Sometimes being too clever is good. Then, on the other hand, sometimes not. This latest Dalziel and Pascoe Mystery provides an example of both. It is too clever by half. To begin with, the Fat Man, Andy Dalziel, is now awake from the coma he suffered from a bomb blast in the previous novel in the series, and, although weakened and thinner, is still, at least, awake and witty. His girlfriend talks him into going to a convalescent facility in an interesting seaside town and while recovering, he finds himself in the middle of several murders, but having to take a backseat to his protégé, Peter Pascoe, because he is still on leave.
Lady Denham, who has outlived two husbands, taking over the wealth of the first and the title of the second, is found strangled and roasting on a barbeque. Between her rampant sex drive and penchant for subjugating potential heirs, there is no lack of suspects. Two additional deaths follow.
The problem with the novel is its construction. The first part is presented in the form of e-mails by a young psychology student. While observant and providing plenty of information, the pages tend to drone and drag on. These are complemented by Andy dictating his innermost thoughts and observations; also somewhat overdone. When the reader gets past these pages, one can hunker down to a traditional police procedural on a par with the best of the series.
As Yogi said, it ain't over `til it's over. And the reader is never sure that the end is near, even at the final chapter, which is introduced again by a tape recording. The 500-plus pages are a lot to slog though. But reaching the conclusion is well worth the effort. And it is good to have the Fat Man amongst the living again. [In the last entry, he dominated the book by sleeping completely through it.] Recommended.