Nine Lessons: Some Wounds Never Heal

Author: Nicola Upson

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Copyright Year: 2017


Josephine Tey is in Cambridge, a town gripped by fear and suspicion as a serial rapist stalks the streets, and in the shadow of King’s College Chapel, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose faces some of the most horrific and audacious murders of his career.

The seventh novel in Nicola Upson’s highly praised series featuring Josephine Tey takes the reader on a journey from 1930s Cambridge to the bleak and desolate Suffolk coast – a journey which will ultimately leave Archie’s and Josephine’s lives changed forever.

Reviewer: Celia Jelbart

Nicola Upson is writing a mystery series featuring crime writer Josephine Tey and her friend Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose. I was drawn to the series when I learnt Josephine Tey, author of the novel The Daughter of Time about Richard III, featured as a character.

Nine Lessons is the seventh in the series, but may be read as a stand-alone. Aspects of the two main characters’ history play parts in the story; the author has written enough scaffolding information to allow a reader to continue on and enjoy the mounting tension.

The story is set in the university town of Cambridge. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the Christmas Eve service held in King’s College Chapel, plays a part in the story, and I appreciated learning more of the service’s history. The town for me became a third thread in the story, and although I have never visited Cambridge, after reading this book, I certainly want to visit.

Two parallel threads of investigation run through the book: one a series of rapes terrifying the women of Cambridge and restricting their freedoms, and the second a series of murders. Tension builds as local police and visiting Detective Chief Inspector’s investigative efforts are frustrated.

Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose is called in to investigate the murders, and Josephine Tey is drawn into the investigation through her friendship with Archie, a neighbour and her presence in the town.

Tension is well paced throughout the book and kept me wondering in both subplots; red herrings throwing me off the scent in each case. The climax to the murder investigation is dramatic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, didn’t want to put it down, with moments gasping out loud and moments of being very sad.  I highly recommend the Nine Lessons.