Monday, May 2, 2016

John Rowland, Calamity in Kent

John Rowland, Calamity in Kent
The British Library Publishing Division (April 10, 2016)

ISBN:  978-0712357838
Also available as an ebook

Jimmy London, a reporter, is recuperating from (unspecified) surgery in a resort town in Kent.  On his early morning walk, he encounters the lift-keeper (of the "lift", or cliff railway, that transports people from the town down to the beach, or up), who has discovered a body in the locked facility.  Inspector Shelley of Scotland Yard happens to be vacationing in the town, and takes over the investigation from the local detective, Inspector Beech, and, for no good reason, enlists London as his unofficial assistant. 

To call the pace of this book "leisurely" would be to understate the matter.  It drags.  London--who narrates the story--seems to have to say everything that occurs to himself at least twice.  Shelley is a bad caricature of a Scotland Yard detective.  And at about the 260-page mark, Rowland apparently realizes he has to wrap things up, and he does in about 5 pages...with the world's worst explanation for a "locked room" mystery (but which was fairly obvious by about page 40).  I have another book by Rowland, but unless it is markedly better than this one, there won't be a third.  (A volume in the British Library Crime Classics series.)

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