Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Coffin, Scarcely Used (A Flaxborough Mystery #1), by Colin Watson

Farrago, ISBN 9781788420136, February 2018

Six months ago, Councillor Harold Carobleat, of the town of Flaxborough, died unexpectedly, but otherwise unremarkably. His heart failed, his physician, Dr. Hillyard signed the death certificate, and his widow had him quietly buried. His business was quietly closed up.

Now his next door neighbor, Marcus Gwill, publisher of the Flaxborough Citizen is dead, found electrocuted at the foot of a power pole. Suicide? A bizarre accident? An equally bizarre murder? Inspector Purbright, of the Flaxborough Constabulary, has to look into this death, however unfamiliar such investigations are in quiet Flaxborough.

It's not long before he and his assistant, Sergeant Love, have many questions about the other respectable citizens who are also neighbors of the two dead men, including Dr. Hillyard, physician to both men, and George Gloss, solicitor to both men.

This book was first published in 1957, and reflects its time, but it's a solid, interesting mystery. Purbright and Love are interesting, likable characters, and others, including the Chief Constable and a couple of the uniformed constables, show signs that as the series progresses (there are at least two more books), they may become so.

The "of its time" social mores caveats include the roles and status of women, and the fact that, as far as I can tell, Every. Single. Person. Smokes.

Nevertheless, an enjoyable light mystery.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.