Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gently Does It by Alan Hunter

42. Gently Does It - first in the George Gently series
by Alan Hunter
mystery, 1955
Kindle book - 23
finished, 5/19/11

I was wondering what to read on my Kindle after the last Deborah Crombie, when I saw on Margaret's blog that the George Gently books are available. She later reviewed Gently Does It here.

I first heard of Mr. Gently from the superb English television series. It stars Martin Shaw, and is available from Netflix, and also to buy from Acorn. The younger associate isn't in this first book and I'm wondering if he shows up later, or is just in the television version.

Before the book begins, there is 'a gentle reminder to the reader' from the author, which I found charming. Alan Hunter sets up the whole series by telling us that:
This is a detective story, but not a 'whodunit'. Its aim is to give a picture of a police investigator slowly building up his knowledge of a crime to a point, not where he knows who did it - both you and he know that at a fairly early stage - but to a point where he can bring a charge which will convince the jury.
I thought it worthwhile mentioning this. I hate being criticized for not doing what I had no intention of doing.
Sincerely yours,
Alan Hunter
Chief Inspector George Gently is on holiday when he reads a newspaper headline saying that 'foul play' is suspected in the death of a timber merchant. He pays a visit to the local police department offering his help and finds they were just going to get in touch with him. The murder victim is universally hated, and the people around him are odd, probably because of how he dealt with them. Gently has a light sense of humor. In the tv shows, he has lost his wife, but there's no mention of that in this book. He seems to be a single man, who is quite content with his job and his life. He adores peppermint creams. He goes about his work quietly and without much stress and strain - a very different detective from any I've yet encountered. The book is thoroughly enjoyable even with its not always pleasant characters. The writing is really very nice.
He raised his head, frowning. Waking up to rain filled him with a sort of hopelessness, a feeling that here was a day to be got over and dismissed as quickly as possible, a day when all normal business ought to be postponed.

Outside the rain made a soft quiet noise, like the sound of time itself.

Food was one of those dependable pleasures, like smoking.
And boy is there a lot of smoking. It is just the way it was then.

The mystery is a good one, the characters strong, and Mr. Gently a pure joy. I really enjoyed Gently Does It, and have bought three more for the Kindle. Alan Hunter died in 2005, and over the years wrote 46 George Gently books.


  1. We have watched a couple of episodes of the Gently TV series. We stopped for some reason and I can't remember why. Maybe just because summer was over and it was time to watch regular TV. We watch a lot more from Netflix in the summer. Didn't know there were books, but I should have. Hope you enjoy them.

  2. Never heard of these books or the show, Nan. But I LOVE Martin Shaw. I'll have to check these out on Neflix. I'll also see if my library has any of the books. Thanks for a great post.

  3. I'm glad that you found another series to dive into!

  4. Sounds like Mr. Gently will accompany you (and us, through your reviews) for a while :-)
    I agree with the author saying he hates being criticized for something he didn't even do (or intend to do)! And regarding rain and business - to me, it is the opposite; nothing like a rainy day to get a lot of work done :-)

  5. Here is yet another thing that I didn't know about but I know that I will love. Thank you for telling me about these books and that there is a TV series on it too!
    Oh, and I hope you will read The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady.
    It pleases me so that you understand we have the same tastes in books!

  6. Kay, though the show and books may be different, so far, I like them both.

    Yvette, I think you would like them both!

    Staci, ah there are oh so many series I want to 'dive into' :<)

    Librarian, I'll be interested to see if the books become more like the tv shows. The latter are set in the 1960s where this book was the fifties.

    Kay, Martin Shaw is a great actor and does so well in this role. And I'm looking forward to the Country Diary.

  7. Lovely lupins, what a wonderful colour.
    Didn't watch Gently when it was on T.V but I have always had a soft spot for Martin Shaw.
    Going to watch the Derby now on TV!

  8. Anon. I've read that some think it his best role. And what Derby??

  9. Sorry, the anon was me, and the Derby was the English one, held on the Epsom Downs and attended by the royals, the smart set, and thousands of 'ordinary' folk. Beautiful horses in a lovely setting.

  10. Truthfully I'm not that keen on the series. Watched a couple and then stopped. It may be the period it's set, I'm not sure.

    I do however *love* your lupins, Nan. :-)

  11. Nan - You are great! Thanks for reminding me of a great series. summer is here and time for more mysteries.

  12. Carole, I should have known that! I'm going to go searching for pictures. :<)

    Cath, I'm kind of fond of the period setting. Not too much on tv is set then. I'm interested to know if the later books get into the sixties and later, or if they stay in the fifties.

    Pat, I'm quite partial to mysteries myself, and most of the ones I love are set in England.

  13. I love English mysteries -- and I just bought this one (from the comfort of the chair in my RV). I am reading Louise Penny's mysteries -- they're Canadian -- and Quebecois (spelling?) but they are so good. I read about them on somebody's blog. Was it yours?

  14. Sallie, isn't that so much fun! Talk about instant gratification. :<)
    I wrote about one of her books but it was a long time ago, so I suspect you read about Louise Penny on someone else's blog.

  15. I've heard of George Gently but never seen the TV show or read the books. I think the TV show is on satellite tv currently so will look out for it and also see if I can find the books at the library. They do sound just my kind of thing.

  16. Rowan, I suspect they just might be! I keep wondering if I will read all 46 books. :<)

  17. I want to thank you for letting me know about these books. I am nearing the end of Gently Does It, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. A delightful change of pace.

  18. Mike, and I thank you for taking the time to tell me. I'm now reading the second one, and you are right -they are such a change of pace from any mystery/crime fiction I've ever read.


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