Friday, March 02, 2018

Book Beginnings: Coffin, Scarcely Used

Coffin, Scarcely Used, by Colin Watson (first published 1958). First book in Watson's series of Flaxborough mysteries. This is the first paragraph of Chapter One:
Considering that Mr Harold Carobleat had been in his time a town councillor of Flaxborough, a justice of the peace, a committeeman of the Unionist Club, and, reputedly, the owner of the town's first television aerial, his funeral was an uninspiring affair.
About the Book:
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… (--NetGalley)
Initial Thoughts:

Well, I think a funeral (even an uninspiring one) is a fine way to start a mystery novel, so I'm immediately intrigued. This is my introduction to Watson's series of Flaxborough novels featuring Inspector Purbright. It's sort of unusual for me to start at the beginning -- I usually jump in about midway through a series. I'm halfway through this first book, and I think I'm hooked. Purbright is a wonderful creation.

So, what do you think? Does this sound like something you'd keep reading? Or maybe you've already discovered Flaxborough and Purbright and all those quirky characters?

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


  1. What a curious beginning! And the cover is definitely intriguing. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  2. One commenter at a popular site accuses this book of being dated, and whilst technically I suppose it is, I for one, thoroughly enjoy this style and tone of vintage crime writing.

    The names of the characters alone have the power to make me smile, before I even get to know them and I already have visions of a minutely described series of events, before the big 'reveal' as to the name of the miscreant(s).

    This author is totally new to me, but I shall definitely be adding his name to my list and I thank you for sharing such a good book :)


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