His dialogue though idiosyncratic can normally be understood but like all working class boys it is liberally sprinkled with strange phrases and a passing nod to cockney.
To help non-UK readers (and some UK based as well) through this novel here are some translations of the more obscure words and phrases used by the senior detective.
Claret: blood. Blood that is spilled on to pavements after a fight or attack usually dries to the colour of claret, often regarded as the Englishman’s wine of choice.
Trick cyclist: psychiatrist. A simple rhyming phrase used to demean the profession by those who disagree with them.
Porridge: a spell inside prison. Deemed to refer to the breakfast that used to be served there and made more famous by a British sitcom of the same name starring Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher who is doing a spell of porridge in HMP Slade.
Crazy Gang: The comedy group made its first appearance in 1931 and was made up of three popular music hall variety acts; (Charlie) Naughton and (Jimmy) Gold, (Jimmy) Nervo and (Teddy) Knox, (Bud) Flanagan and (Chesney) Allen and the unsubtle Frenchman ‘Monsewer’ Eddie Gray. They continued as a group and as double acts until the mid 1960’s making regular appearances at the Royal Variety Performance where they were a favourite of the Queen Mother.
Sherbet: a slang term for an alcoholic beverage, usually beer.
Brown bread: a famous piece of cockney rhyming slang for dead.
Dastardley and Mutley: a popular children’s cartoon
Pony: more cockney rhyming slang. Pony and trap, crap. Talking a lot of nonsense.
Hard earned: money, wages, salary.
The Book of Life is used to refer to situations where experience of the world will tell you that a certain way or working or approaching a problem is doomed to failure owing to the naivety or commercial innocence of the person trying to push the plan through. It has its genesis in the Circle of Life where most plans tend to come full circle because of or in spite of the actions of those involved in them. Taken together they form the basis of a level headed philosophy.