In Flaxborough’s posh neighbouring village, Mumblesbury, the local solicitor, Richard Daspard Loughbury, has suddenly died.
Natural causes it appears, but DI Purbright and the ever-helpful Miss Lucy Teatime are taken aback by the quality of Loughbury’s art collection – including a Paul Klee, a Corot, and even a fragment of the “True Cross”.
All seem to have been acquired locally and the question of blackmail hangs in the air. Loughbury’s decidedly un-posh widow, Zoe, is less than grief-stricken, as are a cast of colourful characters from randy farmers to gin-soaked county types. Then, the recent suicide of a local farmer’s wife also begins to look questionable.
Witty and a little wicked, this final tale in Colin Watson’s Flaxborough series offers 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."
"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