COFFIN, SCARCELY USED
by Colin Watson
#1 The Flaxborough Chronicles
Publisher: PRELUDE | Imprint: Farrago
Pub Date: 2.22.18|
Formats available: Hardback, Paperback, Electronic
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
eARC provided by Net Galley for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
In the respectable seaside town of Flaxborough, the equally respectable councillor Harold Carobleat is laid to rest. Cause of death: pneumonia.
But he is scarcely cold in his coffin before Detective Inspector Purbright, affable and annoyingly polite, must turn out again to examine the death of Carobleat’s neighbour, Marcus Gwill, former prop. of the local rag, the Citizen. This time it looks like foul play, unless a surfeit of marshmallows had led the late and rather unlamented Mr Gwill to commit suicide by electrocution. (‘Power without responsibility’, murmurs Purbright.)
How were the dead men connected, both to each other and to a small but select band of other town worthies? Purbright becomes intrigued by a stream of advertisements Gwill was putting in the Citizen, for some very oddly named antique items…
Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay. https://www.amazon.com/Coffin-Scarcely-Used-Flaxborough-Mystery-ebook/dp/B079JHF82B
I have been enjoying classic-style detective stories set in British villages and country house parties, lately. Yes, its a bit of a niche thing. I’ve nearly run through my library’s offerings of authors/series I recognize so obviously it was time to explore new to me authors/series. I caught a glimpse of this title and, what do you know, I’d inadvertently discovered one I was unaware of that’s been around for a donkey’s age.
The Flaxborough Chronicles series has been around a while. It’s getting a fresh coat of paint with this re-release. It’s also been the basis for the British TV adaption of the series called Murder Most English.
Coffin, Scarcely Used is the opening story in a series featuring Inspector Furbright, his sergeant, Sid Love, and a whole quirky seaside community of folks. I’m not sure what time frame these are, but its definitely not recent modern though, it does fall into modern age.
So, there is a death to start things off, but not a murder. No suspicions until the next door neighbor bites it, by electrical shock, no less. Furbright doesn’t buy the whole accidental electrocution or suicide theories or, the crazed housekeepers rantings about a restless spirit on the loose. With humor and wit and cleverness he teases through fact from lie with each encounter with the dead man’s friends and family. Gwill was not well liked and he had been up to something secretive before his death.
I enjoyed having the large pool of suspicious characters and the fun twists to the puzzle. I saw through most of the lies and the misdirections, but one final twist was a lulu. I liked the detective and laughed several times at the wry humor and the play between detective and sergeant and even between detective and his boss, the chief constable.
It’s definitely a chance to step back into simpler times for just a good mystery. I was glad to note that there are several in this series and I will happily keep picking them up. If British old-style detective murder mysteries are your thing, this one is a good bet.
I rec’d this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.