Originally published in 1962, this rerelease of the third in the Flaxborough Chronicles from Colin Watson is on the blog today – another classic British mystery featuring DI Purbright on yet another case, this one a clever mix of humor and misdirection in
Hopjoy Was Here
Brian Hopjoy and his roommate disappear from their rented lodgings at 14 Beatrice Avenue, and again it is up to DI Purbright and his erstwhile sidekick Sergeant Love are called in to investigate the strange goings-on. Although, none of the neighbors has actually voiced (in public) their concerns, the story quickly becomes a series of impressions and sharp wit as Purbright dissembles the neighbors’ impressions, comments and the questions that just muck up everything when the Cold War paranoia invades in the form of two “spooks”, Ross and Pumphrey.
One has to understand the very real threat and paranoia that took over England in the post-war years, particularly with the increasing threat from Soviet aggression, nuclear threats and the potential for what were once seemingly innocuous tenants in a house where, not surprisingly, other tenants are now missing.
Watson uses both humor and misdirection to great effect in this story: chuckles were endless at Purbright’s often sly wit, the reveals were slow to develop, but allowed for plenty of ‘play along’ time for readers to build their case for one culprit or another. Sure, my guesses were ALL wrong as a lovely surprise twist brought the story to conclusion with revelations I never could have seen, but fortunately, the dogged determination and thorough examination of the clues, large, small and otherwise throw-away were not seen as such by Purbright, who does ultimately find the culprit and bring the story to an end.
Watson’s use of language and his sly sense of humor that is apparent in Purbright’s character keep this story fresh, even while some of the situations and social conventions feel very 1960’s: it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the stories – and these are fun examples of classic British crime stories, focused on the characters, the clues and the story around the deaths.
Title: Hopjoy Was Here
Author: Colin Watson
Series: Flaxborough Chronicles #3
Also in this series: Coffin Scarcely Used, Bump in the Night, Lonelyheart 4122, Charity Ends at Home
Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery, Historic Elements, Setting: Britain
Published by: Farrago
Published on: 22 March, 2018 (Re-Release)
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo
The gripping sight of four burly policeman manhandling a bath down the front path of a respectable villa isn’t one the residents of Flaxborough see every day.
Net curtains twitch furiously, and neighbours have observations to make to Chief Inspector Purbright and Sergeant Love about the inhabitants of 14, Beatrice Avenue. Nice Gordon Periam, the mild-mannered tobacconist, and his rather less nice (in fact a bit of a bounder) lodger Brian Hopjoy had apparently shared the house amicably.
But now neither man is to be found and something very disagreeable seems to be lurking in the drains… Then a couple of government spooks turn up, one with an eye for the ladies – the drama is acquiring overtones of a Bond movie!
A copy of this title was provided via for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: