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Surfeit of Suspects

(Chief Inspector Littlejohn #41)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Following a mysterious explosion, the offices of Excelsior Joinery Company are no more; the 3 directors are killed and the peace of a quiet town in Surrey lies in ruins. When the supposed cause of ignited gas leak is dismissed and the presence of dynamite revealed, Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is summoned to the scene.

But beneath the sleepy veneer of Evingden
Paperback, British Library Crime Classics, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2019 by The British Library (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Stephen Robert Collins
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When finally find out what real twisted plot is you be supprise, I found it different from Bellairs other books which just goes to show what blood good writer he was.
Set in the early 60s of when had Steptoe on the TV this has all feel of old ladies from Arsnic and old lace than the Beatles. Gas lights and dynamite with the modern growth of new towns. It has the rich hummer with puns in it a true classic crime.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, 2019
Big bang...

A huge explosion destroys the offices of the Excelsior Joinery Company, and kills three directors of the company who were there having a meeting at the time. When it turns out that the cause of the explosion was dynamite, the local police call in Scotland Yard to investigate. Enter Inspector Littlejohn...

It soon becomes apparent that the Excelsior was in deep financial trouble and bankruptcy was waiting impatiently in the wings. Could the crime have been an elaborate insurance job? As
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-classic
I loved Bellairs' writing style. It is breezy and light with lots of dry humor. His characterizations are concise and complete; I felt I knew even the most minor players. Good plot as Bellairs uses his banking background. ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an entertaining and enjoyable read. (Almost all of Littlejohn ones are!!) I felt the story was a tad dragged when it came to banking and fraud and all. It was good to see Cromwell, who is now an Inspector, do some excellent sleuthing. The ending was slightly different from the way I expected it to be but that's okay. I recommend this book to all crime and mystery lovers, and especially to those who are Littlejohn fans! ...more
Adam Carson
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still cogitating over my thoughts on this one, but I’d give it somewhere between a 3 and a 4 star.

It’s a very different kind of Bellairs - an explosion killing 3 company directors, a myriad of (slightly confusing) financial shenanigans, corrupt town officials and some stolen dynamite, all investigated by Superintendent Littlejohn.

Written in the 60s, this is a clearly more modern whodunnit. It’s certainly not the closed circle crime read of the 30S. Overall I enjoyed, but it wasn’t what I was ex
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
A solid mystery that shows Bellairs knowledge of banking and corporation practices. Not as funny as some of his stories but the people are quite as nasty either.
Janet Emson
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, owned-books
There has been an explosion in a joinery factory and Inspector Littlejohn and his colleague Cromwell find themselves overrun with suspects.

All of the suspects are not particularly likeable and all have possible motives for blowing up the factory, and killing three people in the process. There’s the wronged husband, the pugnacious father-in-law and the disgruntled business associate. The trouble is not finding out who had a motive, but narrowing down those that did.

This was the first Inspector Li
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, fiction, mystery
A good solid whodunit from the 1960s.
Vic Lauterbach
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another carefully written police procedural that delivers the goods. In the 41st Littlejohn book, our protagonist is a now a Detective Superintendent. He remains as calm, dogged and unflappable as ever. Bellairs hadn't lost his touch after twenty plus years of writing these stories. Although the 'present day' setting is now London in 1965, the passage of time is barely perceptible compared with books #4 and #5 that I just read. A couple Teddy Boys references instead of war references are ...more
Jacqueline Vick
Author George Bellairs does something that many books on the craft of writing would frown at, and that is to go into even minor character's heads for a brief time. I find it delightful, because this tactic gives a rounded out picture of a character who might otherwise have been a name on the page. The waitress. The postman. Instead, Bellairs makes sure the reader has been properly introduced and even gives a peek at what happens after these characters leave the page. This technique gives the fee ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the later Inspector Littlejohn investigations, dating from 1964.

Generally, I find these later works are not as strong as those from the '40s and '50s and this proved to be no exception. Often, too, the novels set solely in England, as this is, with no forays to France or the Isle of Man, are less interesting.

Bellairs here is in familiar territory with the plot encompassing corruption in local government, shady business practices, and a dodgy bank manager.

The book starts with a ban
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too many suspects emerge when an explosion rocks a new town. Is it love, money or jealousy that gives motives to a number of people who may or may not be involved in the death of three men, all directors of the Excelsior Joinery Company. In this 1964 novel reprinted by the British Library in their Crime Classics series, George Bellairs (in real life a bank manager called Harold Blundell) brings back his detective Thomas Littlejohn. Sent from Scotland Yard with his trusty sidekick Inspector Cromw ...more
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bellairs is excellent at setting the tone for his mysteries with his descriptions of surroundings and characters, and this story is another great example. Bellairs takes advantage of a social aspect of life in postwar Britain, overcrowding and a growing housing problem. To alleviate these issues, Parliament passed Acts in 1946 and 1952 providing for the development of “new towns”. New towns were sometimes build around, or tacked onto, existing small towns or villages, changing their culture and ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Rating between 3 & 3.5

A new author for me despite having seen his name in articles, reviews and of course the publishing schedule for the British Library series. Possibly a bit late in the day to be starting a series at book number 41 but availability must I suppose.

This book was a very easy read, quite entertaining and well written. The author set up the plot very well I thought, and all of the characters and localities were well drawn. Despite it being set in the year of publication (1964 I th
Linda Steiger
Quick read; tangled plot, but well done. Opens with an explosion at the Excelsior Joinery Company, a small town family operation in Surrey. The town consists of an old village with a new town on its edge, making for planning possibilities only minorly taken up. Anyway the explosion kills three of the for company directors. At first thought to be a gas explosion, later clarified as dynamite. A group of detectives, local and Scotland Yard take up the quest for the perpetrator and the reason. As on ...more
John Frankham
Certainly not one of the better Inspector Littlejohn whodunnits, possibly because the audio narrrtion by David Thorpe was so affected and hammy.

The GR blurb:

‘ At 8 o’clock in the evening on the 8th November, there was a terrific explosion in Green Lane, Evingden.’
The offices of the Excelsior Joinery Company have been blown to smithereens and three of the company directors lie dead amongst the rubble. When the presence of dynamite is revealed, Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is summo
Laurence Giliotti
I did not find this later addition Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs (published in 1964) to the Inspector Littlejohn series to be as satisfying as the earlier novels. This edition was published by Poisoned Pen Press as part of the British Library Crime Classics, a hit or miss undertaking for my taste. However, I am always attracted to the cover art that uses old British railway posters...Book by its cover...
Just as a note to readers: Bellairs along with Nicholas Rhea, Michael Innes, Margery Allingham, Hilda Lawrence and oth
Linda Brue
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, owned
SURFEIT OF SUSPECTS, George Bellairs, 2019
One of the British Library of Crime Classics, this originally was published in 1964. It starts with an introduction by Martin Edwards. The story itself starts with a literal BANG! as the offices of a Joinery company are blown sky-high, killing 3 of the directors of the company in the process. The directors were having a secret meeting, and the original thought that the explosion was caused by a gas leak is quickly proved wrong when dynamite is found and
The author uses his banking day job knowledge in this mystery that requires a forensic accounting trail as well as unravelling human relationships. There is a relentlessness to the narrative, as I am sure there is to detection. Bellairs manages the detail well and my interest and empathy for the detectives didn’t waver.

There was, however, sketchiness in the numerous minor characters (including a couple of those murdered). They were, for the main part, extras, without distinguishing characterist
Eva Müller
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This book actually had an interesting plot. I was really curious about whodunnit even though it was obvious quite quickly that the case involved financial fraud which I usually care not as much about.

But...except for Inspector Littlejohn and Sargent Cromwell, all the characters were exaggerated caricatures. Vain and vapid women who didn't care for their stupid husbands, bullies, old ladies who are delighted that Scotland Yard is calling because they love mysteries...none of them felt like a real
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, kindle
Kindle Deal | Deeply boring | With all the murder victims dead before the book even started, it was hard to care who killed them. This was intensified by two of the victims being nice simple men who were basically nonentities, their backgrounds were glossed over and then they were forgotten. The third victim was a terrible person, so putting his killer away wasn't particularly enticing, and all the other involved parties were also terrible people. Add to all of that the financial wrangling and s ...more
Shay Lynn
Not One of My Favorite Bellairs

Not bad but with rather more details about accounting trickery than makes for a good murder mystery. Every Inspector Littlejohn story is worth reading but I found myself skimming through a lot of paragraphs. The Inspector is always at his best on the Isle of Man.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another gentle detective story featuring Littlejohn. Set closer to London this time, it's interesting to see the impact of a growing population on local politics and people. I didn't enjoy the backdrop or supporting characters as much in this installment, but will continue to turn to Bellairs whenever I need a break from more recent books. ...more
Wash your hands.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
He's so so hit and miss, this one could have done with twice the plot of half the pages. Sometimes what his style reminds me of is a American discovery channel program where they do a summery after each advert break for the drunk/stupid and you end up with being to cut out everything between the first and last chapter and nothing of value is lost. ...more
Kat Walter
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
British crime classic. Starts with a explosion...and the deeper C.I. Littlejohn investigates, he finds more suspects than he knows what to do with. Unlike the closed room mystery, the suspects here could be nearly anyone in town.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Definitely a Crime Classic, it was a good read with lots of twists and turns in the plot. The characters were interesting and complex enough that it kept you guessing on their motives and actual outcomes. I have put this author on my wish list and will try to find more of his books.
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good plot; plenty of suspects.

I enjoyed the detectives and policemen in this book; they seemed to have tons of patience for some of these goofy people. The worst one was the alderman; he was totally ugly in every way. I especially liked the ending .
Mr A M Kubara
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story teller. Real life plot

Excellent story. Littleton is a real bonus to all his stories. Plenty more to go. So better get cracking now
Cindy Ladensack
Enjoyable read, although a bit slow-going figuring out what all the mid century British banking and industry terms meant!
Michael Sparrow
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read several of Bellairs' and this later (1964) whodunit is one of the best. Clever, suspenseful and to the point. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: combine editions 3 9 Apr 27, 2019 08:48AM  

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AKA Hilary Landon
George Bellairs is the nom de plume of Harold Blundell, a crime writer and bank manager born in Heywood, near Rochdale, Lancashire, who settled in the Isle of Man on retirement. He wrote more than 50 books, most featuring the series' detective Inspector Littlejohn. He also wrote four novels under the alternative pseudonym Hilary Landon.

Other books in the series

Chief Inspector Littlejohn (1 - 10 of 57 books)
  • Littlejohn on Leave (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #1)
  • Four Unfaithful Servants (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #2)
  • Death of a Busybody (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #3)
  • Murder Will Speak (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #4)
  • The Murder of a Quack (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #5)
  • The Case of the Seven Whistlers (Thomas Littlejohn #6)
  • Calamity at Harwood (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #7)
  • Death in the Night Watches (Thomas Littlejohn #8)
  • He'd Rather Be Dead (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #8)
  • The Case of the Scared Rabbits (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #10)

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