Rafferty, feeling the blues of loneliness washing over him while his Welsh sidekick is on honeymoon, decides to enrol in a Dating Agency. Unwilling, for reasons that are not entirely clear, to enrol under his own name, he borrows the identity and the rather tight suit of his cousin, Nigel Blythe, and pretends to be an estate agent. All seems to be going well, as on two consecutive dates Rafferty meets a very nice woman. The first does not ring him back, nor the second, and he only finds out why when he is assigned to investigate their murders.
Rafferty is therefore forced to cover his own tracks, eliminate his cousin Nigel Blythe as a suspect and keep the real suspects from recognising him as the original Nigel Blythe.
Much of this requires a huge suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, and if you can manage that it is mostly an enjoyable read, and a little like an old-fashioned farce, with Rafferty sporting a new beard and a pair of spectacles.
Those of you who find it difficult to suspend your disbelief will no doubt be wondering why Rafferty didn’t simply admit to having been there under a false name in the first place, since surely then the investigation could have been pushed in the right direction from the start.
Additionally, a Dating Agency would surely need to have photographs of their clients, if only to ensure they have something to show to the police when their members start getting murdered.
Anyhoo, if one can live with that, it’s a fairly short and absorbing tale with some humour, romance and human drama.
The only – and really annoying – flaw of the book is that Evans’ view of gay life seems to be obtained through a telescope to the Nineteen Seventies. One is allowed to use the word ‘gay’ in literature in the 21st Century, although you wouldn’t know it. The word ‘homosexual’ is whispered in disdained tones and the one gay character that does appear is the standard predatory camp waspish gay man that one used to find in Seventies sitcoms; the one-dimensional ones, the ones you could laugh at.
We’re thirty years or more on now Geraldine. Times have changed, and I hope, so have the attitudes of your readers.
Inspector Rafferty and his new sidekick, Dafyd Llewellyn, a dour intellectual Welsh poetry expert (I’m pretty sure that should be Dafydd, though, with two d’s and it’s vexing me) are charged to investigate the murder of a young girl in an Essex Mental Hospital. Meanwhile, Rafferty’s matchmaking mother has asked him to help his cousin Jack, who has been arrested for theft days before his wedding.
It’s a decent enough start to a series, although one would have preferred a little more light shone onto Llewellyn’s character. Rafferty, on the other hand, is a highly likeable addition to the world of detective fiction.
As can be expected there’s a raftful of suspects, secrets are uncovered and Rafferty and Llewellyn are forced to come to terms with their disparate personalities.
Would I read more of them? Yes I would, and I have another Rafferty and Llewellyn title already on my kindle, awaiting the moment.