Rating: 3.25* of five
Not precisely as expected. The first murder, one which I'd been *panting* after happening since the instant I met the Kraut Eddie Haskell character who is, disappointingly, not boiled in oil after being flayed alive and rolled in finely ground salt, was but the first salvo in war.
The War. Mm, yeah, best to put this into its time and place. England in 1951 was still under rationing. The scars of German bombing were everywhere, and the shift from staunchly capitalist to resolutely socialist government had not yet taken hold. The veterans of the fighting were, then as now, seen off with a wave and a pusillanimous "good luck!" from their erstwhile "superiors."
One of those veterans figures in the book as suspect, as well as one point on a love triangle, and strangely enough the schoolmaster-cum-confidant to the peculiarly prominent son of the nominal sleuth. He's got PTSD, as we'd now call it, after half a decade of being a murder machine in order to survive in the wilds of Croatia. And the second murder, of his love-rival, cements his place in the town's mind as The Killer.
But the sleuths? Not so sure. Neither father nor son Felse is at all convinced of Doolally Veteran Dude's desire to murder either victim. Son goes on an extended...more on this anon...search for physical evidence while Father does...does...um. Yeah.
Anyway, the two Felse men end up on the same track in the end and they discover the real murderer's identity due to the same strangely silent clue. They arrive in the same place at the same time, luckily, and they jointly score one for the forces of Right and Justice. But they do so in very different ways, and we only see Son's PoV! What?!
So this is why I'm not giving the book four or more stars. Policeman Felse is largely Father Felse in this book. He's not absent, he's just in a secondary crime-solving position, and that's not quite as satisfying as one might have imagined it to be when plotting out the book, Mme Pargeter/Peters (deceased). Oh, and that third murder? Not quite so sure it was well handled plot and position-wise.
But it was your first mystery, so I shall be kind and not fling it against the wall with panther-screeches of outraged fury.