Inspector Henry Tibbet by Patricia Moyes
Why I read it: I first started reading this series years ago, when I picked one up at the UBS. Which one is lost to the sands of time. The first book was published in 1959.
C.I.D. Inspector Henry Tibbets, with his famous “nose” for crime, and his wife Emmy are a delightful pair. The series makes use of their travels – so far, I’ve accompanied them to a posh ski resort in the Italian Alps, a rustic resort on a Caribbean island, an international drug conference in Switzerland, and Emmy’s 20th WAAF reunion. I’ve been collecting the paperbacks as I find them, and I’m up to book 7, Murder Fantastical, which is sitting on my shelf waiting for me.
The Inspector Luke Thanet series by Dorothy Simpson.
Why I read it: I don’t remember how I found this series. I may have picked up an old paperback at the UBS and then, after reading it, found the series was available as some kindle reissues at my local library. The first book was published in 1980, when I was in the 9th grade, but I didn’t read it until the last few years.
The main character is Luke Thanet, a British police inspector. It’s set in Kent, England, and has a total of 15 entries, the last having been published in 1999. Thanet has a sidekick, Sgt. Lineham, who helps him with his investigations. In addition, Luke’s wife, Joan, and his two children feature prominently in the books and they provide an interesting sociological review of changing marriages and mores during a time when women were more actively entering the full-time workforce. Joan is hired as a probation officer in the third book, and Luke occasionally ruminates on how much his internal male compass struggles with having a wife who has interests beyond home and family (i.e., beyond him).
Inspector Banks by Peter Robinson
Why I read it: It might be a little bit of an overstatement to say that I “read” this series, when I’ve actually only read the first book, and that only a few weeks ago. But, Inspector Banks has been on my radar for a while, and I enjoyed the first book enough to check out the next two. Gallows View was published in 1987, and there are a total of 27 books, with a 28th to be published in April. In fact, it’s probably a bit of a misnomer to even call this “vintage” at this point. Although, 1987 was a looong time ago, and it therefore feels pretty vintage to me.
The Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes
Why I read it: I started reading Richard Jury in high school – my mom read the mass market paperback editions, and I would read them after she finished with them. I read them through high school (the first several), college (the next few) and law school (through maybe book 11 or so). There are 25 of them, reaching all the way into the end of the twenty-teens. I quit reading them at some unidentified time in the past, but have been picking them up and rereading over the past few years.
These books are, honestly, a little strange. Richard Jury is a recognizably normal Chief Inspector, but the side characters can be quirky to the point of bizarre. Melrose Plant, Earl of something or another and his not-even-remotely-likeable Aunt Agatha, Jury’s gorgeous neighbor, whose name I have forgotten but it might be Carolanne – it’s all very over the top. It’s sort of like Northern Exposure, but in book form, and in England. I am also fairly sure that Grimes (an American, but who writes books set in England) titled all of her mysteries after fictional pubs, and they have some of the greatest titles in the history of mystery fiction.
Pollard and Toye by Elizabeth LeMarchand
Why I read it: This is sort of a “village murder” series, also set in England. I obviously have a thing for mystery series set in England, and I’m not even a little bit guilty about this. The first of the Pollard & Toye murders was published in 1967, and there are 17 of them. The last, The Glade Manor Murder, was published in 1989. I’ve read more than half of these – the last one I read was (according to Goodreads) Unhappy Returns, and I finished it in March 2020.
I recall that one being a bit of a disappointment, which may explain why there has been a delay in continuing with the series. They are all available through the Kindle Unlimited Library, though, so I’m sure I will continue on at some point.