The fifth in Colin Watson’s Flaxborough Chronicles series is on the blog today – a re-release of the original published in 1968, this brings another murder and mystery to the little English village. Please read on for my review of
Charity Ends at Home
An anonymous letter in which the writer is in fear for their life arrives on the desk of Constable Chubb, but our intrepid Purbright is inclined to believe it is somehow tied to the murder of local resident and charity ‘maven’ Henrietta Palgrove. Several suspects are possible, and the help in uncovering the perpetrator is never-ending with the return of Lucy Teatime, new resident, and a PI named Montgomery Hive. From the start the story takes off into several directions (often spinning off Purbright’s pointed observations) as the habits, behaviors and the penchant for charity work / workers to get, shall we say, overly involved in their work. With so many different people investigating and discovering (but not necessarily sharing) information, the eccentricities and unique flavor of Flaxborough comes forward in each resident. All of the ‘investigating’ factions are often at cross purposes, making Purbright’s job a bit more convoluted and complicated than necessary, but this element simply adds delight for readers. While the story has several clever, and funny, moments: a particular delight is in the careers evening at the local school where the PI, masquerading as a photographer and thinking he’s to present at a prize-giving devolves with hilarious results after some pointed asides from students and a few drinks in.
Oh the mystery is solved and the culprit unmasked, but the delightful writing and character observations combine to bring a more cynical look at the penchant for charity work, the purpose of the charities and the secrets buried behind the public faces of the town residents. Watson’s prose, observations and a sense that much of the ‘daily life’ is riddled with nonsensical traditions based more in appearance than meaning, the story is a true delight. A bit slower to the reveal than a more contemporary mystery, these are must-reads for their cleverness in construct and well-developed, presented and commented upon characters that brings readers a sense of place and time. Another in the long line of writers of British mysteries that is sure to please fans of Christie – these are a clever escape sure to engage.
Title: Charity Ends at Home
Author: Colin Watson
Series: Flaxborough Chronicles #5
Also in this series: Coffin Scarcely Used, Bump in the Night, Hopjoy Was Here, Lonelyheart 4122, Plaster Sinners
Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery, Historic Elements, Setting: Britain
Published by: Farrago
Published on: 19 April, 2018 (re-release)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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"I am in great danger ... I know that murder is going to be the reward for my uncomplaining loyalty."
This letter containing heartfelt and urgent pleas for help is received by three very eminent citizens of Flaxborough, including the Chief Constable himself. So when one of the town’s most tireless charity workers, Mrs Henrietta Palgrove, is found the wrong way up in her garden pond, a connection seems likely.
Yet Detective Inspector Purbright finds the case does not quite add up and it takes the acute wits of his old friend, the ever-charming Miss Lucilla Teatime, as well as the more unwitting help of Mortimer Hive, indifferent private investigator and accomplished ladies’ man, to tease out the real murderer.
Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.