George Gently’s 6 Most Memorable Cases

Think the 1960s are all peace, love and long hair? Not in George Gently’s world, they aren’t…

Inspector George Gently


It's easy to forget that memories of World War Two were still very fresh in people's minds during the 1960s. We might think of the two eras as completely distinct, but the violence, rage and prejudices of the 40s continued to haunt everyday Britons. That's the powerful theme of this story, which sees Gently - a veteran of the war himself - delve into still-lingering grievances when the corpse of a wealthy German businessman is found in a harbour. A straightforward case of anti-German sentiment leading to a xenophobic murder? It seems likely at first, particularly as the dead man was once a POW. But as the strands unravel, it seems the case is somehow tied to the British military, and things get more complicated than even Gently anticipates.


An old, eccentric chap is found dead in his house. Not the kind of crime that will trouble too many headlines. But for Gently and Bacchus, it's the starting point for a case that packs an immense emotional wallop. Just who was this old man, and does the setting of his death - a decrepit old mansion - have any relevance? Things get murkier when it becomes apparent a local property developer wants to hide certain revelations from the coppers, and that the prime suspect in the man's death has a long-standing link with the mansion. Our detectives have to keep digging to unearth ugly, long-buried truths, and things get personal for Gently when he calls on the help of a certain old flame.


Despite being far away from the cosmopolitan buzz of London, Gently and Bacchus get a taste of the new sense of sexual liberation when a decadent gentleman's club opens in Newcastle. Not that there's anything legally objectionable about that, but when the body of one of the young hostesses - or "foxes" - is found in a local church, it leads the two detectives straight into the conflict between the club's suave American owner and a local church which vigorously opposes everything the club stands for. The big questions of the 60s, about religion and permissiveness, morality and hedonism, are all flung into the air, and Bacchus himself faces a moral dilemma when he falls in lust with one of the foxes...


The theft of some passports may not sound like the most traumatic of cases for Gently and Bacchus, but things take a very upsetting turn when a woman connected with the crime is discovered dead on a beach, right alongside her infant son. The victim's ex-boyfriend is the natural suspect, but this is no simply crime of passion. The baby is mixed-race, and it turns out the dead woman was involved with an Arabic man. This being the 1960s, many locals don't take a particularly enlightened view of her personal life, and what follows is a tangled tale of forbidden love and underworld conspiracies, with the hidden world of Arab gang wars thrown into the light. It's a surprising tale, especially for anyone thinks questions about Muslim immigration are exclusive to our generation.


Politics, sex, greed and murder. It makes quite the heady cocktail for Gently and Bacchus, when they're called in to investigate the death of a mill manager who has apparently committed suicide. The revelation that a bunch of money has gone missing, and that the dead man had been embroiled in an affair, sets alarm bells ringing for our canny coppers, and before long they're assessing a rogue's gallery of potential suspects, including an insolent mill foreman, a nervous mod, and the man's angry widow. And that's only the beginning, because the case soon encompasses the aspirations of a local Labour candidate, and a secretive organization most people know very little about...


While Gently and Bacchus often seem far removed from the nuclear-strength social changes of the 1960s, they're thrust right into the epicenter of it all when a prominent academic is found dead after a CND rally. Our detectives are sent to his university, which is a hotbed of radical rebellion - a place where young men and women are embracing a new era of sex, left-wing politics and liberation. Not exactly the natural environment for a pair of hard-bitten coppers - a fact that's particularly rammed home when Bacchus winds up in a gay bar. With the 1966 World Cup on the horizon, the time really are a-changin'...