Westmorland Alone by Ian Sansom, £12.99 (hardback)

IN THIS entertaining whodunnit, Swanton Morley - aka the People's Professor - is continuing his idiosyncratic tour of 1930s England as he endeavours to compile a history of its various counties.

It is, in fact, the third book in Ian Sansom's County Guide series, following on from The Norfolk Mystery and Death in Devon.

In Westmorland Alone, the professor, his daughter Miriam and assistant Stephen Sefton (who is something of a Watsonian narrator to Morley's Holmesian sleuth) visit Appleby following a tragic rail crash.

When a woman's body is discovered at a local archaeological dig at Shap, Morley suspects murder and the trio become preoccupied with solving the mystery.

Familiar Westmorland landmarks abound, as you might expect, with the Settle-Carlisle railway looming large in the story.

The book is also, in part, an amusing celebration of such north country pastimes as gypsy fairs and Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. And it is peopled with characterful individuals encountered by the trio encounter, including a young Westmorland Gazette reporter - described as 'a chap with a face like a butcher's boy' .

Sansom has a thoroughly accessible writing style - once described by a Times Literary Supplement critic as 'cheerily old-fashioned' - which carries the reader jauntily along.