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The atmosphere of the Broads is well evoked and those familiar with the area will be able to recognise places described. The misty mornings and evenings and the mysterious reed fringed creeks and dykes really come to life as does the dialect of the locals.
I like Gently with his thoughtful unobtrusive way of setting about a case, his pipe smoking and his peppermint cream eating and his insistence that both he and his sidekick, Dutt, get time to eat and reflect however busy the investigation. I also liked the irritated tolerance with which the local police treat the men from Central Office - otherwise known and Scotland Yard.
The plot is sufficiently complex to keep the most observant reader guessing almost to the end and once you've found out who the murderer is it is easy to see how all the clues fit in and point in the right direction. Gently himself provides a useful summing up in the last chapter for those who cannot see how it all fits together. This is an enjoyable old fashioned detective story and none the worse for the lack of bad language and graphic violence.
Superintendent Walker and Inspector Hansom: local police officers
James Lammas: victim whose body is apparently found on the boat
Linda Brent: his secretary who has disappeared
Joseph Hicks: His chauffeur who has also disappeared.
Mrs. Grey: runs a local boarding house, also the aunt of Joseph Hicks
Mrs. Lammas: wife of James Lammas (from Wales)
Pauline Lammas: daughter (21) who tries to protect her father
Paul Lammas: son (20) who tries to protect his mother
Gwlady Roberts: cook
Noggins: local eel catcher, last to see the boat before the fire
Annie Packer: another local who is killed by the murderer
Ted Thatcher: recently arrived local
None of the locals are talking, and the Lammas family is concealing secrets. It takes Gently awhile to work through the case and discover the plot. Good story that I enjoyed. There is a bit of dialogue but it is phonetic and understandable.
In the first two Inspector Gently book that I have read, I could pick the criminal out near the beginning of the book, partly because the bad guy was so stereotyped. In this book on the other hand, the reader is left hanging until quite close to the end, although there are certainly plenty of suspects. On the whole I enjoyed this book, although I found it a bit wordy and I did not feel much sympathy for any of the characters.