Published: August 2019 by British Library Publishing
Category: Classic Crime, Murder, Mystery, Book Review
Jim Teasdale has been drowned in the Dumb River, near Ely, miles from his Yorkshire home. His body, clearly dumped in the usually silent (‘dumb’) waterway, has been discovered before the killer intended — disturbed by a torrential flood.
With critical urgency it’s up to Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard to trace the mystery of the unassuming victim’s murder to its source, leaving waves of scandal and sensation in his wake as the hidden, salacious dealings of Jim Teasdale begin to surface.
First published in 1961, The Body in The Dumb River has been reissued by the British Library Crime Classics. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of these classic crime novels, this is the first by George Bellairs. I didn’t realise the Littlejohn books were such a long running series but this book quite easily reads as a stand alone.
Superintendent Tom Littlejohn of Scotland Yard had been at the Fenshire Police Headquarters, assisting in the closure of a case, when he is woken in the early hours by the Chief Constable with the news of a murder. With the recent torrential rain, the river had burst its banks and the body of James Lane had been discovered. He’d been stabbed in the back.
James Lane ran a stall at the travelling fair and was a regular visitor to the area. But it seems Lane had been leading a double life. As James Teasdale he had a family in Yorkshire who knew nothing of his job on the fairground, much less about the woman he lived with during the week when he was supposed to be away with his job as a travelling salesman. So the investigation lead Littlejohn to Sheffield where he spoke to Teasdale’s family.
“I’m sorry Mrs Teasdale, but there’s been no mistake. I have seen his body and I recognise him from the group on the wall there. Also, he carried a car licence bearing his name and this address. I wish it had been a mistake.”