Cover Image: Death in Room Five

Death in Room Five

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Member Reviews

If you have read any of the Littlejohn books before & are like me you will know that you are if for a great read, if this is your first & you are wondering if you should buy it then it is a yes I promise you. 
Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is on holiday in the South of France with his beloved wife and gets a visit from two Englishmen from the Northern English town of Bolchester, to ask his help because one of their party Alderman Dawson has been stabbed and had asked for Littlejohns help. 
If you ever go away and find out that Littlejohn of the Yard is on Holiday near by normally either Southern France or the IOM first thing to do is get out of there the second work out how you managed to travel back in time. This adventure is set in the 1950s 
The Alderman doesn't survive and is soon joined by others but that's as much of the plot to give you without ruining it, Dawson a self proclaimed hero of the resistance in France was not the hero he claimed exactly but he was known for his role in the fight and the lady who turns out not to be what she seemed. But  would be a bit sad if everything played out as you expect. As such George Bellairs will leave you guessing and hooked for me I was hooked from page one but just his name on the cover is enough to have me read because I haven't yet found a bad book that he has written not bad for a bank manager. 
The plot has its twists and turns and unique characters all with their own identity like real life only one is a murderer, the French Police allow Littlejohn a free hand in a spirit of collaboration as asked for by the Yard. There are a few candidates for you to pick from and several red herring along the way which allow for some very fun twists if that's the right way. The French bobbies don't seem as deducted as it of that time one guarding the group send to have a very casual approach as opposed to the best Bobby that stands guard outside a place of interest here. So read on and see what I mean 
I really enjoyed this book and my guesses were wrong so you will probably do better than me and I obviously recommend this book as a great read one to relax ponder and enjoy.
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My Rating: 4.25/5

I always look forward to reading new Bellairs titles (reprints). If you have been following the series, you would know that most of the crimes occur when Littlejohn is on a vacation, Letty and Thomas Littlejohn are looking forward to spending a quiet time at Cannes when two men come to their hotel, asking for Littlejohn. 

An Alderman is stabbed and is on the deathbed. He's asked for Littlejohn but by the time Thomas arrives at the hospital, the man is dead. Soon, more bodies are found and the French police are losing their patience. Can Littlejohn solve this case before it is too late?

Most of the Bellairs titles give a lot of preference to the detailed descriptions. The French Riveria, the food, the beach and Pernod, at times it felt like I was in Cannes and not at the comforts of my home, reading this book. 
The mystery is well-maintained throughout the story. The red herrings on red herrings were quite a catch! Well, let's just say, Littlejohn wasn't the only one who got sidetracked by it. Hmph!

Overall, Death in Room Five was an entertaining read!
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A murder mystery set on the French Riviera with a busloads of British tourists forming a large group of suspects. Bellairs sets the scene with deft skill, showing us the seashore, the parade of expensive cars at the Casino and nightclubs, the holidaymakers in their casual clothes. 

The plot moves along with lots of detail telling the back story of each potential suspect. Inevitably, everyone has a motive for disliking or wishing to be rid of the victim, who himself turns about to be less than the perfect and honourable local dignitary he purports to be.

Bellairs is clever in the way he manipulates national stereotypes, pointing out the differences between the French police and their British counterparts. The French are implied to be devious thugs who are not to be trusted, but it is the Scotland Yard inspector who lays a trap using the very "reputation" of the French police to flush out the killer.  The only part of the denouement which failed to ring true was that one character should agree to marry another though as a plot device it was needed to cause tension and jealousy in another character.

Apart from this one small anomaly, the plot was entirely believable and I didn't spot the murderer, though the reason for the murder was particularly telling.
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My thanks to the Bellairs estate for an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed it but not as much as some of the other Littlejohn mysteries, which are funnier with fewer tiresomely stereotypical episodes. Still, this is a mild mannered melodrama from the classical age of mysteries and it is a product of its age. The story is well plotted and the clues are there to spot, although the ending was a surprise to me as well as Littlejohn, it appears.

Unusually, we find Littlejohn on the French Riviera on holiday with his wife when an excruciatingly English coach party staying nearby summon his assistance on the fatal stabbing of one of their number, a coal merchant alderman and the ex mayor of Bolchester. Littlejohn, however, must work to French police direction. This is a story first published not long after the war, so there are possible motives stemming from the unfortunate alderman’s war record with the guerilla maquis resistance, but, as Littlejohn discovers back in Bolchester without its holiday makers, there are many motives for others too. One murder leads to another - the town’s casino owner - and then another, before the melodramatic end game.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the French coastal resort and the contrast of it with the small English town of Bolchester on the edge of the Pennines and Littlejohn’s police helper there, the solidly English plod, Haddock, who knows everything about everybody in his town. The characters in the casino and the scene of the small time crooks and relatives who gather for the owner’s funeral are memorable.

The story is a bit slow by modern standards although the body count approaches a massacre by the end. The book is not quite a classic but it is a good entertainment.
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