Movie idol Hal Vale arrives on the Isle of Man to film his next movie, co-starring another movie idol, Monique Dol. They briefly attend a welcome cocktail party, and then Vale returns to his room to get ready for dinner. An hour later, his valet discovers the star’s body in the bathtub, along with his electric shaver still plugged into the outlet. As the valet had just shaved him before his bath (and being dismissed), the death turns out to be murder. And Monique Dol is nowhere to be found; she hurriedly left the hotel where they were staying with the film crew and flew to London.
Inspector Thomas Littlejohn of Scotland Yard had been on the same plane as Vale, intending to visit with an old friend for a brief holiday. So much for the holiday. Littlejohn soon finds himself flying back and forth between the Isle of Man, London, and Nice as the case takes on international dimensions and involves all kinds of possible motives and suspects.
Death of a Tin God by George Bellairs was first published in 1961. George Bellairs is a pseudonym of British author Harold Blundell (1902-1982), who was first a banker and philanthropist before turning his hand to writing mystery stories. He wrote more than 50 Inspector Littlejohn mysteries, and also wrote four other books under the pseudonym of Hilary Langdon. He also wrote comedy for radio and was a newspaper columnist and freelance writer. His Littlejohn mysteries, many set outside London, provide a perceptive look at small towns and minor cities.
In this story, Littlejohn is relentless in tracking and questioning suspects and witnesses. Early on he learns that Vale was not the most amiable of men. The people surrounding him don’t seem to be at all admirable themselves, and Littlejohn has to sift through fears and hatreds – and possible danger to himself and the investigation.
Death of a Tin God is a fast-paced mystery, with some new development happening on almost every page.