In my quest for fictional representations of Romney Marsh, as with Doctor Syn, my eyes lighted on a copy of Leo Bruce's Death on Romney Marsh. First published in 1968, it's another Carolus Deene mystery and it's certainly an example of Bruce's agreeable storytelling style, heavily based on dialogue. There isn't, in fact, too much description of Romney Marsh, although in the first chapter we're told that the low-lying lands 'cover even today some of the loneliest country in southern England', while names like Dymchurch and Dungeness suggest Swinburne's 'mile on mile on mile of desolation' (a slight mis-quote from his poem 'By the North Sea').
Carolus is visiting his aunt, Vicky Morrow, who rents a house on the Marsh called Mortboys. The chap who owns it, a man called Cuchran, wants her out of the place so that there can be 'development' (it's an eternal issue in Britain...) Relations between Cuchran and Miss Morrow are very poor, because she has long accused him of murdering his first wife - for the insurance money, as well as to inherit her property.
Carolus sets off to negotiate with Cuchran and finds him to be suitably unpleasant and clearly with something to hide. In the end, Carolus manages to persuade Cuchran to relent on his plans, and there the matter rests for some time. But then Carolus's interest in the case is re-ignited by the mysterious disappearance of Cuchran's enigmatic old butler, Mowlett.
I enjoyed the fact that this is quite an unorthodox story, with various unlikely twists and turns, all presented with Leo Bruce's customary wit. He really was an engaging writer. The main problem with the book is that the crime at the heart of the story is far-fetched, not because there is over-reliance on coincidence, but because the actions of the people in question are almost impossible to believe. So, no masterpiece, but a pleasant if undemanding read.