This is the second of the series, and takes place in a very intriguing venue. Again the main character Sir Hilary, now under an alias because of the past debacle in which he'd found himself enmeshed, is a bit of an antihero. He probably thinks and acts much as many of us might, if we'd found ourselves in the thick of things with our own neck on the line.
Just as before, one must think in terms of an inverted Bertie Wooster and Jeeves meet James Bond and Victor/Victoria, this time in a zeppelin of all places, and again at the invitation of Agatha Christie! Bodies end up everywhere, and alias Reginald Bland is almost always on site when they do! Not to mention, trying to explain himself out of a mess. Again à la The Pink Panther.
To some extent I agree with the reviewer who found the character unappealing. He is an antihero, after all. This is no suave, sophisticated, brave in the face of adversity James Bond type. We're not intended to admire Sir Hilary/Mr. Bland--although, frankly, I've never really admired James Bond much either. One just wonders at his ability to get into messes. However, his bungled attempts to extricate himself from the absurd situations in which he finds himself, often as a dupe for others, redeems him in my opinion. He was, after all, a minor aristocrat, harboring few if any ambitions and little beyond average prejudice against his fellow man, sort of live and let live, when he was plunged into a madcap adventure that left him bereft of everything, even his identity. I wonder how well any of us would deal with it?
The mystery plot is well thought out and the clues and red herrings carefully placed throughout. It really is your basic murder mystery puzzle. Much of the difficulty for the reader is the fact that one is privy to all of Mr. Bland’s own confused musings over each incident. It’s like trying to determine “whodunit” by watching and listening to Inspector Clouseau's incompetent attempts to solve a mystery. If anything, Sir Hilary/Mr. Bland is far more engaging, because he's less impressed by his own abilities than Clouseau always is. The latter is an ass, but doesn't seem to realize it. Mr. Bland knows he's something of an idiot and accepts it with remarkable grace. If he actually solves the mystery, it's entirely down to pure luck, and he admits it. That in my opinion makes him quite a sympathetic character.
Each of the other characters/suspects is distinctive and interesting and very stereotypical. One of the most interesting aspects of these individuals and, I suspect, part of the structure of the novel is that the author seems to depend upon the reader’s knowledge of the pending Second World War. This places all sorts of possibilities into the reader’s mind that wouldn't occur to the hero, who isn't clairvoyant by any means, further confusing the issue. Cleverly done.