Lovesey often gives the sense his tongue is firmly in his cheek. The False Inspector Dew reads as though it were written in the 40s: the characters are drawn as wry twists on old cliches, sailing along (literally) in their frothy, and quietly funny, quest for love and bungled adventure. The False Inspector is not what he seems (like many of the characters). Like Chance in Being There, Walter is imbued by everyone else with characteristics he just doesn't have. Lovesey pokes fun at romance (particularly with the wistful and foolish heroine), detection (the ship's officer whom the false inspector displaces is equally as bad a dectective as our hero) and finally with plot, which he twists to suit his neat but far fetched needs. The cast springs from the Victorian parlors: the shipboard Johnny, the nearly harumphing captain, the well heeled family trying to marry off their daughter, the light fingered and lovely shill, and the aw-darn, I-really-liked-him murderer. This is not a slap your knee comedy, but your leg is consistently pulled in a dry English humor sort of way. There seems to be a real, honest to God, genuine mistake in the book, where one character refers to a character by the true name which hasn't yet been revealed. I re-read that part, thinking that Lovesey was having another go at my leg, but no, I think it really slipped through. This is a book best read where you can sit smiling to yourself without anyone asking you what the joke is. I had the sense that Lovesey has read all the old detective novels, and seen all the black and white movies and is having his way with them and us.