RogerBW's Blog

The Sunken Sailor, Patricia Moyes 06 April 2020

1961 mystery, second in the series about Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett. Tibbett and his wife join some friends for a week of sailing in Essex. But the accidental drowning a few months ago starts to look less so, especially when it's followed by another.

As a mystery, it works, but it's a bit heavy-handed; I was delayed in my identification of the villain(s) because I found it hard to believe that a mystery story would be so obvious about it. The people are types (most obviously the young woman who has all the men wrapped round her finger, including the married ones) and it's pretty clear roughly what's going on from the start. The feeling of Ellis Peters, the way Modern People are basically Wrong but may eventually manage to sort themselves out, continues from the previous book, in large part in the way a woman automatically assumes that because her husband is friendly with that young woman that he's fallen for her vamping (and indeed is right to do so).

But the process of deduction, of progress from "it's obviously them" to the actual solution, is a pleasing one, even if Moyes feels the need to omit some of the evidence found and statements made by Tibbett. (I tend to feel that the dénouement should follow rapidly on the detective's solution of the case, but here it's rather dragged out by an action scene that feels superfluous.)

But what had seemed to Henry a week ago to be the essence of calm, uncomplicated beauty, now created an atmosphere at once unspeakably sinister and sad, like the painted face of a corpse in an American mortuary parlour. He was briefly surprised at himself for conceiving such an analogy: he had never been to America let alone into a mortician's den. Perhaps they weren't like that at all, in spite of all one read.

There's rather a lot of scene-setting as Tibbett, on holiday again, is gradually drawn into admitting that there is a case here that he'll need to look into before passing it on to the local police. Some of the sluggishness may be because Moyes feels the need to work in lessons on the basics of sailing too: yes, all right, it does have some relevance to the case, but it does make for a fearfully slow start to the book. Once things start moving they get rather better; while one wouldn't mistake this for a top-class mystery it certainly has its enjoyable moments.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Dead Men Don't Ski | Series: Henry Tibbett | Next in series: Death on the Agenda

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life julie enfield kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana mecha men with beards museum music mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1