Gently Does It by Alan Hunter: Book Review

When I saw that Gently Does It by Alan Hunter was available as an e-book I bought it because I’d enjoyed watching the TV version with Martin Shaw as Chief Inspector George Gently. First published in 1955, this is the first in the Chief Inspector Gently series, set in Norfolk (unlike the TV version, set in Northumbria).

Product Description from Amazon

The last thing you need when you’re on holiday is to become involved in a murder. For most people, that would easily qualify as the holiday from hell. For George Gently, it is a case of business as usual. The Chief Inspector’s quiet Easter break in Norchester is rudely interrupted when a local timber merchant is found dead. His son, with whom he had been seen arguing, immediately becomes the prime suspect, although Gently is far from convinced of his guilt. 

Norchester City Police gratefully accept Gently’s offer to help investigate the murder, but he soon clashes with Inspector Hansom, the officer in charge of the case. Hansom’s idea of conclusive evidence appals Gently almost as much as Gently’s thorough, detailed, methodical style of investigation exasperates Hansom, who considers the murder to be a straightforward affair.

Locking horns with the local law is a distraction Gently can do without when he’s on the trail of a killer.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed Gently Does It. I liked the portrayal of George Gently, a patient, thoughtful policeman, never hurried or distracted, quiet and persistent. He eats a lot of peppermint creams and doesn’t follow normal police procedures, as he admits:

I oughtn’t to tell you this ‘“ I oughtn’t even to tell myself. But I’m a very bad detective, and I’m always doing what they tell you not to in police college. (page 36)

but he does get results. He takes his time and despite disagreeing with Inspector Hansom, from the local police force, he gradually works his way through the various suspects, all of whom have secrets that he winkles out.

About the Author (copied from the e-book version)

Alan Hunter was born in Hoveton, Norfolk in 1922. He left school at the age of fourteen to work on his father’s farm, spending his spare time sailing on the Norfolk Broads and writing nature notes for the Eastern Evening News. He also wrote poetry, some of which was published while he was in the RAF during the Second World War. By 1950, he was running his own book shop in Norwich and in 1955, the first of what would become a series of forty-six George Gently novels was published. He died in 2005, aged eighty-two.

There are more Gently books that I’m aiming to read. I love the titles and they’re all available as e-books!

5 thoughts on “Gently Does It by Alan Hunter: Book Review”

  1. I’m not a huge fan of the TV series even though I like Martin Shaw, but the books sound rather good so I might just treat myself to the e.book at some stage.

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  2. Margaret – Thanks for this fine book review. The Gently series doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, so I’m glad you’ve spotlighted it. It’s a series I really need to explore in more depth…

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  3. Again I thank you for your earlier mention of the books. I bought four and have finished the first one (but haven’t written about it yet). Wasn’t there a lot of smoking??! It’s amazing how it was just taken for granted. I don’t know about over there, but here I see a lot of younger people smoking while the older ones have mostly quit. Interesting how that works.

    I ‘saw’ Martin Shaw as I read the book. I love him in the role.

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    1. Nan, there was a lot of smoking! It certainly placed it well within the time period. It’s the same here now with more
      youngsters smoking than older people. Sad!

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