Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two George Gently books

67. Gently Down The Stream - third in the George Gently series
by Alan Hunter
mystery, 1957
Kindle book, 43
finished, 10/19/11

71. Landed Gently - fourth in the George Gently series
by Alan Hunter
mystery, 1957
Kindle book, 45
finished, 11/1/11

I sort of enjoyed the canal boat emphasis in Gently Down the Stream, but my goodness, Deborah Crombie did such a better job telling about this life in her book, Water Like a Stone. Hunter paints a picture of the people who live on the canal boats as being rather morally loose, but their lack of morality is nothing compared to the rich people in the book. There are silly names such as 'Rushm'quick.' I continued to the end but the book didn't hold my interest, and some (most) of the characters were so unpleasant. I can take this if the sleuth is a compelling person, but we don't really get to know George Gently very well. He smokes, he likes peppermint creams, and he likes to fish. All interesting traits to mention in the stories, but we really need more detail to care about him as a person.

Landed Gently began so nicely that I thought this book, fourth in the series, was going to be the 'breakaway' book; the one in which Alan Hunter's work changed from mediocre to very good. For the first time the reader got a glimpse into Gently's home life. He has lived in the same rooms for 21 years, with a good landlady who isn't stingy about keeping the fires going well. George is a bit dismayed because he has been invited to spend Christmas in the country. He likes his 'rut' as he calls it. He likes his Christmas days visiting a fellow officer and his family. He enjoys the simple pleasures of his home and his pipe.

He has a pleasant train ride with an exuberant American soldier. Query: why are Americans always exuberant, energetic, enthusiastic in these older British books? He arrives and is welcomed into the home of a chief constable and his wife, whose children are grown and living far away. At first I liked this couple, but then I began to not like the man at all. He was flirty with a young girl, he stubbornly stuck to his own views, and was almost a caricature of the British 'what-ho' kind of fellow.

A murder occurs at a neighboring home of a lord, who has quit the House of Lords. He is eccentric to say the least. I settled down thinking oh, won't this be a lovely murder mystery. But it wasn't. It was boring. It was weird. I think the author was trying to show the readers what had happened to the British aristocracy after the Second World War, but I don't believe he succeeded. There was too much talk, too few clues, too little real police work. You may read quite a scathing review here, with which I agree.

Although the murder occurs on Christmas Day, I'm not going to include the book in my list of Christmas books because it isn't important when this particular crime took place. The date was just a vehicle for getting George Gently to the scene.

I think my time with Mr. Gently is over. It has been pleasant enough but I just don't think the books are very good in terms of writing, plot, or characters. There are way too many books I want to read to continue reading books that are just so-so.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more, Nan. Too many books worth reading to continue reading so/so books. I noticed that the Gently mysteries are available on Netflix streaming. I like the actor who stars. Have you seen those? I haven't - yet. Maybe one of these days.

    My copy of Triple Zeck arrived and I've been reading these three Nero Wolfe stories which for whatever reason I didn't have in paperback.

    These feature Arnold Zeck, Wolfe's arch enemy. His Moriarity.

    But the library sent me an email that my requests are beginning to trickle in...Now I have to juggle vintage and new.

    It's all very hit or miss right now.

    Am I forgiven for our slight differences on HOLIDAY?? :)

  2. Good lord yes! I thought you made good points, Yvette. I am just blinded by love, that's all. :<)
    I own hardly any Stout. Most of my reading was done via books on tape with the most wonderful Michael Prichard narrating. He WAS Archie to me. I did buy the Three Witnesses for the Kindle, and I loved those novellas.
    I also love the televised George Gently. It is great. Martin Shaw is so good, and I like his sidekick who wasn't in the books, played by Lee Ingleby. There's a neat little you tube here:


    If I were you, I'd start watching immediately!!

  3. Well, all right, I will. :) I've worked my way though the Poirot episodes. And loved watching the two Christie movies, SEVEN DIALS MYSTERY and WHY DIDN'T THEY ASK EVANS?

    So, George Gently coming up in the very near future. :)

    P.S. I'm blinded by love about certain movies as well. Maybe I'll do a post...

  4. You are right about bringing your Gently reading to an end - you certainly gave the author, the series and the character a fair chance, but there are indeed so many books to be read that one simply can't afford to spend time with the ones we do not really like that much.
    I guess if I happened to come across one from this series, I'd give it a try, but I won't actively go and look for them.

  5. Nan,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog, didn't notice until this morning...
    You will love The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady! Can't wait to see what you say about it, everything she wrote, her drawings...exquisite!

    Oh, and this review of this book! And I went to the link you gave and read that one too! Oh my, life is too short to read a bad book, eh?

  6. Guess I'll skip the books and go straight Netflix for Mr. Gently!

  7. I first watched some of the Gently tv series on Netflix and enjoyed them, and then read one of the books and didn't care for it at all...

    You know the Reader's Bill of Rights, don't you? Look it up online if not....We're allowed (among other things) to stop reading if we don't care for the book and move on to something better.

  8. The enthusiastic, etc. American in your novel is I think the way we were all pegged by Brits years ago. Probably not any more, but they were shocked at our willingness to talk to "anyone" and our openness and friendliness. No stiff upper lip for us; if we're in trouble we say so, and loud! I may be wrong, but that's just my take on the issue.

  9. Yvette, there is SO much offered on Instant that I shall never get through them all. :<)

    Librarian, I agree with all you said.

    Kay, it will be sometime next year. I have a few 'country women' books lined up that I want to read.

    Jenclair, the tv version is really wonderful!

    I do know that bill of rights, Kristi! Great words. I live them in my reading life. :<)

    I don't think you are wrong at all, Barbara. That is exactly the way it was I think.

  10. I'm surprised you read as far as you did! Don't you usually quit books when you're dissatisfied?

    Off to Netflix to reserve the Gently program. Thanks!

  11. Les, I wasn't really dissatisfied. They were pleasant enough but I didn't like the turn this fourth one made from the start of the book. I expected something different and better but it didn't happen. It got weird instead of giving the reader more about the main character.

  12. In answer to your question about why Americans are always portrayed as "exuberant, energetic, enthusiastic" in older British writings, I suspect it's because that's how Americans were perceived by Brits during WWII. After all, to go from having little to occasional contact with the odd American to suddenly having thousands of foreign teenage boys and young men dumped into your country with energy and time to burn before they potentially go off to face death must have been a huge cultural shock -- both for the American soldiers and the British citizens.

    My grandmother was an English war bride, and she references it when speaking of my grandfather first asking her out. She was flabbergasted, and she made up an excuse and turned him down (because the perception was that good girls didn't date "those Yanks"). He later caught her in the lie, she went out with him (I think out of a sense of guilt of having been caught), and the rest is now history.

    So while it seems like a weird stereotype from both our linear and cultural distance, I suspect it was not inaccurate in the '40s and (early) '50s.

  13. Oh Sprite, thank you! This was so wonderful to read. I suspect it may even be a little true now.

  14. Nan,
    When I was getting ready to go to Ghana, I loaded my iPad with books and happened to pick two Gently mysteries as they were fairly inexpensive to download compared to more recent books. Once I started reading, I knew I had been gyped even at the lower price, but I plowed through both of the books and groaned outloud several times, but I was in Bolgatanaga Ghana without a bookstore in sight.

  15. Kat, hope you had some other choices as well!

  16. Guess there's a reason he isn't as well-known as Agatha Christie or Ngiao marsh or etc.....

  17. Sallie, I think you are exactly right. I've seen this in some new publications of older books - they just aren't always that good.


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