Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Whatever's Been Going on at Mumblesby? (A Flaxborough Mystery #12)

Author:  Colin Watson
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback: Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780385183826; 9781571259090
Prelude Books
172 Pages
Various Prices; $.99 Amazon
July 26, 2018 (Reprint)


In Flaxborough's posh neighboring village, Mumblesby, 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 country types.  Then the recent suicide of a local farmer's wife also begins to look questionable.


When a solicitor named Loughbury passes away in Mumblesby, Detective Inspector Purbright attends the funeral in lieu of his superior Mr. Chubb.  While there he hears a woman screaming for help and  follows her to the late solicitor's home, finding not only the young widow locked in a bathroom but for some odd reason clothes strewn upon a small heater - smoldering - and a propane tank in a bedroom.  He also sees something odd: a small piece of wood trapped permanently inside a steel cage that has been sealed into the wall, labeled the "True Cross".  Curious indeed.

He waits until the widow, Zoe, and her mother return from the funeral before questioning her about the attempted arson.  While she seems to ignore the implication that someone is attempting to murder her, Purbright decides to seek the truth of the matter and sends his detective sergeant Sidney Love to the village to see if he can discover any clues.  What Love finds out is there are many unsavory characters living there, and not a appears to like Zoe, considering her no more than a concubine who was lucky enough to have been given Loughbury's entire estate.  But when that estate includes objects d'art that apparently do not belong to Loughbury at all, things become even more curious than before.

When a strange "prank" befalls the widow, Purbright is determined more than ever to come to the truth of the matter, including letting the widow know that he isn't the fool she at first took him for...

This is the twelfth book in the series and I am sad to say, the last, as Mr. Watson passed away soon after writing it.  I have read all of the series and have been completely satisfied with every one of them.  I have to add in all honesty however, that no matter how much I tried, I could not like the character of Zoe.  She seemed harsh and uncaring to me; someone who believes money can buy her an entreé into society, and otherwise will force her way in if necessary.  Money can't buy class, no matter who you are or how much of it you have.  She's not a person I would care to know personally.

Don't get me wrong; there are many other characters in books who were born low, married into money and were just wonderful.  It was more that I thought Zoe was an opportunist, and not in a nice way.  She seemed cold and calculating to me, and I don't care for that sort of person.

The rest of the book was, as always, highly entertaining and delightful to read.  DI Purbright is as clever as ever, ferreting out the truth as he always does, no matter how well hidden people think they may have left it.  He gets to the heart of everything by going over the evidence piece by piece, and watching him connect the dots, as it were, is the best part of each and every one of these books.

When Purbright realizes that a young woman from Mumblesby had not committed suicide as was agreed upon by both her husband and the court, it is exactly as I stated - Purbright takes the information given and parses it to discover who wanted her dead and why; he finds that the death is connected to Loughbury and several of the villagers; and he also learns that each of them have given Loughbury a very expensive item indeed; but for what reason?  Is is tied to the death of the woman, who passed over a year ago?  It is interesting how Purbright takes a small clue Loughbury had in his possession (along with the fact of those above-mentioned articles) and deduces the truth.

All in all, the ending, as always, leaves us with our own conjectures as to the final outcome; but it is enough to realize that justice has been done.  While I am saddened that there will be no more in this series, I am heartened by the fact that I was able to read them.  Recommended.


Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2534532604

More on Colin Watson's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/w/colin-watson/                     

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