'The Methods of Sergeant Cluff' turns out to be the second book in a series, and unfortunately I picked it up to take on holiday because it was the shorter book without actually checking, or even thinking about it. I've also probably read it a bit early, it was available at the Bodies From The Library day but isn't generally released until September. Never mind.
The reason I'm mildly regretting not reading the books in order is that this one clearly takes place in the aftermath of the first one, and there's a clear assumption that the reader should know what happened. It doesn't affect the central plot but it did leave me with lots of questions. Happily I can answer them as soon as I get home.
'The Methods of Sergeant Cluff' was originally published in 1961 but it could be any time between 1930 and the 1980's, and the only way I can think to describe it is as hard boiled Yorkshire noir. Sergeant Cluff is a Gunnershaw man born and bred and about as chatty as you would expect a middle aged Yorkshire man to be (not very chatty), and I must admit that at times this makes following the action tricky - but you get used to it.
Meanwhile an attractive blond has been found dead in the street with more money about her than she could have got from her day job. There's a local youth who seemed besotted from her and seen running from the scene, but Cluff doesn't think it's as simple as that. There's the girls boss too, and something just feels off.
The actual outcome is as noir as you like, with a suitable sting in the tail. It's not precisely a whodunnit - there aren't enough clues to solve the puzzle, it's all much more psychological than that - and none the worse for it.
I understand that the Gil North titles have divided people a bit, and also that this was a TV series back in the day. I'm coming down on the bit of a fan side, once I'd got into the rhythm of the book I really enjoyed it and as the end draws near and the tension ratchets up it was both exciting and shocking in equal measure.