The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey

First published 1952


“The Beasts that talk,


The streams that stand,
The stones that walk,
The singing sands,
That guard the way
To Paradise…”

What did it mean, this strange verse? Where are the talking beasts, the singing sands? What mad Paradise was this?

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard was on sick leave, but he was so fascinated by the poem and the reckless-looking youth who had scribbled it – a youth he’d found, by accident, quite dead in a train bound for the Scottish Highlands – that he couldn’t relax or enjoy the heather… until he had uncovered all the sinister details in one of the cleverest murders in criminal history.

This is the sixth in the Inspector Alan Grant Series by Ms. Tey. It looks like I’ve read all but one now, To Love and Be Wise. I did not read this series in order, just as I found the books. Each of the Alan Grant books were good, but I have to say that Alan Grant didn’t make me want to run out and get the whole series.

This finally one starts out with Alan going to his cousin Laura’s in the Highlands to fish and relax. He has been suffering from severe claustrophobia. Being in a car or a train or plane were excruciating for him. Having managed to survive the train ride north from London, as the train was disembarking he came upon a train porter trying to wake a young man. Problem was the young man was not sleeping but dead. The police ruled it a suicide and Alan went on his merry way. Inadvertently he had picked up the young man’s copy of the newspaper when helping with the body. He discovers this verse written in the margin and is haunted by it and his impressions of the young man. Eventually he gives in to his sub conscious that keeps brining him back to this death and he embarks on a search for the meaning of the verses and the truth behind the death.

This was a slow read. I could have easily put it down and went on to something else. But I liked Alan’s cousin Laura and her wee boy Pat. The setting and the fishing were restful as well. So I trudged on. The last 1/4 of the book got busy and interesting and I’m glad I finished it. A very satisfying read after all!

How about you, have you read this and did you find it slow?

This one counts for Read Scotland 2016 and My Reader’s Block Scavenger Hunt Gold – Statue.

Peggy Ann

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