Whatever can have happened to Lil?
Flaxborough butcher Arthur Spain is worried that his sister-in-law hasn’t been in touch lately, so he pays her a visit. But Lil’s not at home, and by her porch door are a dozen bottles of curdling milk… Alarmed, he calls in the local police, D.I. Purbright and his ever-reliable Sergeant Sid Love.
It transpires Lilian Bannister is the second middle-aged woman in the town to mysteriously vanish, and the link is traced to a local lonely hearts agency called Handclasp House. So when a vulnerable-seeming lady with the charming title of Lucy Teatime signs up for a romantic rendezvous, the two detectives try extra hard to look out for her. But Miss Teatime has a few surprises of her own up her dainty sleeve!
Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay.
What people are saying about the Flaxborough series -
“Colin Watson wrote the best English detective stories ever. They work beautifully as whodunnits but it's really the world he creates and populates ... and the quality of the writing which makes these stories utterly superior.”
“The Flaxborough Chronicles are satires on the underbelly of English provincial life, very well observed, very funny and witty, written with an apt turn of phrase ... A complete delight.”
“If you have never read Colin Watson - start now. And savour the whole series.”
“Light-hearted, well written, wickedly observed and very funny - the Flaxborough books are a joy. Highly recommended.”
“How English can you get? Watson's wry humour, dotty characters, baddies who are never too bad, plots that make a sort of sense. Should I end up on a desert island Colin Watson's books are the ones I'd want with me.”
“A classic of English fiction... Yes, it is a crime novel, but it is so much more. Wonderful use of language, wry yet sharp humour and a delight from beginning to end.”
“Colin Watson threads some serious commentary and not a little sadness and tragedy within his usual excellent satire on small town morality and eccentricities.”
“Re-reading it now, I am struck by just how many laugh-out-loud moments it contains. A beautifully written book.”
“As always, hypocricy and skulduggery are rife, and the good do not necessarily emerge triumphant. Set aside plenty of time to read this book - you won't want to put it down once you've started it!”
“Colin Watson writes in such an understated, humorous way that I follow Inspector Purbright's investigation with a smile on my face from start to finish.”
“If you enjoy classic mysteries with no graphic violence and marvellously well drawn characters then give the Flaxborough series a try - you will not be disappointed.”
Editorial reviews –
“Watson has an unforgivably sharp eye for the ridiculous.” New York Times
“Flaxborough is Colin Watson's quiet English town whose outward respectability masks a seething pottage of greed, crime and vice ... Mr Watson wields a delightfully witty pen dripped in acid.” Daily Telegraph
“Arguably the best of comic crime writers, delicately treading the line between wit and farce ... Funny, stylish and good mysteries to boot.” Time Out
“A great lark, full of preposterous situations and pokerfaced wit.” Cecil Day-Lewis
“One of the best. As always with Watson, the writing is sharp and stylish and wickedly funny!” Literary Review
"The rarest of comic crime writers, one with the gift of originality." Julian Symons
“Flaxborough, that olde-worlde town with Dada trimmings.” Sunday Times
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 42 members
My favourite of the Flaxborough Chronicles to date with the introduction of the divine Miss Teatime! And, in an age of Tinder hook-ups, the dangers of a 'marriage bureau' are too funny. Wilson's dry wit and wicked skewering of social pretensions are as sharp as ever - very sly, very droll humour.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. DI Purbright and Sergeant Love investigate the disappearance of two Flaxborough women. The only apparent link between them is that they have both used a marriage bureau recently: did they meet the personal responsible for their disappearance through that agency? Lucy Teatime, new to Flaxborough, signs up for introductions at the same bureau: will she be the next victim or is there more to Miss Teatime than meets the eye? This was very enjoyable: light without being "cozy", and with gentle humour throughout. I laughed aloud when Miss Teatime realises she needs to be holding a flower to identify herself to her blind date and accidentally pulls up an entire plant from the flowerbed beside her park bench. It was cleverly plotted and I did not see the ending coming.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Farrago for an advance copy of Lonelyheart 4122, the fourth novel in the Flaxborough series, originally published in 1967. When Henry Spain contacts Inspector Purbright about the disappearance of his sister-in-law, Lillian Bannister, alarm bells ring as they are already looking into the disappearance of Martha Reckitt, another comfortably off lady in her 40s. When they find a link to a local dating agency, Handclasp House, they find another potential victim in the form of newly arrived Lucy Teatime but she is not exactly as she seems. I thoroughly enjoyed Lonelyheart 4122 which is a fun romp through dating 1960s style with some elegant twists. Handclasp House is apparently more genteel and discerning than modern dating sites with a steep joining fee and a complicated numbering system to protect the clients and while Mr Watson is happy to poke fun at their system he has plenty of sympathy for the lonely who are looking for companionship and commitment. Much of the joy, however, in the novel comes from Lucilla Edith Cavell Teatime and her machinations. She is not at all what she seems and each chapter brings a little enlightenment. I spent most of the novel trying to work out her agenda but was still surprised when the reveal came and I just loved the ending - pure genius. Lonelyheart 4122 is another good addition to a highly amusing series so I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Miss Lucilla Teatime is the star of, and a most wonderfully amusing character in, this fourth instalment in the Flaxborough Chronicles. Purbright and Love take a bit of a backseat in the solving of the disappearances of two ladies whose only connection is with the very discreet local marriage agency. The writing is so good, the humour both gentle and pointed. The solution is not difficult to fathom but it is how Watson gets us there that is the joy of this novel. Highly recommended.
I have not read any of the other books in this series. This book actually made me very interested into picking them up!
The fourth in the Flaxborough mysteries from Colin Watson is, as expected, another joy. Purbright is on the case of missing persons in his own inimitable fashion. Wry, biting, witty humour, madcap characters and superb writing make this extremely readable and immensely enjoyable. Vintage crime on top form.
When I came across this cosy English mystery on Netgalley, I didn't realise that it was a rerelease of a title from the 60s, which certainly explains some of the language and outdated schools of thought regarding women. However, despite its flaws that are down to the time it was written, it was an enjoyable, easy read, a quintessentially English country mystery, rather Midsomer Murders-esque. It follows the police as they try to solve the mystery of the disappearing women, and the introduction of the enigmatic Lucille Teatime, whom the police believe to be a potential victim but who seems to be conducting her own investigation. I thought the story was going to be predictable but actually the ending surprised me which I loved. The story never took itself too seriously which made for a gentle read, and I'd happily check out others in the series.
Different from the previous novels, the police have primarily one mystery to solve that of two missing women who visited the Handclasp House Marriage Bureau. The Bureau was owned and operated by the Staunches. The author described the Staunches as having great insight and ingenuity. I find that the author himself has this same trait that can be found in all of his books. A new main character is introduced in this book a Miss Teatime. The police solve the mystery of the missing women with the considerable help of Miss Teatime. We are still left with the conundrum of who is Miss Teatime.
Colin Watson's Flaxborough series is smart, tightly plotted, and beautifully written. This entry in the series continues the story of Detective Purbright and Sergeant Love, but the main character is a new one: Lucilla Teatime. Miss Teatime appears to be a well-heeled lady of a certain age, newly arrived in Flaxborough and looking for a romantic companion to help her settle into her community. She goes to a matrimonial agency -- the precursor of Match.com -- for help. But Purbright and Love have begin to worry that the matrimonial agency is not quite what it seems. Miss Teatime is definitely not what she seems. The story of these three individuals and the nefarious inhabitants of Flaxborough is lively and filled with marvelous word pictures of the fictional Flaxborough. Each book in the series is quite different from the others, but they're all satisfying.
The Flaxborough Chronicles feature Inspector Purbright in the quiet town of Flaxborough. This fourth investigation for D.I. Purbright has the Inspector looking into the mysterious disappearances of two local ladies. They both have not been seen for some time and friends and family are concerned. A common thread is that they both used the services of a dating service called the Handclasp House. Surely one of their possible suitors is not responsible for their disappearances? When a lady newly arrived in town signs up for the service, Purbright assigns D.S. Love to tail her and make sure she is safe, as well as keeping an eye out for the possible villain. The lady in question, Miss Lucy Teatime, has some plans of her own that complicate the surveillance, and readers are left to turn the pages as quickly as possible to reach the climax and see if the police win or if Miss Teatime becomes victim number 3. Readers have already met a few of Purbright's fellows on the force: Chief Constable Chubb, Detective Sergeant Love, Sergeant Malley the coroner's officer, along with some of the town's other inhabitants. Now the cast expands yet again as more of the townsfolk are introduced - Mr. Maddox, manager of the Roebuck Hotel; Leonard Leaper, a former newspaper reporter who has become a minister; Detective Constable Pook, who becomes flustered when he accidentally wanders into the ladies undergarments section of a store; and Mrs. Staunch, the proprietress of the dating service. Although there are many online dating services available now, the quaintness of the system in use 60 years ago when the books were first written is one of the enticements of the story. Imagine having to send your lonely heart letters to a service, having them forward the letters on, and then the whole thing happening in reverse for the replies. One could only hope that the service was trustworthy and did not take a peek at the notes passing through their hands. Readers who enjoy Miss Marple and mysteries set in small English towns full of eccentric residents will welcome having this series drawn to their attention.
A classic English treat! I am reading everything I can find by this author now. The book was well paced and I enjoyed the protagonist very much. Will be looking forward to more in this series.
These books need to be back in print and I am glad that they are. Flaxborough is a town that defies logic and in this volume the butcher Arthur is concerned that he has not heard from his sister in law. I fine these books to be witty and smart and downright enjoyable reads and I bet you will too! If you like British humor and a good mystery look no further.