ready for you to know. Thus, I was pleased when I noticed a clue before Grant did, and was able to figure out some aspects of the mystery before he worked it out in the novel!
  • (4/5)
    An entertaining read as always with Tey. Here her series detective Alan Grant is faced with the problem of the disappearance of the charismatic American photographer Leslie Searle. Has he been murdered by one of the family or the villagers? Did he fall in the river accidentally? Or is there another possibility? Grant's intuitive approach solves the mystery, as usual.
  • (5/5)
    The sudden disappearance of a young American photographer, from the little village of Salcott St Mary, provides Inspector Alan Grant with one of his most diverting cases. Has Leslie Searle been murdered? Has he committed suicide? Is he dead? There are some clues, but they lead nowhere, until Inspector Grant's flair for the unusual leads him to a brilliant and totally unexpected solution. - jacket notes. A very good classic English mystery.