Nancy Spain, a dazzling mid-century English eccentric, is back in print
'Her detective novels are hilarious - less about detecting than delighting, with absurd farce and a wonderful turn of phrase . . . Nancy Spain was bold, she was brave, she was funny, she was feisty' SANDI TOKSVIG
Miriam Birdseye, ex-revue star and now professional sleuth, is intrigued when the headmistress of Radcliff Hall arrives at her Baker Street detective agency. A series of bizarre stunts that at first seemed like pranks have taken a sinister turn, and since Mis Lipscoomb found her gym rope half sawn through, she's begun to fear not only for her school, but for her life.
This is how Miriam and her friend, Russian ballerina Natasha Nevkorina, find themselves on board the train to a Sussex girls' school, in the unlikely guise of teachers. Before long the detective duo uncovers a blackmail plot, infidelity and a dizzying array of school schisms. And then a teacher is poisoned during the school play; can they discover the culprit before the body count rises?
From the pen of Nancy Spain, for whom farce and humour are a lot more fun than a conventional detective novel, the result is a deliciously wild ride.
'An either intense or sombre approach to crime is to Miss Spain foreign: in her world an inspired craziness rules . . . Her wit, her zest, her outrageousness, and the colloquial stylishness of her writing are quite her own'
Her detective novels are hilarious. They are high camp and less about detecting than delighting, with absurd farce and a wonderful turn of phrase . . . Nancy Spain was bold, she was brave, she was funny, she was feisty. I owe her a great deal
An either intense or sombre approach to crime is to Miss Spain foreign: in her world an inspired craziness rules . . . Her wit, her zest, her outrageousness, and the colloquial stylishness of the writing are quite her own
Nancy Spain was a novelist, broadcaster and journalist. Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1917, she was the great-niece of the legendary Mrs Beeton. As a columnist for the Daily Express and She magazine, frequent guest on radio's Woman's Hour and panellist on the television programmes What's My Line? and Juke Box Jury, she was one of the most recognisable (and controversial) media personalities of her era. During the Second World War she worked as a driver, and her comic memoir of her time in the WRNS became an immediate bestseller. After the war she began publishing her acclaimed series of detective novels, and would go on to write over twenty books. Spain and her longtime partner, Joan Werner Laurie, were killed when the light aircraft carrying them to the Grand National in 1964 crashed close to the racecourse. Her friend Noel Coward wrote, 'It is cruel that all that gaiety, intelligence and vitality should be snuffed out when so many bores and horrors are left living.'