Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Coffin, Scarcely Used, by Colin Watson

Farrago, February 2018
210 pages, Kindle edition
First published 1958

Description (from NetGalley):
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.

My Thoughts:

I am so happy to have discovered Colin Watson's Flaxborough Chronicles! Coffin, Scarcely Used is the first book in the long-running series, and I'm a little surprised that I've never even heard of the books before now. It's true, they're a trifle dated today — of course, you could say the same thing about the works of any of the other classic crime writers. But the clever word play and slightly wacky humor are still very fresh, and Inspector Purbright is an absolute delight. I do believe I've found a new favorite mystery series!

(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through the NetGalley website. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)

Rating: ★★★★

Notable Quotes:
The waitress drifted near, eyed them with sad disapproval, and retired to lean against the further wall like a martyr turned down by fastidious lions. (Loc.550)
'...The remark stuck in her mind. It's a very narrow mind,' Love explained. (Loc.645)
'...We're rather badly off for crime round here. Nastiness is as much as most of them can rise to.' (Loc.1720)
Since the war, the excitements of the place had dwindled to routine drunkenness at the week-end, the odd fight or two, and a little listless wife-beating in such households where that indulgence could be enjoyed without endangering a television set. (Loc.1865)

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge .


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