There are five Inspector Knowles books set in and around Goat Parva, Manton Rempville, Willougby Waterless, and Melton Lazars. Where are these places you might ask?
The first book is The Goat Parva Murders – Just a typical Tuesday night in the English country hamlet of Goat Parva. The stalkers in the rhododendrons are busy watching the exhibitionists in the windows. Nothing unusual. Until that is when Bingo the retriever returns with a pair of shoes that were last seen adorning the feet of well known voyeur Clem Shapiro.
Steadily the secret lives, peccadilloes and illicit affairs of the inhabitants of this one time idyll of English Country Life all begin to unravel under the dogged investigations of Detective Inspector Colin Knowles. What seemed like a fairly simple case is rapidly deteriorating under a growing mountain of suspects, witnesses and bodies. Scratch the surface of this sleepy hamlet and it seems everybody has a motive to want somebody else dead. And D.I Knowles has only just begun to scratch. The Goat Parva Murders introduces the reader to a cast of eccentric characters that could have escaped right off the pages of a Tom Sharpe novel in search of mayhem, mischief and murder.
The second book is the Manton Rempville Murders – Bingo the retriever has been finding bodies again. This time, someone has left a sword in the back of Edward Pritchard in the grounds of a 700-year old monastery. Bingo found the body on his morning walk with his owner Adelaide Hills.
Pritchard used to work at the nearby stately home, Manton Rempville Hall, as a gardener, although all he seemed to cultivate was reasons for people not to like him. Inspector Colin Knowles and Sergeant Rod Barnes have to investigate which person hated him the most.
However, there’s a house party at the hall so there are plenty of suspects though people are unwilling to give up their secrets easily and Knowles and Barnes have to dig to find answers. They inspect the libraries, the studies, and the not-so-secret passage of the old hall in an attempt to find out who murdered Pritchard. The police are in a race against fate, because they suspect the killer will strike again.
Bells, owls, and ironic topiary all play a part in the investigation as Knowles and Barnes slowly weed out the suspects. But will they be in time to prevent further deaths and will Bingo play a role?
The third book is The Frisby Waterless Murders – Knowles and Sergeant Barnes investigate why the wrong person died on a murder/mystery excursion on a steam train. It seems more than one person wanted the victim dead and the question is: who murdered Major Harkness in full view of 24 people without any of them noticing?
The fourth book is The Black Hill Hotel Mystery – Someone is leaving tracks in the snow around The Black Hill Hotel and no one can work out why. Inspector Colin Knowles is called in when one of the guests has their wallet stolen in the middle of night. Knowles is attacked and left for dead in a snowy field, but is rescued by his favourite dog, Bingo the retriever, and his owner Adelaide Hills. Then a body is found in a snowdrift and Knowles realises that at least one person in the hotel has a lot to hide.
The Black Hill Hotel advertises itself as a place to get away from it all in the Winter. The hotel is fully booked, though not all the guests arrive when they are supposed to. The snow piles up and the hotel becomes more and more inaccessible to vehicles. Some guests are content to watch it fall, but others try to use the winter conditions to get away with murder and other crimes. An escaped prisoner, kidnapped children, impersonation, and old-fashioned revenge are all on the menu at the hotel.
Can Knowles, assisted by Sergeant Rod Barnes and Constable Linda Smythe, determine which guests have committed which crime before the snow melts? Will the murderer get away with the perfect crime? Will Knowles’s attacker be found? Could they be the same person?
The fifth book is The Melton Lazars Mystery – Murder amongst the books in Scoresby. Inspector Knowles has to work out why a bookseller was murdered. His investigation is complicated because he had feelings for the murdered lady. Along with Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes he has to turn the page and cover all eventualities.
The killer is one step ahead and next tries to kill a florist. Knowles and Barnes root through the witness statements, leaf through the evidence, and assimilate the findings that stem from the investigation. When events shift to the nearby village of Melton Lazars, Knowles and Barnes know it’s only a matter of time until the killer is caught, though it’s almost certainly not the time on the grandmother clock in the florists!
With inaccurate clocks, a sensitive bank manager, cocky DIY professionals, a Guy Fawkes mask, and an exotic call centre worker all thrown together, this book zips along at a fast pace until the revelatory final chapter.