The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs

the body in the dumb river


A Bellairs title that put me out of a reading slump!! A tried and tested method – I read Littlejohn series when I feel there’s a bout of reading slump in queue and guess what? Goodbye, reading slump! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

I discovered Littlejohn series at the beginning of this year and I have enjoyed almost all the titles I have read so far. These books are being republished by British Library Publishing and Agora Books. So, a reprint a month is to be expected.

It’s pouring cats and dogs and the whole of Ely is flooded. Jim Lane has been stabbed in the back and his body’s found floating in the Dumb River. It’s called the Dumb River because it usually flows silently. But tonight, the river is raging with anger – expressing her sorrow, perhaps?

Littlejohn is in town so he’s asked to help the local police with this murder case. Soon, they realise that the dead man led a double life. He was known as James Teasdale elsewhere and lived with his wife and three daughters. With floods, dysfunctional family and much more, Littlejohn has a hard time finding the culprit.


‘Just as we passed it, the dead man’s head sort of appeared round the tree-trunk, peepin’ at us, like. Like a turnip, it looked. Matter o’ fact, I sez to Joel, that’s a funny turnip, that is. And then we see what it was. Gave us both a proper turn. Didn’t it, Joel?’


With Littlejohn in picture, quirky characters and their quirky doings, a quirkier story and witty jokes are to be expected. This is what I like about this series. Consider Inspector Diss for example. Yeah, the guy is called Diss but he’s pretty shy and charming. Cromwell and his elephant of a suitcase are not to be missed either.

One also gets to see the charming and caring side of Cromwell in this story. Martha Gomms, Jim’s mistress, is busy clearing the sludge from the flood and Cromwell lends her a helping hand. Then, the duo sit to drink some tea and he offers to do the dishes and wipe them too! Aww! Martha complains that Littlejohn never did anything of this sort and calls Cromwell a friend. *Blush Blush*

Jim Lane aka James Teasdale was not a commercial traveller as his wife suggested. He runs a hoop-la stall on fairgrounds along with his mistress, Martha Gomms. The man’s had a tough marital life so far. A nagging wife, distant daughters and pain-in-the-backside father-in-law, the poor man is always blamed for anything and everything. His sisters-in-law are no good either. The Teasdale house doesn’t have an air of mourning. Its members are busy drinking, eating, leaving dirty dishes on the table and whatnot, but nobody is sad that the man of the house is no more.

Of all the Littlejohn novels I have read so far, I found The Body in the Dumb River to be a tad different. There are a couple of red herrings to put you off the track. Although the identity of the killer is made kinda obvious towards the end, there is a twist – I really went off track here and thought that Littlejohn will admit defeat and this case would remain unsolved. But if you know Littlejohn, you know that this is impossible! πŸ˜€

Entertaining characters, enjoyable and interesting story, what else do you need in a crime novel? Oh yeah, throw in a murder or two, some quirkiness, and you have a super-duper Littlejohn mystery. πŸ˜€


Second Opinion:

Laurie says “Not a satisfying read. But I’m not giving up on Bellairs yet because when it’s good, it’s really good.” Read her review here.

The Puzzle Doctor says “The issue I had was that the plot was just a bit too straightforward.” Read his review here.



Writing Style: 4.5/5

Plot/Story: 4/5

Character Development: 4/5

Ending: 4.5/5


Overall Rating: 4.25/5





Title: The Body in the Dumb River: A Yorkshire Mystery

Author: George Bellairs

Published on: 10th August 2019

Genre: Crime Classics/Mystery

Purchase Links: | Book Depository


Featured Image Credits: Goodreads

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