Friday, October 14, 2016

Book review: The False Inspector Dew - Peter Lovesey

The False Inspector Dew by [Lovesey, Peter]

Title: The False Inspector Dew

Author: Peter Lovesey


Genre: Thriller

Ranking: 8.0 out of 10.0

Buy: Yes

Borrow: Yes

Amazon link:

Summary:  The book is set in 1921, and Alma Webster, a florist and reader of romances, thinks she is passionately in love with her dentist, Walter Baranov. There is only one foreseeable outcome: the murder of his wife, Lydia.

Inspired by the real-life Dr Crippen case, they plot a way to achieve it perfectly aboard the ocean liner, Mauretania. 

With a fine sense of irony, Baranov takes the identity of Inspector Dew, Crippen's nemesis. But when a murder is reported aboard the ship and 'Inspector Dew' is invited to investigate, life becomes very complicated for Walter.

Main review: 
The False Inspector Dew takes place in the early 1920s. Alma Webster, a florist, is a romantically-inclined woman of 28 and no experience with the opposite sex, falls madly in love with her dentist, Walter Baranov. Walter is married to Lydia a demanding, self-centered and wealthy actress and comes to appreciate the unswerving devotion of Alma. There is just one obstacle to their grand passion - Lydia. When she announces her plans to give up the stage in England for an imagined career in the growing American film industry; and that those plans involve Walter leaving his dentist practice (which she paid for) and joining her in America, Walter and Alma hatch a plot to remove her. 

Lydia sets about selling the dental practice and their home, packing up their belongings, and booking passage on the Mauretania, but Walter tells her he refuses to go. He then books his own passage under a false name - choosing by a quirk of humor to sail under the name Walter Dew, the name of a retired famous Scotland Yard Inspector. Alma, who fortunately resembles his wife, will sneak aboard and stand ready to take Lydia's place once Walter kills her and stuffs her through a convenient port hole. 

Things seem to have gone smoothly - Lydia is gone, Alma slips into her shoes, and Walter prepares to spend the voyage in the obscurity of second class. But then their plans fall apart ... a woman's body is spotted in the water, a couple of card-sharpers get involved, "Inspector Dew" is called upon to help the captain and his crew get to the bottom of things, and someone takes a potshot at the "detective" as he does his best to live up to his namesake's reputation. 

Lovesey provides plenty of twists and turns as it seems that few people on board the Cunard vessel are really who they seem to be. It will be a clever armchair detective, indeed, who anticipates the final twist. Lovesey expertly sets the reader up for certain scenarios and then, with a quick flick of the wrist changes things up in the most logical manner. 
Further reading suggestion:

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