Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gently Go Man: Review

Gently Go Man by Alan Hunter is like way out there, man.  Like the mostest in the way of late 50s/very early 60s talk.  Like maybe too much mostest.  You dig me, man?

Okay, I can only do so much of that.  Seriously.  So...Gently Go Man was first published in 1961.  The teddy boys have given way to jeebies (don't ask me, I have no idea).  These are jazz-loving, motorcycle-riding teenagers who have had it with the adults and are looking for a way out of squaresville.  They find their way out through the kick of riding their motorcycles hard and fast and through the smoke of a stick (that's marijuana to you and me).

Johnny Lister is one of them--until the night he and his girl are riding hard down five miles of straight road with a dead tree at the end of it.  Initially, it looks like an accident--because one small mistake when you're clocking over a hundred is all it takes to end it.  But there are traces of another rider who may have run Lister off the road and someone stopped to check on the damage (but didn't report the wreck).  Superintendent George Gently of Scotland Yard is called in to try and trace the other rider.  And while he's at it, he'll trace a line back to the supplier of the sticks and break up a cozy little drug ring.

I must say that I am solidly lodged in squaresville.  I just don't dig this book, man.  It doesn't reach me.  And I have to say that if I didn't know that this was published in 1961 and so Hunter must have had a pretty good idea what the lingo of the day for teenagers was, I would think this was a very bad, over-the-top, stereotype of what the early 60s British teenager was like.  There are whole pages of dialogue that is nothing but jeebie slang.  And wading through that was pretty tedious.  The best part of all that was how Inspector Gently didn't let the jeebies get the best of him.  He rolled with it and gave as good as he got.  So--star points for Inspector Gently.

And the actual detective work to figure out who was behind the drug trade and the death of Johnny Lister? That was pretty decent as well.  Unfortunately, the story and the character of George Gently was nearly buried by the jive-talking jeebies.  One and a half stars (rounded to two on Goodreads).  Not the best of the Gently series.


As a side-note--while this is the 8th (or 9th, depending on which list you believe) of the Gently series, the plot is used as the pilot story for the Inspector Gently television series.  It is updated just a bit (to the mid-60s) and an extra plot line involving Gently's wife and a notorious mobster is added (to spice things up a bit?).

4 comments:

Peggy Ann said...

I have not read the books, Bev, but I did enjoy the TV series. Maybe I'll skip the books.

Bev Hankins said...

Peggy Ann: I read a couple of these before blogging days and really enjoyed them. That made me look for them whenever I was in used book shops. Since I started blogging, the ones I've read haven't been as good. I'm hoping for another good one...otherwise, I may just donate all I have to the library book sale. :-)

Steve Barge said...

Got one of thses on my shelf but never got round to mustering the energy to read it. Not sure I will now...

Bev Hankins said...

Steve--It's really weird. The first two that I read of these were really solid mysteries that I've enjoyed. I haven't had such good luck since then. I've got 3 or 4 more on the TBR shelves. I'm hoping I've gotten the stinkers out of the way....