Cover Image: Dear Little Corpses

Dear Little Corpses

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Member Reviews

A rent collector is murdered, and children are missing in Dear Little Corpses, the latest Josephine Tey mystery.

The heroine of Dear Little Corpses is a fictionalized Josephine Tey. Tey was a writer of laudable British golden age mysteries that fictionalized historical figures. This book attempts to do the same with varying results. The pacing here is clearly at historical fiction speed. The first third is setting the atmosphere and time period of right before WWII as the real Operation Pied Piper begins shipping British town children to the countryside. Not much else happens. Eventually, the mysteries begin but it is a long time coming.

I think this book would be better for historical fiction, rather than mystery, fans due to its pacing. However, its character development is excellent. 3 stars.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.
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This is my first novel of Josephine Tey series; previously I read by Nicola Upson "Stanley and Elsie" and I loved it so I wanted to try these series. 
I loved: the settings, the historical background and the different characters description and development. What I didn’t love was the pace of the book, very slow at the beginning and then everything resolved in few pages. 
I have to say the story is quite sad because involve children kidnapping and killing.
Thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and Nicola Upson for the ARC.
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It was 1939 as war was declared that the evacuation of hundreds of young children from London to the countryside began. Most parents didn't want their children to leave, sure they could protect them better themselves. But being reassured by teachers and staff saw them boarding the trains, most were crying, a lot looked frightened, but it was supposed to keep them safe. When two buses arrived in the small Suffolk village of Polstead, the vicar's wife could see there were many more children than she'd thought. The chaos went on for a number of hours before the children were taken to their new homes.

With the fete on the following day, Josephine and Marta arrived to help out. Josephine was to do some of the judging and she was nervous about that. As she and her fellow judge were about to tackle the fancy dress, it was realised that one of the children, Annie, daughter of a local family who'd taken other children, was missing. The fete was dismantled, and as Josephine's friend, Archie Penrose, a DCI from Scotland Yard, was there, he soon had searchers ready for the task of finding Annie. But worse was to come, much worse. There were secrets in the village and it seemed they'd all come out very soon...

Dear Little Corpses is the 10th in the Josephine Tey series by Nicola Upson and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The heartbreak of taking children from their families mingled with the concerns of war, the young men who'd enlisted, and the changes that were coming. I've only read #9 before this one, so I can say they standalone. I can also see I'd know the characters better if I'd started at the beginning. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the tenth book in this excellent series, and I have read all of the previous nine books. Over time I have developed a close relationship with the main characters and expected to enjoy this book very much. I was not disappointed.

Dear Little Corpses begins in September 1939, as war is announced and the mass evacuation of children from London begins. Reading Upson's account brought home to me the awfulness of the situation. Imagine being a mother putting a luggage label on your five year old daughter and having to leave her with hundreds of other children in the care of a few teachers and overworked officials. As can be expected in such a huge event, despite an incredible amount of organisation, mix ups would have occurred and children must have gone missing. The author takes this basic idea and turns it into a harrowing story.

Josephine Tey and her partner Marta meanwhile are spending one short holiday together before Marta goes to America to work for Alfred Hitchcock. They become involved in the arrival of the evacuees to the village and are there when the first child goes missing. Archie Penrose is there too and he leads the initial investigation. I very much enjoyed the introduction to the story of Margery Allingham who at the time was a more famous author than Tey.

Beautifully written as always this book was a fascinating account of historical events mixed into an intriguing fictional mystery. Hopefully the author has plans for more books because I am not ready to say goodbye to Archie and Josephine yet!
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Cw: death of a child, lost child/kidnapped

Sept 1, 1939 a mass evacuation took place across Britain, thousands of children left their parents for safety. The story starts out with Angela leaving her parents on the way to the train station. This was such a good book but so hard to read. My heart breaks for the families this has happened too. Past and present. I'm having a hard time coming up with the right words to describe this book. If I'd known the content I probably wouldn't have read this book.
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I have so many thoughts having finished this book. First and foremost I don’t read crime books. I had originally requested this book from the cover and the title and blurb. I didn’t realize at the time that this is the 10th book in a series. I don’t feel like I was missing really anything pertinent so it works as a stand alone. This book is slow and oh so heavy. Especially as the mother of small children. Trying to understand the level of emotion around WWll and the impossible task that these parents faced with sending their children off to safety is an impossible task. Then adding the horror of this type to it just shook me to my core and caused more than a few tears to fall. This story line was not for me, this type of book is not for me. So I will tell you what I do know. The writing is great. The world building and authenticity of the time are incredibly well done. The characters are well developed and demand a lot of emotional response. Wether you fall in love with Josephine, or loath the ground that Cyril walks on. You cannot simply read this and walk away without feeling some sort of way. So for that I have rated this based on those things.
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I read the first book in this series, and while it was fine in and of itself, the co-opting of Josephine Tey to be a marionette on Nicola Upson's strings made me a little queasy. Yet when I saw this tenth book in the series on Netgalley, I thought I'd try it anyway. Stupid rookie error. I should know by now to always follow my gut. 

If you google Josephine Tey, the first real hit is Underneath the url all you'll see is "Josephine Tey A Very Private Person". And yet here she is, saying and thinking and detecting things that she never did in life. And if she had a lesbian lover, my sense is she would <i>not</i> want that relationship splashed across the pages of novels. Everything about this is nauseous. 

It's also just never a very good idea to meddle with someone known to be a truly fine author. Anyone trying to write a sequel to a Jane Austen novel is going to have to expect a gimlet eye on their prose. And writing a mystery novel starring a mystery writer who produced books that were not only fine mysteries but fine books ... well, that has to be a little fraught. Vanity Fair cites Tey's "disdain for formulaic fiction"... I can't say I remember enough of that first novel in the series to say if it was sufficiently unformulaic to deserve its star, but ... well, that kind of answers the question, doesn't it? I remember Tey's work vividly. 

Lesson learned, finally. I need to avoid these books and books like them at all costs.
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‘The full moon made a nonsense of the blackout.’

This is the tenth book in in a series based on an imagined life of Scottish novelist and playwright Josephine Tey, whose novel ‘The Daughter of Time’ is amongst my favourite reads. Very little is known about Josephine Tey’s private life, and Ms Upson has imagined her involved in investigating the sort of mysteries she wrote about.

This novel opens on 31 August 1939 as Great Britain prepares to declare war on Germany. Josephine Tey is living in Polstead, Suffolk, in the cottage she inherited from her godmother (‘The Death of Lucy Kyte’ Josephine Tey #5). Her lover Marta is staying with her, and they are looking forward to spending a quiet week together.
Children are being evacuated from London, and the vicar’s wife has asked Josephine to help with the arrival of a busload of evacuees allocated to Polstead. But, while Polstead is expecting twenty children, each of whom has been allocated to a family, a significantly larger number of children arrive. The welcoming committee is thrown into chaos as they try to find homes for each of the additional children. One boy, Noah, is left without a place to stay. The spinster sisters who have taken his sister refuse to take him as well. Reluctantly, Josephine offers Noah temporary accommodation.

The next day, at the village fete, where Josephine has been invited to judge a series of events culminating in a fancy-dress parade, a local family realise that their four-year-old daughter Annie is missing. Annie, annoyed that her mother was taking in extra children, had gone off on her own across the street to stay with her grandmother. But Annie never arrived, and neither her mother nor her grandmother realised she was missing until they arrived at the fancy dress parade.

Josephine’s friend, DCI Archie Penrose of Scotland Yard is visiting friends in the village and organises a thorough search. The search itself uncovers some secrets that several villagers would prefer to remain hidden. There are a few twists in this story, and heartbreak for more than one family. Ms Upson has peopled this novel with some well-drawn characters and has also included a role for Margery Allingham.

While this novel can be read as a standalone, I recommend the series. Which reminds me: there are still a few that I have not yet read.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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This new murder mystery by Nicola Upson featuring Josephine Tey and Co is dark and gloomy just as the times (the beginning of WWII).
The murder mystery in this installment is made all the more daunting, haunting, and even hopeless by the events and characters surrounding it. There are children's abductions and murders, people showing their true colors (not the good ones), long time horrible secrets being uncovered.
WWII is accumulating its soul=destrying power and powers in London decided to evacuate children to the country. Readers get to see a version of this eventuality that shows many grades and many colors to peoples' characters, souls, and nature. It is not all flags and ribbons, scones, and lemonade. And on top of all this horror and sadness, we get to follow Josephine Tey and her friend Police Detective while they uncover murders and so much more that has been left hidden and buried...
I can't say I enjoyed this book but I respected the author and her story and am grateful to Nicola Upson and her series.
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I think I’m one of few when I say I hadn’t previously read any of Nicola Opson’s work. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling mystery that will make sure I check out more of her books. 

I didn’t know this was a series with the protagonist being the main character in other books, although that didn’t seem to affect my enjoyment of the story. Iv read other reviews saying it’s best to read the previous books first, which if I’d known I probably would have done so but I wouldn’t say is 100% necessary! 

A compelling mystery, great page turner and wonderfully written novel!
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Another great mystery featuring Upson’s Josephine Tey. This book shows Tey getting drawn in to the village efforts to help evacuees..
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I had not heard of the Josephine Tey series before when I started reading "Dear Little Corpses". I wonder if I would not have been so confused if I had that background knowledge - @netgalley, again you do not provide enough background info!

On the cusp of the war, children were being evacuated from London to keep them safe. Several families are requested to take in children. One family has taken in a young girl but do not want to take in her brother.  The next day,  one of the local children goes missing. It seems to take forever just to get to this point.  What happened to the child? Why?  How?  Why does it seem like there are so many secrets surrounding these disappearances?  It was interesting at this point that the focus on loss was apparent: the loss of children sent away from their families in a time of war, when loss and displacement was huge, the disappearance and loss of children in the village, and the death of children. 

In a nutshell, this book is about the darkness behind the disappearance of little children. It takes a very long while for the plot to get moving and I found this to be quite frustrating. You are introduced to every single character and are provided with all of their perspectives which does provide a solid basis for the disappearances but does nothing to create the tension in a supposed thriller like this one.
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The tenth in Nicola Upson's series featuring Josephine Tey has its harrowing moments as is to be expected from a novel which deals with the grim realities of child disappearance and murder.

The setting in the chaotic and fear-drenched early days of WW2 is well-realised and I was  delighted that Josephine had a meeting with my other favourite crime queen, Margery Allingham.

However my main quibble relates to aspects of  the central  relationship between Josephine and Marta. I think it highly out of character that she would contemplate leaving Britain at this juncture to be with her lover while she worked n Hollywood. While I realise that this is fiction, in real life Tey would not have considered abandoning her elderly, if fit, father to journey to the USA  at such a time.

This continues to be an interesting and thought-provoking series, regardless of whether or not the reader accepts the author's take on Tey's sexuality.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the digital review copy.
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Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson is not only a riveting mystery, but it tugs at the heartstrings as it brings historic pre-war Britain to life in a way that mere historical facts can never do.
I had no idea that this was part of a series but, luckily for me, Upson is a skilled enough writer to enable the reader to enjoy the current work without feeling lost as to what went before. While she mentions previous events, it's only as it relates to the current story and the mentions of previous events do not overpower the tale being told.
The characters are complex and compelling and the situation in which they find themselves - the evacuation of parents away from their families and into the arms of strangers - is heart-wrenching. Setting the mystery of a missing child in the midst of that chaos gives it an added gravitas.
The book touches on themes of youthful mistakes that impact the lives of others both in the past and the future, as well as loss and grief, and the importance of community.
I am grateful to #NetGalley and #CrookedLaneBooks for the advanced copy of #DearLittleCorpses and I highly recommend this book.
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What I love about this series is that Upson does such an amazing job with the characters. They are all interesting, and every single person has a life outside of the plot. And Josephine just stands out wonderfully. She is an absolute joy to follow. The writing itself is very easy, making this a very fun read even though the plot is very dark. There are some major content warnings in here regarding infanticide and paedophilia, so please be aware of that before picking this book up. The story is set at the start of war in 1939 and the start of the mass child evacuation of London. During the chaos of this, a little girl disappears. This is the 10th book in the series, but the mystery stands on its own. It is nice to know a bit about the main character's stories, but definitely not necessary. Then again, it is also not a punishment at all to read the other books in this series...
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The most recent entry in the Josephine Tey series of historical mysteries. The setting, a village in England during the evacuation of children from London at the start of WWII, made this entry stand out. In the confusion resulting from the arrival of more children than originally agreed upon, a little girl goes missing. It quickly becomes clear that not everything in the village is as idyllic as it looks and some old secrets will come to light.
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It took me way too long to read this book, and I still don’t understand why. I need to find out how many pages are in this ARC. I initially started this book in April and got about 25% through - that was ROUGH. My mind did not want to digest this book at the time. This is one of those rare times when I pick up a book I categorized as DNF. I’m glad I picked it back up. Although, I’m still at a loss as to why it took me so long to read it. Currently, I blame the fact that it was on my kindle / e-book and my eyes were growing tired of the screen. yea.. lets’s say that.

Josephine Tey is a writer living in Polstead, a rural town in England. The year is 1939, and World War II is imminent. A mass evacuation is taking place from London to Polstead, and in the chaos, a child is found to be missing. What happened to her? Who is responsible for her disappearance? Josephine and her neighbors have to come to accept that they don’t really know each other, and in a small town like this, that fact can prove to be deadly. 

One focus of the book is loss - loss of the children by their parents who are sending away their children to unknown locations, all in the hopes that they will be safer there than they are in the city with the war looming over their heads. Another type of loss is the literal death of a child. 

There are so many characters, and I think this is partially why it took so long for me to get into the book. I think I counted 7 characters in the first 4 chapters. I felt like I would never be able to keep up. For the most part, I was able to keep track of who everyone is in relation to each other. The writing allowed for context clues without being obvious. I look back at this abundance of characters and think this is how it feels to live in the small town of Polstead - where there are so many people, and everyone knows only surface level information about each other. It’s true, almost everyone is guarding a secret they would loathe to let get out. 

The writing is told in third person, from different points of views. The main points of views are those of Josephine and Archie, although many other characters get the chance to host our attention. The voice for each narrator was not strong, but it did the job. I could tell it was the same writer for each narrator - and when I experience multiple narrators, I like to be able to hear different voices when reading the words. 
I was permitted an e-book version of this book, which I downloaded onto both my kindle and phone (on the kindle app). I preferred reading on my telephone (I have a love/hate relationship with my kindle).

The title caught my interest. The description/summary kept my attention. I thought I’d like this book, especially once I came to terms with how much I actually like historical fiction novels. This book is set in England just before World War II is declared official by Chamberlain. 

Overall I liked the book -particularly the plot. I’m still unsure how I feel about how many characters were involved. I’m torn between irritation at how much time and energy I dedicated to remembering everyone, and admiration for making me experience the claustrophobia of being surrounded by so many people in a small town. The writing was good enough to keep me wanting to read more. The pace seemed slow at first, but picked up about 1/3 of the way in. 

There were some storylines with more potential and I feel they fell flat. In the end, everything I could think of was answered.

I recommend this book to those who like small town settings, and a mystery with multiple suspects. This book did give me a dash of “Murder She Wrote” vibes. 

Overall: 3.5/5
Heaviness: 4.5/5

Trigger warnings: Domestic violence, statutory rape, pedophilia
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Back when I requested this book for reviewing, I had no idea that it was the 10th book in a series. Because I had never heard of the Josephine Tey series before, I thought I would not be able to enjoy this novel, given how much I have missed. However, and fortunately, this novel can be read as a standalone with no issues. Doubtlessly, fans of Josephine Tey will enjoy and appreciate all the references I could not. Nevertheless, I did not feel like I needed to read the previous books to understand what happens in Dead Little Corpses.

Admittedly, I was a bit puzzled by this novel. The blurb establishes that the plot focuses on the mysterious and sudden disappearance of little girls. Surprisingly enough, it is not until the halfway mark that someone -finally- disappears, and the plot starts moving. By this stage, I was pretty frustrated at the fact that nothing happened for almost two hundred pages. All the characters are introduced, their background stories explained from their own perspectives, and there is a good sense of the dynamics of the town where the girls disappear. However, two hundred pages for characterisation and setting is absurdly lengthy for a Mystery novel.

I did not get the thrills I expected because, by the time the action started, I was ready to give up. The town's general gossip and drama unrelated to the disappearances were not enough to compensate for the lack of action.

Sadly, the resolution at the end was predictable and unnecessarily rushed. However, I must remark that I was not too distressed about the predictability -as I usually am when it comes to the genre- mainly because I was distraught and uncomfortable with the undeniable grim ending. It took me a while to shake off the depressing flavour this book left me with.

Overall, Dead Little Corpses was not my cup of tea. The sluggish pace, the uninteresting characters and the depressing and dark undertone of the narrative were detrimental to my reading experience. I won't be picking up another Upton novel soon.
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Set in September 1939 Suffolk, this is the tenth in the twisty Josephine Tey series.  London is bracing itself for attack and in preparation sends thousands of children by bus and train to the countryside for safety.  In the confusion and terror of the mass exodus, a child goes missing (very believable).  Many people take children into their homes out of kindness but some do it begrudgingly and in hopes for cheap labour.  Josephine and her partner get involved in placing children and Josephine discovers and investigates sinister secrets.

Dear Little Corpses is a bit darker than Nicola Upson's other writing as it involves children but beautiful nonetheless.  Upson uses clever red herrings which makes for delightfully unpredictable reading.  The first 40% is slow paced but it really picks up and zooms to a brilliant finish.  Golden Age authors in my view are outstanding and Margery Allinghams's involvement is a wonderful addition.  The unique war perspective and atmospheric and historical details such as mouthwatering food descriptions are incredible.  But what captured me most was imagining the agonizing despair of parents who let their children go without knowing when they would see them again.  

Historical Fiction fans ought to read this thoughtfully-written series.  Dear Little Corpses is not light reading due to the subject matter but is gripping and laden with fascinating information drawn from true stories.

My sincere thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this thought provoking and utterly engrossing book.  I look forward to reading Josephine's next adventures!
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I have read all of the Josephine Tey books.  This is the 10th in the series and absolutely the best.  The setting if World War II in Suffolk.  Children are being evacuated from London to a village with secrets and politics.  The twists will surprise you.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
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