Inspector Wilfred Dover, the disgrace and shame of Scotland Yard, is once more on the loose, stepping with oafish insensibility on the lives of the guilty—everyone in Dover’s book is guilty until somehow proven innocent—as he investigates the murder of a local construction tycoon in the middle of an earthquake and landslide that nearly demolished a remote English village. Sergeant MacGregor, poor fellow, comes along as keeper, provider of free cigarettes and booze, and an unheeded voice in defense of British fair play. Unfortunately for MacGregor, Dover’s accommodations are not up to the standard of his majesty (it is, after all, a disaster area) and life is grim all around. If the sleepy little village of Sully Martin thought it had seen the worst that fate had to offer, it just didn’t know Dover.

The case is one of such complexity that the talents of a Holmes or a Maigret, at least, are required. But all we get is Dover, the man whose murky mind may, just may, blunder through the mud and accidentally trap the murderer. Meanwhile, can England survive him?

JOYCE PORTER introduced the Falstaff of detective tradition with Dover One. This was followed by Dover Two and Dover Three, Dover and the Uhkindest Cut of All, and Dover Goes to Pott. Inspector Dover has made an indelible mark (or is it a stain) on the history of the art of detection. Miss Porter’s other characters include the Hon. Constance Morrison-Burke, a rather strange relation to Miss Jane Marple, and Eddie Brown, the world’s most reluctant spy.

Books by Joyce Porter


Dover Strikes Again

A Meddler and Her Murder

Rather a Common Sort of Crime

Dover Goes to Pott

Neither a Candle nor a Pitchfork

The Chinks in the Curtain

Dover and the Unkindest Cut of All

Sour Cream with Everything

Dover Three

Dover Two

Dover One


Copyright © 1970 by Joyce Porter

This edition first published in 1991 by Foul Play Press,

an imprint of The Countryman Press. Inc.,

Woodstock, Vermont 05091

ISBN: 978-0-88150-211-4

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

To David Aubrey Cuttill, with humble affection



Even twenty-five years in the police had not tarnished Superintendent Underbarrow’s basic serenity and good nature. He made it almost a point of honour never to get hot around the collar about everything. His chief constable had decided to call Scotland Yard in – so what? It was no skin off Superintendent Underbarrow’s nose. Good luck to ’em, that was his attitude. And in the case, the poor beggars were going to need it. Well, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? You only call the Yard in when you haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of solving the thing yourself.

His large ears caught the sound of an approaching train. Slowly and deliberately he consulted his watch. Aye, this’d be it – and pretty well on time for once. He eased his peaked cap off his forehead and pulled his tunic straight. These were not the gestures of a nervous man. The superintendent merely wanted to look his best. There was no point in encouraging these London fellows to think that everybody outside the Metropolis was a gawping country bumpkin with straw in his hair.

The signal light slipped from red to orange and a young lout in porter’s uniform emerged from the waiting room.

Of course Superintendent Underbarrow shouldn’t have been standing on this station platform at all, not by rights he shouldn’t. It wasn’t his job to act as a one-man welcome committee to a couple of blooming detectives. He was uniformed branch himself, and proud of it. Somebody from the plain-clothes mob should have been doing this. Or the chief constable himself, if it came to that. The trouble was they’d all got cold feet. Superintendent Underbarrow chuckled softly to himself. Aye, cold feet! As if these murder squad chaps weren’t as human as the rest of us. All right – so everything hadn’t exactly been done according to Cocker. These fellows would understand the difficulties – wouldn’t they? – and muck in like everybody else had done. Superintendent Underbarrow chuckled again. Muck in? That was an apt phrase if ever he’d coined one!

With a hoarse scream the express came pounding into the station but Superintendent Underbarrow stood his ground quietly and confidently. If the first-class carriages didn’t stop directly opposite him, he’d eat his hat.

The quiet confidence was fully justified. The train rocked to a halt and a second or two later one of the first-class carriage doors opened. Superintendent Underbarrow watched placidly as a handsome young man struggled out on to the platform with a couple of heavy suitcases. Apart from a middle-aged lady up at the front, nobody else was alighting from the train. A faint frown creased Superintendent Underbarrow’s cheerful features and he examined the young man more closely. Suede boots, pink shirt and a camel-hair overcoat that had cost sixty guineas if it had cost a penny. He looked more like one of those la-di-da male models than a decent, hard-working copper.

The handsome young man turned back to the train and began lugging out yet a third suitcase. Superintendent Underbarrow’s face cleared. The murder bag or he was a Dutchman!

The handsome young man still hadn’t finished. He was now assisting an older, bigger and uglier man down on to the platform and getting heartily cursed for his pains in the process. Superintendent Underbarrow relaxed. Ah, this was more like it! One of the old school, this! Bowler hat, scruffy black boots and a face to match! Superintendent Underbarrow began to move forward.

The porter skipped merrily along the train, slammed the door shut and flashed a two-fingered signal to the guard. The diesel motors cut down to a soft purr and the train pulled smoothly away.

The handsome young man turned as Superintendent Underbarrow approached and then stiffened

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