Cover Image: Death in Room Five

Death in Room Five

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is one of my favorite English Crime series, and it was a very nice read. 
Inspector Littlejohn and  his wife Letty are on vacation at the French Riviera. The vacation comes to an abrupt halt when a compatriot is murdered  nearby. Alderman Dawson is stabbed to death and Littlejohn is asked to help the French police. Dawson was on a coach tour along with other residents from Bolchester. Dawson had been in the maquis during the war, fell in love with a woman and betrayed the group. The murder could be revenge from wartime or the murderer could be one of the participants in the bus tour. To find out more about the group  and the victim, Littlejohn has to go back to England and visit Bolchester,
While he is away other murders take place.
I enjoyed reading it - nice French settings around Cannes, and interesting to read about the difference between English and French police methods. Sergeant Cromwell appeared very briefly, but instead we got the amusing cooperation between inspector Dorange and LittleJohn. 

As an appetizer the first chapter of Death Treads Softly was included in the e-book too. (Chief Inspector Littlejohn 26)
Was this review helpful?
Inspector Littlejohn and his wife head to the French Rivera for a restful vacation.The peaceful vacation doesn’t last long there’s a Murder that the inspector gets involved In .Alternating between France and a town in England,This is a terrific golden mystery really enjoyed.#netgalley#agorabooks.
Was this review helpful?
With thanks to the Agora Books and NetGalley for the e-book version of this novel.
I was first introduced to George Bellairs through Net Galley and I am so glad i was.  I love the stories and the characters.  I'm slowly working my way through them all.  Many thanks to the publisher for re-publishing these gems.
Was this review helpful?
I should begin by disclosing that I am not a fan of the author (George Bellairs). He began writing at the end of the Golden Age of British mystery fiction and initially seemed like he might be part of a new wave with his emphasis on procedure, ordinary characters and sharp eye for contemporary social conditions.

But this book is from the middle of his career when his early promise had dissipated. He continued to write excellent radio comedy, but his mystery novels featuring Inspector Littlejohn managed to retain all the tired faults of mediocre Golden Age fiction, with none of its virtues.

The detection is glacially slow, and the reader never cares about the solution. The red herrings are practically marked in fluorescent type. There's no logic to the solution, one of many plausible versions is revealed at the end via the poor device of having the villain explain it for no good reason. The solution is not particularly satisfying or logical, while it explains some of the formal clues, it raises more questions than it answers, and it does not explain many events that the author did not designate as clues.

The author spends little time on the crime, most of his interest is in recording complaints. The detective is unhappy to have his vacation ruined, the suspects whine about being kept in France, the French police grumble about not being able to torture everyone to get a confession--everyone gripes, no one is sympathetic.

This could have more interest if the characters or settings were vaguely realistic. But the English suspects seem to be living in late Victorian times, while the French characters are from an interwar English farce about colorful French ne'er-do-wells. It's hard for a current reader to tell what was satire and what was just bad observation. Is the author making fun of English people for acting in such old-fashioned ways? Is he satirizing English stereotypes of France?

But Inspector LIttlejohn was immensely popular, and retains many fans today. So there must be virtues in the series that I don't see. So if you're a fan, ignore my review. If you're thinking of looking into the books, start with the first two. If you love those, you might tolerate this one. If you only tolerate those, you can miss this one.
Was this review helpful?
A different setting for Inspector Littlejohn this time, the French Riveria. On a well earned holiday with his wife that gets interrupted by the muder of man on holiday with a bus load of people all from the same town. What follows is an story of affairs, blackmail and intrigue in the French Resistance from WWII.
These usual page turner from George Bellairs.
Was this review helpful?
This was a very good mystery and a great addition to the Littlejohn   series. The author’s writing is very atmospheric and I felt as if I was there on the French Riviera. I enjoyed reading all the clues but did not guess the identity of the murderer.  
Many thanks to Agora Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
In Death in Room Five, first published in 1955, Inspector Littlejohn is looking forward to taking a break from detective work and enjoying the sun, sea and sand of the French Riviera. His holiday has hardly begun, however, when a party of British tourists arrive, one of them is stabbed to death in the street, and Littlejohn finds himself drawn into a murder investigation. The dead man – the Alderman Dawson, from the fictional English town of Bolchester – appears at first to have been a respectable, honourable pillar of the community, but Littlejohn soon discovers that there is no shortage of people who had reasons to dislike Dawson or to benefit from his death.

This is an interesting and well-constructed murder mystery with plenty of suspects all with a possible motive for wanting Dawson dead. In order to understand the background of each suspect’s relationship with the Alderman, Littlejohn has to make a brief journey back to England to interview the residents of Bolchester (leaving the long-suffering Mrs Littlejohn to continue their holiday alone) but most of the action takes place in the south of France. I loved the beautiful descriptions of the Riviera, and the French setting also allows Bellairs to explore an intriguing motive for the murder – Dawson’s involvement with the French Resistance during the war.

It’s quite a complex mystery and although I didn’t find the solution particularly convincing, I appreciated the way Bellairs misleads us with red herrings and keeps us guessing to the end. However, I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the only other Bellairs novel I've read, A Knife for Harry Dodd, because I thought the characters in that one were more interesting to read about. Apart from the formidable Mrs Beaumont, I found the characters in this book less memorable and so the novel as a whole was not as entertaining. I did love the setting, though, and was pleased to discover that there are several other Littlejohn mysteries set in France, as well as on the Isle of Man, which is where Bellairs lived after his retirement. I’m looking forward to trying some of them.
Was this review helpful?
This is another splendid mystery in the Golden Age tradition. Littlejohn is a member of a group touring the French Riviera. When one member dies suddenly, Littlejohn is asked to lend his skills to a solution. There are twelve suspects, and the author gives us a good chance to meet all of them, and follow Littlejohn’s efforts find the killer using his British methods, before the French authorities take it over. Littlejohn not only needs his detective skills to solve the case, but also lots of diplomacy to deal with the differing perspective of his French colleagues, the directives of his Scotland yard superiors, and the considerable apprehensions of his British co-travelers. He is time-limited in his efforts, which adds extra suspense to the story.

There are suspects, motives and opportunities in abundance. This is a tightly plotted story with a lovely French Riviera atmosphere surrounding it all.

I found this a most enjoyable read. My thanks to author, publisher, the George Bellairs Literary Estate, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
Another enjoyable outing for Littlejohn.  This time set in France where he, and the author were very happy. 
This poor detective does not seem to be able to enjoy a holiday without someone rudely interrupting it with murder and this book is no exception!
Littlejohn expertly sifts  through and examines a motley group of characters until he finally arrives at the solution. 
As always,  definitely worth a read for fans of the classic crime genre.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks once again to #NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read George Bellairs' highly entertaining "Death In Room Five", another entry in the Inspector Littlejohn series, in return for a fair and honest review.

I have been reading the Littlejohn series for a few months, and find each one to be just as entertaining as the previous. And "Death In Room Five" was no exception.

It seems as though Inspector and Mrs. Littlejohn cannot have a complete vacation without him becoming embroiled in a mystery. This time, we're in France on the Riviera where a member of a group of Englishmen (and women) are making an annual tour, when one of them is stabbed and left for dead on a beach. Alderman Dawson's last words are "Vallouris" (or so we're told) and "get Inspector Littlejohn of Scotland Yard". Enter Littlejohn, along with his counterparts on the French police and gendarmes.

And there is no lack of suspects: it seems as though almost everyone in the party has a reason to have wanted Mr. Dawson dead. And then, to add to Littlejohn's troubles, there are two more murders related to the original.

As with most 'cozy' mysteries, the detective must wade through all kinds of red herrings, alibis, excuses, hysterics, etc, before finally getting to the heart of the mystery - which Littlejohn does with great aplomb.

The cast of characters of this novel is as interesting as the mystery itself, which held my attention through to the very end - and a surprise ending which is all the better.

Highly recommended for fans of Agatha Christie et al.
Was this review helpful?
After reading book 20 (A Knife For Harry Dodd) and book 13 (The Case Of The Demented Spiv) of George Bellairs' Inspector Littlejohn crime mystery series, I've now jumped to book 23! This is not deliberately intended to irritate people who resolutely read series in the correct order, it's just how the review copies are appearing on NetGalley! In this novel, Inspector Littlejohn has travelled to the beautiful French Riviera for a holiday, but soons finds himself abandoning his remarkably patient wife to her own devices as he throws himself into solving a complicated murder mystery.

George Bellairs travelled frequently in France himself and his love of the country and its culture is much in evidence throughout this story. He is also very much aware of the standard Little Englander mistrust of anything 'forrin' which is brilliantly well depicted in the behaviours of Alderman Dawson's holiday party. This group of a dozen people travelled from their Bolchester homes to their Cannes villa for a taste of French life, but they insist on only English food being served and only go en masse on strictly organised excursions. I'd like to say that this is a quaint portrait of 1950s attitudes, but sadly such isolationism is still all too common today. Of course, when one of the Bolchester party, Alderman Dawson, is stabbed and dies this just serves to reinforce the negativity - even when evidence suggests that the murderer might not actually be French after all.

The storyline is entertaining and, for me, sufficiently complicated that I was kept gripped for several hours. I didn't quite accept the denouement as plausible, but appreciated the hoops Bellairs had everyone jump through in order to get there. I loved the seedily glamorous Cannes locations too, especially the way they are contrasted with a brief glimpse of small town Bolchester. What absolutely made this book for me was Bellairs' characterisations. I am now getting used to Inspector Littlejohn being a bit of a nondescript plodder because it gives chances to everyone around him to ruthlessly scenesteal. In Death In Room Five Mrs Beaumont is a glorious creation - think of a fervently teetotal Hyacinth Bucket! I also liked weaselly Marriott and the permanently pissed coach driver. (There should be a drunk driving trigger warning for this novel.)

Death In Room Five is a satisfying murder mystery with a good sense of style and place. I did fear that transplanting Inspector Littlejohn to France would be Bellairs' way of compensating for a lack of story ideas after writing so many books (he actually wrote over 50 Littlejohn novels in the end!) so was pleased to find a strong narrative, lots of good local detail, and plenty of of entertaining humour.
Was this review helpful?
3.75 stars

Another classic Inspector Littlejohn mystery. Littlejohn and his wife are enjoying a vacation on the French coast when he is summoned to the hospital bed of an Englishman who has been stabbed. He dies before Littlejohn can get there.

Littlejohn is assigned to assist the French police. The victim was a member of an English tourist party and the inspector starts interviewing the other members of the group. Fairly quickly it is discovered that the dead man was involved in during the War with the French Resistance and let slip some information that got 20 people killed. 

But the victim had complicated relationships with a lot of people, personally and in business, and Littlejohn does not believe the killing was a simple retaliation. There is the characteristic humor and plotting here. The characterizations and the descriptions are quite well done.

Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Being a new reader to George Bellairs' Littlejohn novels (this is the second one I have read) I wasn't sure what to expect,but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Littlejohn and his wife are on holiday in France when there is a murder amongst a group of English travellers and he is asked to investigate much to the chagrin of the French police and more murders ensure.
The book is full of very interesting characters and I really enjoyed the humour  in the descriptions ,a cross eyed waitress did make me laugh!
I did think that the ending got a bit complicated but that could just be me.
All in all it was a book I would recommend to fans of British Crime and already have more Littlejohn on my Kindle
Was this review helpful?
Fantastic Inspector Littlejohn Mystery
I have read several Inspector Littlejohn mystery novels and this one set in France is my very favorite. The descriptions of the French town, beach, cuisine and local goings-on were such fun and quite evocative. I have visited a similar French site. Certainly the time frame is vintage but Bellairs' acuity is sharp and ironic. His characterizations are familiar but never dated. He makes what seems pat and easy a lot more complex as the plot gets thornier. Highly recommended if you appreciate George Bellairs' writing.
Was this review helpful?
Littlejohn At His Investigative Best......
Inspector Littlejohn is on the French Riviera when his holiday takes a murderous turn and and he is left with little option other than to investigate. A plethora of suspects, historical motives and more bodies all give Littlejohn more cause for consternation. A classic Bellairs and an excellent example of the thoughtful Inspector Littlejohn at his investigative best.
Was this review helpful?
This book by George Bellairs was very enjoyable, and with its realistic approach  in the fact of police procedure, it kept  going back and forward in the search  to get the truth of the matter, and where personality and secrets have been hidden. The ending was a surprise
Was this review helpful?
Another classic Inspector Littlejohn whodunit!  Littlejohn has left his usual English countryside haunts for a relaxing vacation in France.  Of course he has hardly time to relax and enjoy the beautiful French scenery with his wife when he is thrust into a murder mystery connected with vacationing tour of English citizens.  The inspector finds this a real test of his sleuthing abilities without his usual sidekick Cromwell and having to depend on the French police to assist him tracking down clues!  This was an excellent mystery and I was completely surprised at the solution!
Was this review helpful?
This book was fast paced. Hard to put down. It flowed well and it was very well written. It caught hold of me and had me hooked from the start . I was literally on the edge of my seat reading this book.
Was this review helpful?
A very mixed bunch of people go on a trip to France. They are all from one town of Bolchester from mixed backgrounds and many of them do not actually like each other. When Alderman Dawson is found murdered the French police are called in along with Detective Littlejohn who is on holiday at the time.

When the French police discover the true identity of Dawson who worked with the French resistance for a time (and who was found to be a traitor) the whole attitude and significance of the murder changes and it is upto Littlejohn to try to find the actual murderer and not just think this is an act of revenge from a long hidden French resistance avenger.

Depicting French and English detective methods this is a rather slow process of trying to find a murderer when so many of the actual people on the trip have had ample reasons to murder the Alderman. On the surface he seemed liked, but beneath it all simmering tensions were there and to try to weed tensions out from an intent to murder is hard. When two more murders take place the investigation becomes urgent and Littlejohn has his work cut out to prevent the police from very conveniently holding on to the first available suspect so that the entire investigation can be done and dusted.

In true detective fashion, it is only through a long process of deduction and elimination that the final suspect is found. 
A slightly old fashioned detective series.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked this - I've read several of George Bellairs' novels, and they often have interesting settings. This reminded me very much of some of the Maigret novels, as Inspector Littlejohn is on holiday in Cannes and ends up being drawn into a French police investigation into the murder of a British man also on holiday in the area. The portraits of the British abroad are very well done, and also the description of post war Cannes is very effective.
Was this review helpful?