Sunday, July 16, 2017
The False Inspector Lovesey, by Andrew Taylor
This anthology is s festschrift, if I may get all librarian-y at you, a tribute by the Detection Club to Peter Lovesey on the occasion of his eightieth birthday.
My favorite Lovesey novel is Waxwork, the summit of his Victorian series about Sergeant Cribb. But my second favorite is The False Inspector Dew, about a mild-mannered man who decides to kill his wife and escape disguised as - why not? - the most famous police officer in Britain.
So as soon as I saw the title of this story I was prepared to enjoy it. I did.
It is England sometime after the war. 1950s, I think?
Our heroine is hired help (not a servant, she says firmly) for the rather dreadful Auntie Ag, who takes in boarders. Ag is not really her aunt because, well:
The only thing I know for certain about me is that my name is Margaret Rose, like the Queen's sister.
I know that because when they found me in the porch of St. John's Church I was wearing a luggage label attached to a piece of string around my neck, and the label said 'My name is Margaret Rose.'
So she has not had the easiest time. But Margaret Rose has dreams. To make them come true she will need to get to London. To get to London she will need money.
Enter the new boarder, Mr. P. Lovesey, with "a droopy face like Mrs. Conway-down-the-road's basset hound." He says he is a tax inspector, but Auntie Ag and Margaret Rose, both excellent snoopers, soon have reason to doubt that.
Everyone in this story has their own motives and their own schemes. But one of them also has a dream...
A worthy tribute to a master.