I have always been something of a fan of crime novels, so I’m always on the look-out for series that I haven’t tried yet. I picked up Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy, knowing that it was part of a long-running series and had previously been adapted as a TV series, and figured that I had a pretty good chance of finding something that I would like. 


Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy follows the eponymous Superintendent Wycliffe when he is summoned to the village of Kergwyns to investigate the murder of a young woman known locally as Pussy Welles. He soon finds that she had a reputation as something of a man-eater, resulting in a multitude of suspects all with credible reasons for wanting her dead, but no-one coming forward to make them clear. A further layer of complexity is added when it becomes clear that Pussy was expecting to die and had left behind a series of pointers for the police to find. 
I expected to like this a lot more than I did. If I were to point out anything that really stopped me from liking Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy, then it would probably be that it didn’t really feel much like your average crime novel. Firstly, Wycliffe doesn’t make a huge deal of sense as the main detective as he is too much of an introvert. Being an introvert is not in and of itself a barrier to being a good literary detective, as my favourite Sherlock Holmes can easily attest to, but Wycliffe seemed to take it too far. In the entirety of the novel, there is only one other police officer that he interacts with directly, and every one of those encounters is characterised by being antagonistic and rarely all that enlightening as regards the details of the mystery. Additionally, his style of investigation is peculiarly languid, more a matter of pestering the other residents of the village for gossip until it matches up with the physical evidence that his underlings collect on his behalf. It just didn’t sit right with me at all. 
I could probably have forgiven it if the suspects were at all interesting. But no, every couple involved consisted of a henpecked, cheating husband and a wife who somehow didn’t meet the standards that would make her a “proper woman”. Even the gay couple, referred to unflatteringly as the queers, was made up of a screaming queen and yet another henpecked husband. Honestly, the only interesting one was Dampiers, a children’s author who keeps to himself due to having a hunchback, but even that is ruined when the book decides that deformity or disability must equal mental instability which must thus equal EVIL. I just stopped caring after a while, because there was no-one that I could honestly say had any depth to them that didn’t irritate me in some way. 
If you’re looking for a crime series to immerse yourself in, I personally wouldn’t bother with Wycliffe. His style of detecting is more or less that of a paid gossipmonger and he doesn’t seem to want to be there any more than his suspects do. In addition, the suspects become a homogenous glob of irritation and selfishness. The scenery sounds nice at least. 2/5 
Next review: Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn 
Signing off, 
Nisa.