Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Landed Gently: Alan Hunter

I read some of the George Gently books years ago, but all I remember is that the protagonist is a police inspector. Landed Gently is the fourth book in the series  and the only one that I have read recently. In this story, Chief Inspector Gently travels to Northshire to visit with Sir Daynes Broke, the Chief Constable, and enjoy some pike fishing over Christmas. Thus this book may not be entirely representative of the series.

Gently is visiting Sir Daynes for a vacation but of course he gets involved in a murder investigation. The second evening of his visit, Gently, Sir Daynes, and Lady Broke are invited to an informal party at Lord Somerhayes' home, Merely Hall. The next morning, one of Lord Somerhayes' guests is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Gently cannot officially investigate the crime, but as a guest of the Chief Constable, he tags along for a visit to the crime scene and takes part in some interviews with witnesses and suspects. Sir Daynes actually does not want to admit that it is a crime but Gently is sure that the death was not accidental.

This mystery novel had a large cast that confused me, with a lot of red herrings. But I found the hero, Inspector Gently, very charming and I liked that Gently is an outsider in this investigation. The author's writing pulled me into the story and I was very entertained. And it was set at Christmas.

The book is prefaced by an "EDUCATIONAL NOTE"
Those readers familiar with the glories of Holkham will be in no doubt as to the source of a number of architectural details distributed about this novel. Those who are not so familiar are recommended to close this book immediately and to hasten to repair an education so gravely defective. It should not be necessary to add, but I do so out of courtesy, that the characters in the book, unlike the architecture, are wholly fictitious, and have existed nowhere except in the mind of 
Sincerely yours, Alan Hunter
And this description of the start of Gently's trip. Sergeant Dutt takes Chief Inspector Gently to the station. He is initially reluctant to go away at Christmas, but it is hard to refuse the invitation of a Chief Constable...
In spite of himself, Gently couldn't help feeling a mild thrill of excitement as he and Dutt, laden with luggage and the precious pike-rod, plunged into the icy pandemonium of Liverpool Street Station. So many people going home – going home for Christmas! There were queues at every platform and every ticket window, surging crowds of people, burdened, like himself, with suitcases, parcels, Christmas trees, everything under the sun. How could one fail to catch the spirit?
Here is some information about Alan Hunter and this series from Unbound -- UEA Archives Blog:
Written between 1955-1999, Hunter completed 46 novels across 45 years with punning titles like Gently Does It, Gently by the Shore, Gently Down the Stream, Gently Continental, Gently with the Ladies and so on. The popular BBC One television series George Gently and later Inspector George Gently were loosely based on Hunter’s novels.
...  ...
From Diss to Dunwich, Bury St Edmunds to the Broads, Gently found himself in locations across East Anglia and sometimes in London, Scotland and even Wiltshire. This is in contrast to the televised series which places Gently in Northumberland and Durham.
See Katrina's review at Pining for the West.

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Publisher: Dell, 1982 (first publ. 1957)
Length:    224 pages
Format:    Paperback
Series:     George Gently
Setting:    UK 
Genre:     Police procedural



18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention. I had never read any of these books before but will read more as like you I found Gently's character charming.

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    1. I don't run into books by this author here at all, Katrina, but I will start searching them out. I would especially like to see how the series changes over the decades.

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  2. Thanks for the reminder of George Gently, Tracy. I admit, I'm much more familiar with his character from TV than from the books. But I like Gently, and I really should get into those books more than I have.

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    1. I do like the TV series also, Margot. We have only watched a few of them and plan to watch all of them eventually. I don't think the George Gently of the TV show is much like the one in the books, but I can enjoy both of them.

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  3. Oooooh, I've never read one of these, Tracy. And this one sounds like just my thing. Going to get a copy. Thanks for the intro!

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    1. I do hope you like it, Yvette. I do like a country house mystery mixed with a police procedural, sort of, so it was perfect for me.

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  4. Tracy, I was lucky enough to find a handful of Gently books at a book fair a couple of years back. Haven't started them but your interesting review makes me want to pick up one. Thanks.

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    1. That is good, neer, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the books. I am sure the series changes some through the years.

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  5. When they started adapting these for TV I got interested again but the version with martin Shaw are only loosely connected to the books. I should try again with the originals by the sound of it - thanks Tracy :)

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    1. Especially after reading this book, Sergio, I realized how different they interpreted George Gently in the TV series. But I do like how the TV series is set in the 60s or 70s (can't remember) and I do like Martin Shaw. We have watched the first three episodes, I think.

      Based on reviews I saw of various Gently books, not everyone likes them as well as I liked this one, but I think that they are well worth trying.

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  6. A mystery set at Christmas, thanks for the review, Tracy. I've been kind of half looking for one myself to read this holiday so will keep this one in mind (will see if it's easily accessible). --Keishon

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    1. I haven't found a lot of the books by this authors, Keishon, and I had this one a long time and don't know how I found it. So I hope you have luck finding it.

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  7. I have watched quite a bit of the series but this is the only one of the books I've read. This Gently is quite a bit different from the TV show. I recall enjoying the book, but I can now only recall a single incident, a chase on the roof of the great house.

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    1. Graham, I had forgotten that scene on the roof. (I forget plots fairly quickly nowadays.) What was most memorable to me about the plot of this book was that Lord Somerhayes sponsored a tapestry weaving workshop at his home, something I did not even get into in this post.

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  8. The name "Gently" grates on me in this context, Tracy. Either too ironic or too tender (uncoplike). I wonder how Hilda Lawrence would treat him in her novels.

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    1. I never thought about that, Mathew. Inspector Gently is definitely not tender. I have no direct experience with Hilda Lawrence, only have read about her books.

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  9. When I discovered the TV series after managing to be totally oblivious to it for a number of years, I mentioned that I had never seen any of his books anywhere. I subsequently found one! If I ever get around to reading it, I'll be curious to see just how different the series is from the book.

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    1. Col, we did not start watching the TV series until I saw that you had watched some and liked them. So I am grateful to you for introducing them to us, we like them a lot.

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