This is yet another foray into an older mystery series being reprinted. This particular series was first published in 1965 and they were comparatively smaller books that other I had on my TBR that I decided to jump right in and read them both.
This will be a part of my #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge
The ‘hero’ of our narrative is Dover, a Chief Inspector with Scotland Yard who is sent to a remote location on an odd case that the local police were unable to think of anything to do.
In Dover one: There is a woman who is missing. Her defining characteristic is her weight and the repetitive mention of her size or all the misbehaviours and icky(ish) mindsets of everyone in the vicinity should have put me off. It is a police procedural with the procedure being a key factor. We are walked through every interview and thought process that Dover and his suffering subordinate, Macgregor. For all intents and purposes, my concentration should have veered off at some point in the telling of this story but it did not. I am trying to unravel the ideas I have for identifying the root cause of such an occurrence.
Dover is sent on this mission understandably to relieve his London colleagues of his presence. He is described as a slob who has an inflated opinion of his own prowess, but the latter part is not completely true. He deflects the truth to make himself look and sound more intelligent but he does it knowingly. He knows that he is taking a shortcut but is impatient to get going and refuses to let others know he is wrong even if he does admit it to himself (in a fashion). This plot has a group of unsavoury characters. None of the people are likable and are described in very vividly prejudiced terms but it suits the storyline because I do not think we are meant to like anyone in the story. The unexpected turns that the investigation takes and the way that Dover manages to come out on top (at least in the public eye) was fascinating in an odd way. The ending and the actual perpetrators of the crime in some ways show us why the missing woman was predominantly described by her appearance! I do not know if I have clarified the meandering path that my thoughts took to ultimately being satisfied with this book and getting a chance to see yet another aspect of how people’s minds worked in post-war England, but I did try.
In Dover Two: This mystery was better organized than the previous story.It is still a police procedural with everything that that entails, with in-depth interviews and a lot of leg-work. Dover is no less of a slob in this installment only maybe more so. His physical descriptions leave no room for misinterpretations but he does use his brain more than in the first book. He also very visibly grasps at the limelight by any means necessary. He also successfully wraps up the entire case. In this story, a woman in a coma has finally passed on. The town is torn between two different Christian groups and this has raised questions about the impartiality of the local police. The politics of the town provides a very vivid background for the unravelling of this odd case. Macgregor is still suffering but is also seeing different sides of his superior. He does all the leg work but the final pieces are forced together, a little mutinously, by Dover himself. The explanations are brief, physical descriptions of the suspects are fewer as in this case their faiths and their manners of behaviour are more under scrutiny. This confirmed my belief that the author seems to pour very graphic details into those factors that eventually lead to the result. This is not a spoiler as such because I could not have guessed the ending any sooner than the author wanted me to and I doubt many others can either, because of the skillful manipulation of revealing appropriate pieces of information.
Overall I am pleased to make an acquaintance of this author, and a whole new style of mystery narration. Although I do not think the content would be everyone’s cup of tea, if one can get past the (graphic) negative caricatures of people and look at it only as part of the story itself, it is more palatable.I say this as someone who is usually very sensitive to the background portrayal of any story, and someone who actually (surprisingly) enjoyed both the stories I have read of this series so far.
I received an ARC of the reprint thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.