A young girl goes missing, and the local constabulary soon realizes they should probably call in the Yard. It's just their luck that the Yard sends Wilfred Dover, along with Sgt. MacGregor, to their aid. When he arrives at the scene of the crime, he's faced with an assortment of rather eccentric people (and some who are just plainly weird) who, as it turns out, all had a reason to do away with the girl. He deduces that she didn't leave of her own accord, and is either being held as a kidnap victim or worse, she is dead. Normally the wheels of Scotland Yard detection would begin turning in this case, but Dover would much rather have a nap.
This is a rather comic sort of mystery -- Dover is an obnoxious man who relies on luck and the work of others to solve cases rather than his own efforts. He's a slob -- one of the characters watched in horror as dandruff flaked off of his head. He loves to eat, has been known to put away the pint or two, and his detection skills leave a lot to be desired.
While some of the characters come off as being a bit over the top, this novel works and it works well. Dover is a person with absolutely zero redeeming qualities, but you can't help but like him. The book was written before political correctness entered the picture, so the author allows her characters to speak their minds. It's entirely different than anything I've ever read, and it's a treasure. I hope the rest of the series is as good as this series opener.
Die-hard fans of serious British mysteries might find this book a little out there and silly, but there is actually a good mystery at the core of this novel. There are a wealth of suspects, some red herrings, and the solution is satisfying. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who reads British mysteries -- but beware: it stands police procedurals on their heads. If you're looking for something entirely different, you have to give this one a try.