The sixth book in the Inspector Alan Grant series.
One of Tey's finest novels, The Singing Sands centres on the mysterious death of a young man on a train, and the cryptic poem that gradually reveals the greed and envy behind his demise.
"He stumbled up the steps and across the bridge ... great bursts of steam billowed up round him from below, noises clanged and echoed from the dark vault about him. They were all wrong about hell, he thought. Hell wasn't a nice cosy place where you fried ... Hell was concentrated essence of a winter morning after a sleepless night of self-distaste."
Diagnosed with 'overwork' and in the grip of debilitating claustrophobia, Inspector Alan Grant takes leave from Scotland Yard and heads for the peaceful home of his cousin Laura, who lives with her family in the Scottish Highlands. As the London mail draws into Inverness, he sees the surly sleeping-car attendant trying to rouse an unresponsive young man. He is compelled, firstly, to point out that the passenger is dead, and secondly to pick up the newspaper that has slipped onto the compartment floor. On it the deceased, who appears to have drunk himself into oblivion, has scrawled an elusive poem about a paradise guarded by 'singing sand'. Grant is soon fascinated by the hopes and dreams of the dead man with 'tumbled black hair and ... reckless eyebrows'. And though he has planned to do nothing in Scotland but fish, he cannot help but act on the growing suspicion that a far more sinister story is waiting to be uncovered.