cover image Dover: The Collected Short Stories

Dover: The Collected Short Stories

Joyce Porter. Foul Play Press, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-342-5

Scotland Yard's Inspector Wilfred Dover may be the least heroic hero in mystery fiction. Grossly overweight and unfailingly surly, Dover insults those around him (especially his patient underling, Sergeant MacGregor) while also committing gaffes worthy of Inspector Clouseau. In these 11 stories, Dover commonly arrives at crime scenes just in time to quit for lunch, then naps while his assistants fret about such mundane matters as clues, motives and witnesses. In ``Dover Tangles with High Finance,'' the inspector offends a gaggle of corporate directors whose chairman was poisoned. In the humbler precincts of ``Dover Pulls a Rabbit,'' the porcine policeman must literally squeeze himself into a tiny cottage where a woman has been beaten to death-after which his unpleasant behavior actually leads to the culprit. Porter (1924-1990) makes her bumptious lout incredibly engaging. The solutions generally ring true, for Porter plants clues in the best British whodunit tradition, simultaneously honoring the genre's conventions even as she sends it up. (Nov.)