Hushed in Death – An Inspector Lamb Mystery (Inspector Lamb Mysteries)
In 1942, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Lamb and his staff are at a run-down estate house that’s been converted for use as a sanatorium for soldiers suffering from what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder, then known as shell shock. The gardener’s body has been found floating in the pond not too far from the house. The chief inspector’s first decision is whether to send Detective Sergeant David Wallace into the cold pond to retrieve the body—because Wallace is still recovering from a gunshot wound, one that will leave him limping for the rest of his life. It’s complicated, because Lamb doesn’t want to offend his underling, in part because Lamb’s daughter, Vera, and Wallace are sweet on each other—lovers, in fact. Vera is Lamb’s driver, a position achieved through Lamb pulling some strings, which has left everyone feeling guilty. These are a few of the personal, background issues going on in this placidly paced country mystery. Bit by bit, more bodies turn up, some long dead and others making it clear that there’s a killer at work who needs to be stopped.
Although it’s the third in a series, Hushed in Death is easily read as a stand-alone. Or rather, it’s slowly read. Author Stephen Kelly does a great job of writing in the style of earlier decades, so be prepared to reduce speed and savor the detective at work, questioning suspects and not getting much in return. It’s a staid atmosphere, but there’s selfishness and schemes for revenge behind those stiff upper lips. I most enjoyed the novel’s eccentric characters, from the séance-sharing widow to the unsuccessful playwright and his pet ball python.