My actual rating for this book is 4.5 stars. I really liked it, but maybe not quite as much as I did the previous two books in the series.
In this, the third Josephine Tey book by Nicola Upson, Josephine is in her club in London working on a new book. The story she is writing is based on the execution of two women, 30 years earlier, for baby farming.
The crimes of the two women, Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters, were horrific as were their executions. For Josephine there is an added interest though, since she went to school with Sachs' daughter, who killed herself there for reasons that were unclear at the time.
The past soon surfaces in the present though when the brutal murder of a young seamstress appears to be linked to the executions in the past. Soon Josephine's draft novel is much more than a fictionalised portrait of the past, it has become information needed to solve the new murder. Although 30 years may seem like a long time ago, someone is still desparate to protect facts from that time from coming to the surface now. The only questions being who that person might be and what they are hiding.
This books shows a lot of what life in the first half of the 20th century was like. It takes the reader from the comfortable and somewhat decadent surroundings of a private club, the to grim interior of Holloway Prison and the desperate darkness of the London slums. There is a nice mix of Josephine's private life and problems with a good murder mystery. And I always enjoy trying to figure out what parts of the story are based on fact, and how much is pure fiction.
The reasons I have for not enjoying this book quite as much as the previous ones are that Josephine wasn't actually involved in solving the mystery and the fact that I had not only the murderer but also their hidden motive figured out long before the characters in the book did.
Something I do really like and appreciate is that Josephine is not idolised in these books. She is very human and at times not very likeable, which makes her all the more real. I will most definitely continue reading this series.
One warning for people who might be interested in reading this book without having read the previous two. I think you really need to have read at least the first book in the series before starting this one.