The students and teachers at the Leys Physical Training College for Women seem, on the surface, to be a hard-working, industrious group of personalities. Certainly that's the way they are seen by Miss Lucy Pym, a self-made author of popular psychology books. Miss Pym is flattered and pleased when a former schoolmate, who runs Leys College, invites her to present a lecture to the graduating senior students.
Miss Pym is thoroughly charmed by the young women. But she also discovers a fair amount of tension as final examinations approach. On discovering that one of the students may be cheating on an exam, Miss Pym is able to arrange it so that her apparent cheating will be ineffective.
But as Miss Pym moves to defuse a sensitive situation...well, there are difficulties. And those difficulties will lead to a suspicious and tragic death - one Miss Pym believes is murder.
The story of how that happens - and what Miss Pym does about it - is told in Miss Pym Disposes, by the remarkable Josephine Tey. It is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here. Published in 1946, it is one of only eight mysteries written by Tey during her relatively short lifetime.
If you are one of those who believe that the traditional mystery authors of the 1940s wrote only sterile puzzles with unbelievable characters and plastic settings, you really need to meet both Josephine Tey and Miss Lucy Pym. The students and teachers at Leys are all different - and believable - characters, and the reader will care deeply about what happens to them and to their school. For about three-quarters of the book, you might be reading a sophisticated comedy of manners. When tragedy intrudes quite suddenly, the reader is likely to feel it as acutely as Miss Pym. But beware of unexpected plot twists...
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
Continuing my participation in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. under way at the My Reader's Block blog, Miss Pym Disposes is my entry for the square (fifth row, third column) calling for one academic mystery.