Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Plain Sailing: Review

Detective Superintendent George Masters and DCI Bill Green of Scotland Yard are off to a small seaside town near Durham expecting to enjoy a well-deserved holiday with their wives. But true to detective fiction standards (busman's holiday and all that)--after enjoying a few days of pure holiday they are called upon to investigate the sudden death of an Essex police colleague's son. This is more than just a murder of one of their own's own as it were. Masters and his team had worked closely with DCI Matthew Cleveland on a case the previous this one is even more personal.

Cleveland's son James was at the seaside resort to take part in a week of sailboat racing and collapsed while more than two miles out to sea. The difficulty with the investigation is that James was poisoned--and with such a fast-acting agent that he must have swallowed or come in contact with it mere minutes before the collapse. The obvious suspect is the other man in the boat...the only one close enough to James during the relevant time period. But Masters and Green know better than to settle for obvious, especially when the obvious just doesn't seem to fit.

Their investigations lead them to an examination of the other members of the sailing circle and soon everyone on the team from assistants, Detective Sergeants Tippen and Berger, to their own wives are ferreting out motives for murder. But whose murder? And the question that remains even after the motive and intended victim are sorted was the poison administered? Once Masters and Green figure that out all that remains is to set a trap to catch the poisoner.

Even twenty-six stories into the Masters and Green series, Douglas Clark manages to serve up a darn good police procedural. The focus this time, as mentioned, is on how. Not that the who and why are so very obvious--but the real puzzle at the end of the day is how was James Cleveland poisoned? He didn't eat or drink anything directly before the collapse and tests show that the poison was ingested. It takes some pretty careful observation on George Masters' part to find the solution. 

As I've mentioned before, I always enjoy the camaraderie and rapport of Masters' team. Even though younger member come and go (as they receive well-earned promotions), each new member fits in well without being a cookie-cutter underling just filling in a position. Each character is well-defined and brings something different to the mix. It was also nice to see the wives doing a bit of undercover work--even though Wanda Masters insists that she won't "spy" on these people. What Masters wants is her and Doris Green's impressions--just a general feel of the climate amongst the racing crown. And those impressions prove very useful as well. ★★★ and 3/4 stars

This fulfills the "Involves Water" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card. (I'm zeroing in on my first Silver Bingo....)


fredamans said...

Seems like it always has to be a mystery taking the husbands from their wives right after leaving for holiday. And generally right after.... lol... this books feel cliché from the start. :-)
Great review!

Bev Hankins said...

But a fun cliché!

jmisgro said...

Sounds like another good one!!