The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey: B-

From the back cover:
When they found the stranger stabbed to death in the queue outside the theatre, it was his complete lack of identity which struck everyone as very odd. The labels on his clothes were missing and nobody came forward to claim him. Inspector Grant of the CID has no choice but to travel deep into the theatrical world in his efforts to build up a picture of the nameless man. As the picture builds, Grant must cast his net ever wider as the dead man and the murderer slowly give up their secrets.

Luck and fingerprints. That’s how Grant seemed to operate. Oh, and much theorizing in advance of the facts with a dash of foreigner-bashing thrown in for good measure.

As the case progressed along by a series of coincidences, I was initially annoyed; it really didn’t make for much of a story. Grant had no clue there was a witness until one showed up to talk to him. And then he just so happened to run into a man fitting the description given by the witness while walking down a London street one evening. There wasn’t much delving into character.

By the end, though, it seemed more like Tey was doing this on purpose to thwart the image of the omniscient detective so prevalent in crime literature of this period. Many, if not most, of Grant’s hunches and assumptions were proven incorrect. He failed to think of things that could have significant bearing upon the case. In fact, he did not actually solve it, though there is closure on the point. For the novelty of that alone, even if the mystery itself wasn’t that great, I enjoyed the book.

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