In the spring of 1942, with the war in Europe raging, a gruesome murder shocks the rural community of Marbury, where a once-grand estate called Elton House has been transformed into a hospital for “shell-shocked” officers sent back from the front lines. When Detective Chief Inspector Lamb arrives to solve the case, he quickly learns that the victim, Elton House's gardener Joseph Lee, had plenty of enemies in Marbury—and so he and his team have plenty of suspects.
Along with his team of investigators, which includes his daughter Vera, Lamb begins to untangle the threads of rivalry and deceit that lie beneath the surface of the seemingly-peaceful countryside village. It soon becomes clear that Lee’s mysterious past is intertwined with the history of Elton House itself, which fell into disrepair a generation earlier after a shockingly similar murder, and the mystery deepens further when Lamb discovers that one of the prime suspects has seemingly committed suicide.
As Lamb pieces together the connections between the crimes of the present and those of the past, he must dive into the darkest, most secret corners of Elton House to discover who is committing murder, and why.
I've always loved reading good mystery novels, especially those from the English masters -- Conan Doyle, Dame Agatha, Colin Dexter, Peter Robinson and others. I'm also a huge fan of the Norwegian crime novelist, Karin Fossum. Before turning to writing fiction with a vengeance, though, I was, for nearly thirty years, a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist. My work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, The Columbia Flier and Howard County Times. I have a Master's from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and have taught writing and journalism at Hopkins, Towson University, in Baltimore, and Sweet Briar College, in Virginia. I live in Columbia, Maryland, with my wife, Cindy, and our daughters, Anna and Lauren. We'd love to have a cat -- we love cats -- but we can't because Anna and I are allergic. So it goes.
The gardener of a asylum for shell-shocked soldiers is found murdered, and Inspector Lamb investigates, with the help of a team that includes his daughter as chauffer, and her significant other, Lamb's second in command. Although the setting is World War II, Lamb must go deeper into the past to find the motivation for the crime, as a local artist, the psychiatrist in charge of the asylum, one of his patients, and the local publican all play a part. This is less a police procedural than an atmospheric piece with many threads of criminality and psychological connections.
Inspector Lamb sets out to solve a murder. His daughter is a constable, serving as his driver, and helps the others with the investigation. The present murder seems connected to one the took place aboard a ship. The writing is weak. The sense of time and place lacks development. The character development is strong on most major characters but not quite to the level it needs to be on a few. I received an advance electronic galley from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
I so wanted to love this third book in the Inspector Lamb Mystery Series. The setting and time period — rural England during 1942 — drew me, but there were too many plot convolutions and undeveloped characters. 3 of 5 Stars
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. Pub Date 06 Nov 2018. #HushedInDeath #NetGalley.
The third DCI Thomas Lamb book, set in 1942 England, finds the inspector investigating the murder of Joseph Lee. Lee was the caretaker at Elton House, a manor house now converted to an experimental private clinic dedicated to treating English military personnel suffering from shell shock. As in the first two entries in the series, The Language of the Dead and The Wages of Desire, Lamb is assisted in his investigations by his daughter Vera, her romantic interest DS David Wallace and Harry Rivers, a WWI veteran who served in the army with Lamb. In the course of investigating the Lee murder, Lamb & Co. find that Elton House was the scene of an older murder and that the staff and patients of the current clinic may be involved in the black market trade of stolen American lend-lease goods. The plot of the book follows the investigation as Lamb and his team investigate possible links between the current and older murders and try to sort out the roles played by a local artist, a tavern keeper and his daughter, a local writer and various clinic staff members and patients in crimes past and present. Personal threads emerging in the earlier two books are explored further in this book, in particular the relationships of Lamb’s daughter Vera with her father and potential fiancée David Wallace. Vera is feeling trapped by the professional and personal roles she has fallen into begins to push back. As in the previous two books, Kelly addresses personal issues in a naturalistic fashion, portraying characters with problems to solve who attempt to solve them and do or don’t according to their characters. Although Lamb suffers emotionally from his WWI experiences and Wallace from the effects of bullet wound, the author does not artificially balloon these difficulties into reams of soap opera-like phony angst that throws chunks of cholesterol into the arteries of the story. There are multiple crimes and multiple culprits spread over a lengthy period of time, but the author manages to sort it all out with skillful plotting and believable characters. Suspense is maintained throughout with the crime and its perpetrators (and not the good guys) being the main focus of the story, which is how I prefer my crime fiction.
Crimes like murder, extortion, and blackmail don't take a break during wartime. Of course, police on the home front are often short-staffed as war often turns policemen into soldiers. In American author Stephen Kelly's "Hushed in Death", the third book in his Inspector Thomas Lamb series, Lamb and his men become involved in a very complicated plot, set in 1941, beginning with a simple murder.
Lamb is a Chief Inspector in southern England, based in Winchester. A man is found dead in a pond and Lamb is called in to investigate. The pond is on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital, Elton House, treating solders stricken with shell shock. At this point, military and civilian doctors are beginning to rethink "shell shock"; eventually evolving into PTSD. Now, the hospital is an old estate with a history; murders have occurred on the ground. Also, everyone involved from medical staff to civilians is hiding a secret from the past. Those secrets, when revealed, add up to the plot of "Hushed in Death".
Stephen Kelly is a good writer. The plot to the book is somewhat convoluted, but as with many mysteries, the important part of the book are the characters and how the times are explored and used. Lamb has a family - a wife and daughter - and the daughter is at sixes-and-sevens about her future and her responsibilities to war-time England. I hope there will be a fourth-in-the-series.
As the robots on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," might say. "This is like "Foyle's War." But it isn't very good."
The characters here have different relationships, but what you still have is a police inspector, his female driver, and a wounded policeman. There is nothing new here, nothing fresh, and Kelly doesn't have a feel for 1940s language. Go watch "Foyle's War" instead--watch it again if you have already seen it. Read Jacqueline Winspear's "Maisie Dobbs" books--Maisie annoys me, but Winspear gets period language and culture right.
And now I know why my library--and most of the others around us--didn't have the first or second books in this series. It's just not very good.
Way under the level of the first two books. Needn't have been set in WWII, never reallly plays a part in the story. Could have been set in any time. Not all that interesting of a story as well. Probably won't continue the series.
In the village of Marbury, near HQ in Winchester, DCI Lamb and his team are brought to the body of a gardener, Joseph Lee, floating in the pond at the Elton House Sanatorium, a retreat for treatment of men with combat trauma. The year is 1942. The investigation into the murder takes the case back to the murder of Lord Hanry Elton by his wife, who was acquitted, 25 years ago though clearly was she was guilty. She leaves the community and travels to Malta where she marries a wealthy older man, Berkshire, whom she also kills, for his money. On her return to England in 1922 she is thrown from the ship Algiers, by Alan Fox. Her son gets adopted, but is still in contact with Catherine's sister who is now a nurse at the facility, Murse Matilda Stevens. She is plotting to kill the son, who has combat trauma and is at the Sanatorium, Lt James Travers. In the current case the old one rears its head and other members of the village, specifically Alan Fox, an artist who had been involved with Catherine 25 years earlier, are part of the numberable suspects. Fox had had an argument with Horace Hitchens, over the pregnancy of his daughter Theresa by Fox, who subsequently gets an illegal abortion by Dr. Hornby who runs the sanatorium.
It is a complicated plot with surprise relationships and elements. And it seems no one, even the most compassionate of individuals is completely innocent. Woven into the story is a subplot of the smuggling of supplies coming into the UK as US Army lend-lease goods, meant for the troops, but showing up at the sanatorium, which turns out to have secret tunnels that are being used for the criminal activity. Over and over the crimes are perpetrated for money, generally inheritance from one individual or another leading to the murders.
I like the characters and their development and issues. Vera, Lamb's daughter struggles with her feelings of needing to do something more important in the war, and the nepotism her father has created in hiring her as his driver. She also a conflict with her relationship with DS Wallace, who is ready to get married, and to prove himself still fit for the police. It is indeed disappointing that there are so few of this series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The discovery of a body floating in a pond brings DCI Thomas Lamb and his team to Elton House, a mansion transformed to a recuperative center for "shell-shocked" soldiers during World War 2. Lamb soon learns Joseph Lee, the house gardener, was not a well-liked man and there are a few too many with a motive for wanting him dead. Among the suspects is Alan Fox, an artist with a prickly temper who'd earlier brawled with Lee after an argument over the daughter of the local publican. Lamb has barely looked into this matter when his daughter and driver Vera uncovers a clue to possible black-marketing of American lend-lease goods at Elton House. Lamb, who had himself suffered in the trenches in World War 1, is not lacking in compassion for the troops being treated at the facility, but he can't allow that to interfere with his investigation. Efforts to discuss the smuggling theory are thwarted by the absence of Dr. Hornby, the director, and denials by Head Nurse Stevens. Digging deeper, Lamb uncovers links to another murder with similar aspects decades earlier on the same property. Is there a connection between the two cases? For those who've read the previous two books in the series, the development of the primary characters is well-done. For those who haven't read the earlier books, there's enough biography to bring a reader up to speed. There are also a few more eccentric characters--a widow who believes she can communicate with the dead and a failed playwright with a pet snake--adding colour to the cast. Kelly has crafted a complicated plot and I enjoyed the way he brought the aspects together. I can't say I liked this third novel as much as I did the first two. But there were enough elements to assure I'll be looking forward to a fourth installment.
I'm still in summer-reading mode, so want something that I can just sort of settle into and not think about too much. I read the previous two books already this summer and liked them well enough. This one was fine--lots of plot twists like the previous two books.
I love British mysteries and read a lot of them. Classic authors such as Sayers, Tey, Allingham, and Christie as well as contemporary authors such as Crombie, Hill, Graham, McGown, and Robinson. There has always been something about this Lamb series that just didn't ring true; I thought it was that he didn't capture the WW2 timeline right, but now I see that he's not British. He's a former journalist who lives in Maryland. It doesn't even appear that he has LIVED in England at all.
To me, that explains the stodginess of his writing. It's just absolutely prosaic with very few turns of phrase and little flair. He also has a tendency at the end of the books to just throw all the explanations in at the end like a magician who has run out of tricks and has to tell how it's done rather than actually performing the trick until the end. Lastly, the author has a tendency to grab onto one British term and use it over and over again. In one book it was "fag" for cigarette; in this book it was "the nick" for the police office/jail. Every time he mentioned going to his office or taking someone in, it was to "the nick"-- you just don't see in "real" British mystery novels. You also don't see British men of that time talking about their service in WW1.
So read the series if you like rather complicated mysteries with lots of twists and turns but don't prepare to be dazzled. I like the main character and the plots are fun but this series is not as good as others I follow.
The third in this particular series, but the first I've read. I like British mysteries and police procedurals as well, so this ticked those two boxes. It was set in Hampshire (where I live) during WW II but there is only a little reference to it in respect of the year (1942), that there was an air raid over Southampton towards the end, and some references to ex-soldiers in a sanitorium and the main characters' roles in WWI.
It moved along quite steadily and was easy to engage with, although I found myself a little distracted by the writing at a couple of points. Towards the end, there was Lamb doing this, then what Rivers is thinking and planning out, then on to Wallace and back to Lamb, before whizzing off to the murderer's thoughts. It jarred me away from the main point (capture of murderer) and flow of the story, and the action because I had to pause momentarily to figure out what was going on. Convenient suspicions also arose which were...well, convenient, to the story, and ultimately led to yet another murderer.
But overall I enjoyed it. I wasn't wholly invested in the characters simply because I don't know them well, but it was easy enough to figure it all out and a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the ARC to read and review. All opinions are strictly my own.
How do I describe this straight-forward police procedural? The only word that comes to mind is "workmanlike." A team of investigators led by Chief Inspector Lamb arrive at the scene of a drowning on an old estate now housing World War II shell-shock victims. The investigation reveals connections between the murdered man, villagers in nearby Marbury, and a possible black market scheme involving stolen lend-lease supplies from the U.S. The characters are equally straight-forward. There are no eccentric characters, just ordinary folk. A similar murder is revealed to have occurred years ago involving the lord and lady who once owned the estate. We meet the investigators and learn a little about their personal lives. None are so engaging that this reader felt any urgent need to learn more, or care about their future activities. The biggest complaint I have is that much of the back story of the murderer and motives is revealed in the last chapters as a confession--the "tell-not-show" form of mystery. I like a mystery where I can at least have a stab at guessing the identity of the killer, based on clues throughout the story; here, even the investigators did little digging into the backgrounds of suspects to point C.I. Lamb and company int the right direction. Yes. Workmanlike.
Hushed in Death is an old-fashioned country mystery featuring a bunch of likeable policeman and quirky villagers and of course a bunch of up-to-no-gooders, one or more of which might be involved not only with the murders but a range of other sinister onfoings. The whole setting is reminiscent of Agatha Christie and it happily plods along. We’ve got a few murders, a lot of detecting without the help of any technology, , and a lot of turns and coincidences, secrets from the past and family scandals that in the end stack up neatly to get the culprits what they deserve. I really enjoyed this one - it is exactly what it says on the tin, maybe not the most original or shocking of all murder mysteries out there, but a comfortable and entertaining read. After a couple of emotionally very draining books I’ve read recently I was in the mood for something light and easy and this was the perfect palate cleanser. It was the first DI Lamb book I picked up, but I shall certainly get the others now.
It starts off with an incredibly spartan style of storytelling, and as a result if felt like I was reading a court transcript in the early going. Luckily, with the arrival of a few more characters and the expansion to other locations, this murder mystery picked up considerably. It feels very much like a prose adaptation of any number of British television mystery shows; that's definitely not a criticism, but I would have loved to have had more characters such as starving writer/snake owner Brandt.
Obviously editing is, regrettably, a thing of the past.
Numerous grammatical errors, like literary hiccups throughout, making for an annoying read.
Other poorly written/edited things such as describing a woman bearing a man three children - three daughters and a son (math anyone?) - along with in once instance describing a child being two years old, only to have the same individual be three years old in that same, recounted instance.
The story line was engaging, but oh my, the poor writing/editing took its toll.
I do like this series, the way that the feelings and small dramas among the police officers (particularly the father-daughter relationship) are drawn alongside the central mystery. This book was a bit slower, maybe not quite as compelling as the others in this series— in places the writing seemed a bit like it was veering towards telling rather than showing. And I did figure out some of the mystery. But still a fan of the characters and the series.
The third book in the Inspector Lamb series brings a previous death (murder?) into the present. The Inspector has to solve a current murder in order to determine what happened in the past. The development of the characters is increasing and we find out more about the Inspector, his daughter and his team of investigators. I've enjoyed this series so far and hopefully there will be more.
Intricate plotting similar to 2 earlier works but this one seemed even more rushed at the end -- too much after-the-fact and in the last chapter explication of history and relationships - but characters still interesting, although there is a clear distinction between the "good" and "bad" guys, with the "bad" guys having little in the way of complex or redeeming qualities
The beginning of the book reminded me of Foyle's War. The story is set in World War II and how life in England remains the same with murder and crime even though the nation is under siege. It was an interesting read.
I have enjoyed all 3 books in this series and wish that there were more to follow. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be the case. Hopefully, Mr. Kelly will be writing other novels in the future. I would put these books on par with Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George & Charles Todd.
Where to start? Obviously an American attempting to write British characters, and not doing it very well. Lots of repetition. And did I mention the repetition? Poor editing left glaring mistakes, like the family that had three children—three daughters and a son. 🤦🏼♀️
The writing was....blah. Prosaic. Uninspired. Deathly dull, even. Knowing that they took their pints of ale and cheese and pickle sandwiches to eat at a table really moved that plot forward.
I would have DNF’d it but had done that with the book just prior to this one. Don’t want to be a quitter, you know. I so very much wanted to like it as the setting is squarely in my wheelhouse, but I just couldn’t. In addition to the above, the baddie’s backstory was ridiculous and she and her sister were almost caricatures. ‘And then she killed him, too, which is no surprise since she killed her parents as well.’ ¡Ay Dios mío! Is there anyone she didn’t kill? The milkman, perhaps? I have read that the first two in the series are better than this one, but then, the bar is set pretty low.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.