RogerBW's Blog

The Curious Affair of the Third Dog, Patricia Moyes 15 February 2023

1973 mystery, eleventh in the series about Superintendent Henry Tibbett. Henry and his wife Emmy visit her sister Jane, the local Cruelty Lady (representative of the RSPCA). A local character has been imprisoned for vehicular manslaughter, and Jane ends up fetching and looking after his floating population of dogs… but should it be two or three of them?

I rather admired the way Tibbett, following his nose, finds mystery in what seems like a plain case of irresponsibility (indeed, people are surprisingly sympathetic to the man who fatally ran over a stranger while drunk off his head). While in London, he's had to keep an eye on London gang feuds (indeed, the convenient witness Major Weatherby from Death and the Dutch Uncle makes a reappearance), and what was someone who was part of that world doing here anyway?

What's eventually uncovered is a complex plot of gangs scoring off each other and trying to make their fortunes at greyhound racing, and if some of the research is a little obvious it's both interesting and well-written.

Perhaps the book is over-facile? Moyes is clearly on form, and makes the whole thing look easy, but there are multiple factions being juggled each with their own limited views of the available information. Unlike most cosy mysteries, it's spread over space, with Tibbett bouncing back and forth between Gorsemere (Hampshire, becoming commuter-belt) and London as well as other places. As someone who appreciates a good technical mystery I was favourably struck by some of the fine detail work here, and the characters are as solid as ever too.

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Previous in series: Twice in a Blue Moon | Series: Henry Tibbett | Next in series: Black Widower

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