The False Inspector Dewby Peter Lovesey
The year is 1921. A passionate affair between voracious romance reader Alma Webster and her dentist, Walter Baranov, has led to his wife’s murder. The lovers take flight aboard the Mauretania and the dentist takes the name of Inspector Dew, the detective who arrested the notorious wifekiller Dr. Crippen. But, in a disquieting twist, a murder occurs aboard/i>… See more details below
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The year is 1921. A passionate affair between voracious romance reader Alma Webster and her dentist, Walter Baranov, has led to his wife’s murder. The lovers take flight aboard the Mauretania and the dentist takes the name of Inspector Dew, the detective who arrested the notorious wifekiller Dr. Crippen. But, in a disquieting twist, a murder occurs aboard ship and the captain invites “Inspector Dew” to investigate.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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“An airy, intricate maze of criminal secrets and switched identities . . . aboard a luxury ocean liner crossing the Atlantic circa 1921.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“The sort of book that ought to be a bestseller and deserves to be.”
“Absolutely riveting . . . A masterpiece. I defy anyone to foresee the outcome.”
“Oh what a lovely crime this is.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Brilliant . . . Stunning.”
“An extraordinarily clever, fascinating novel . . . Compulsively readable.”
—The Week, Best Books
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Read an Excerpt
SS MAURETANIA. 9 SEPT 1921.
REFERENCE SUSPICIOUS DEATH ON BOARD HAVE
INVITED CHIEF INSPECTOR DEW OF SCOTLAND
YARD TO INVESTIGATE.
A. H. ROSTRON, CAPTAIN.
Chief Inspector Dew. The Commissioner remembered Dew.He was the man who had pulled in Dr Crippen. That was backin 1910. He was damned sure Dew had quit the force the sameyear.
He picked up a pencil. Under the message he wrote:
What's this tomfoolery? Comedians are your department.
Smiling to himself, he addressed it to his deputy.
The Deputy Commissioner was at Waterloo that day withCharlie Chaplin. Two hundred constables with arms linkedwere standing in support. Chaplin had come back to Londonafter nine years in America. He had gone there as a member ofthe Karno troupe of music hall comedians. He was returning asone of the world's most famous men. Thousands had gathered atthe station.
When the train steamed in, the Deputy Commissioner and hissenior men raced towards the compartment reserved forChaplin. They seized him like a prisoner and hustled him alongthe platform. Beyond the barrier where the crowd was waiting,the blue line stood firm. Chaplin was funneled into a waitinglimousine. Few people saw him.
The Deputy Commissioner in a police car drove aheadtowards the Ritz Hotel. In Piccadilly it was like Armistice Dayagain. They took the back way through St James's intoArlington Street.
Chaplin and a cousin sat white-faced in theLanchester, thedoors locked and the windows up. Grinning faces pressedagainst the glass. The cars inched forward. More policematerialised. Chaplin was ordered out. They had reached theRitz side entrance. He refused to use it. He was home intriumph. As a lowly music hall performer, he had oftendreamed of staying at the Ritz. The crowd had come to see himtake his place among the rich and famous, the little trampamong the toffs. He announced that he would enter at the front.
The cars edged into Piccadilly. Chaplin got out and stoodwaving on the running-board. The people surged towards him.The Deputy Commissioner was in despair. By some amazinggift of character or training, Chaplin controlled his public. Hemade a simple speech. They listened solemnly. They cheered.They let him go inside. But they would not disperse. A doubleline of traffic stood from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus.Chaplin was in the Regal Suite. He had the windows opened. Hegathered the carnations from a vase and threw them to thecrowd. It was hours before the police could be withdrawn.
Late that night, the Deputy Commissioner came back toScotland Yard. He had to clear his desk. He was hungry and hisfeet ached. He went swiftly through his correspondence. He readthe wireless message and the Commissioner's droll comment:Comedians are your department. He did not smile.
Walter Dew was vivid in his memory. It was his opinion thatDew was not a great detective, despite his reputation. He hadbeen careless over evidence. He had been far too tender-hearted.He had betrayed a lot of sympathy for the murderer Crippen.He had been lucky to convict him and he knew it. On the daythat the appeal was lost, Walter Dew had left the force. He wasonly in his forties at the time. The Deputy Commissioner hadnever seen a man so glad to take his pension. Dew had gone tolive in Worthing, on the coast. It was strange that he should turnup on an ocean liner, offering to assist with an investigation.
But Dew was an enigma. And at sea, the captain's word waslaw. It would be interesting to see if Chief Inspector Dew wasequal to his legend.
What could Scotland Yard do now, except take note?
The Deputy Commissioner ticked the message, tossed it in atray, dismissed it from his mind and went to find a taxi.
Next day a clerk consigned the message to a box-file.
Excerpted from The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey. Copyright © 1982 by Peter Lovesey Limited. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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