The False Inspector Dew

Written by Peter Lovesey
Review by Tess Allegra

Mystery fans who enjoy a good plot and 1920s ambiance should dip into this seafaring tale of murder for which Lovesey won the CWA (Crime Writers of America) Golden Dagger Award. Lovesey’s tale parallels the famous 1910 murder case in which American dentist Dr. Crippen plotted with his mistress to murder his wife and escape by ship on the S.S. Mauritania. The guilty couple were apprehended at sea by Scotland Yard Inspector Walter Dew, who retired soon after.

It is 1921 and British dentist Walter Baranov tells his new patient, Alma Webster, the Crippen story to pass time. Alma, a romance junkie, knows she was sent to help this misunderstood man find the love of his life: herself.

Momentarily devastated to learn Walter has a wife but sensing his discontent, Alma sets out to free him. The spineless dentist soon finds himself scheming with Alma à la Dr. Crippen, adopting the pseudonym of “Walter Dew” when he and Alma book passage for their own sea escape. In an ironic but expected twist, the ship’s captain enlists Walter to investigate the murder, thinking the false Inspector Dew is the retired hero. A convoluted beginning of the novel soon has the reader on a voyage that seems at times familiar, at times a little bit strange, ending with a very surprise twist. Lovesey is a storyteller who never fails to entertain.