68) Alan Hunter — Landed Gently
Fourth in the Inspector George Gently series, and the first that I’ve read. This one was first pubished in 1957, and this affects some of the background details, but doesn’t make much difference in the basic plot.
Gently is invited to spend Christmas at a country house. On the train down he meets a young American from a US Air Force base, who has wangled himself an invitation to the neighbouring country house. Lt Earle has an interest in both the tapestry workshop based at Merely, and in the young woman who runs the workshop. Gently likes the man, and isn’t happy to hear that he’s been found dead at the bottom of the grand staircase on Christmas morning. At first glance it looks like an accident, but Gently isn’t satisfied with first appearances. He soon shows that it’s not an accident, and then isn’t satisfied with the suspect preferred by his hosts.
For a short novel, there are a surprising number of red herrings and plot twists. The clues are there, but neatly buried in competently written distractions. I’m inclined to find some more of this police procedural series.