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Coffin Scarcely Used (Flaxborough Chronicles #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The quiet town of Flaxborough was in for another shock. Only six months after the death of Councillor Carobleat, his next-door neighbor, Marcus Gwill, was found electrocuted, his mouth filled with marshmallows.

Was it a bizarre suicide? An unusual accident? Or had someone taken sweet revenge on the irascible publisher of the FLAXBOROUGH CITIZEN? It was up to Inspector Purbr
Paperback, First Dell Printing, 220 pages
Published October 1981 by Dell Publishing, Inc. (first published 1958)
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An Odd1
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fan
Watson scribes velvet and iron in our e-world gone plastic and aluminum. Invigorating vocabulary, singular conversation, eloquent turn of phrase glint from nearly every page. The extraordinary fluency, fluidity, and fun has me hooked on the series and leads me to quote much to share the pleasure. (Does not seem reflected in script of "Murder Most English" BBC series if preview is accurate )

We visit another time, like another planet. Cigarette smoke wafts
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
My first encounter with the residents of Flaxborough was also the first book in the series. I find myself oddly enchanted with the first entry, even though I unlocked most of the mystery halfway through the book.

A pair of deaths - one natural, one less so - entwine Inspector Purbright into a perplexing web of secrets simmering underneath the veneer of his picturesque, respectable and quiet village. Could those secrets have led to murder, and if so, how? Why?

The solution is not the prize in this
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
The first in Colin Watson's chronicles of the good burghers of Flaxborough introduces us to some of the venal, lustful and greedy men who run the town. When the newspaper publisher Gwill is mysteriously electrocuted, Inspector Purbright--humane and wise beyond the requirements of his position--finds his mind turning back to the fairly recent death of Gwill's neighbor, a shady businessman named Carobleat. The local doctor, lawyer and funeral director were all friends of Gwill, and possibly visite ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Tightly plotted and whimsically written. Strong on location and period. Less convinced by the characterisation. Looking forward to the next in the series though.
Sep 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Coffin, Scarcely Used was the first in Colin Watson's brilliant series of Flaxborough Chronicles, but is not in itself brilliant. By the time it appeared in the US, three others of the series had been published here before it, and it's easy to see why the delay. Although the Flaxborough Chronicles would become among the funniest of all crime series -- I periodically re-read some of the later titles, like Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (retitled Kissing Covens in the US, one of those rare occasions ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let joy be unconfined, Colin Watson's Flaxborough series is once more available (on Kindle, anyway). I don't like crime novels unless they are tinged with sufficient comedy (so, Watson and Westlake, then). Flaxborough has enough comedy to render the plot irrelevant, but nevertheless, it's a pretty good plot. It's interesting to note how in this first instalment all the regular characters (bar Miss Teatime, who doesn't make her bow until Lonelyheart 4122) spring forth fully realised: quietly subv ...more
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, dads
My copy is a HB, G.P. Putnam's Sons, First American edition 1967.

Beneath an electrical tower, a man is found dead, electrocuted, his mouth full of marshmallows. He's fully dressed, but wearing bedroom slippers, and he did not fall from the tower. How did he get there? Why were 2 - no, make that 3 - of his friends and business associates with him in his house just minutes before he died? What's behind the unusual advertisements that are weekly printed in his local paper? Why, the day after his de
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Coffin Scarcely Used was the first of the Flaxborough series of detective novels by Colin Watson, now back in print thanks to the Faber Finds initiative. Inspector Purbright, assisted by the slightly hapless Sergeant Love, investigate the odd death of a local newspaper proprietor, in the process uncovering corruption and sleaze in an ostensibly blameless seaside town. Watson is a funny writer, and manages to end on a punchline, but the wit has a real barb.

My review is at Past Offences, see http:
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A nice, clever, cozy English murder mystery. The first in a series of well plotted mysteries with quiet, but insightful Inspector Purbright and his less than competent assistant, Sargent Love (Watson's Miss Teatime mysteries have been popular for years). The prose is well written and witty with a number of twists without the usual red herrings. Purbright is always further ahead in solving the crime than his superior Chief Inspector Chubb can realize. Loved it and looking forward to another one.
May 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, mystery
This is a cute mystery, but I was hoping for more humor from it, based on what I had read about it prior to reading it. That's what I get for having preconceptions. I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters well enough to be truly invested in the outcome.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The writing style seemed dated even for 1958, or maybe I am forgetting what writing was like then. At any rate once I got into the style, I found the plotting, droll humor, and skill in writing quite delightful.
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Published in 1958. A cute, clever British cozy except that Inspector Purbright is a local policeman who reminds me of Lt. Colombo.
Anna Pervukhin
Oct 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vic
Good stuff, though not Watson's best
Stephen Harvey
If you love the English village murder this is for you.
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Colin Watson was educated at the Whitgift School in South Croydon, London. During his career as a journalist he worked in London and Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was a leader-writer for Kemsley Newspapers.

His book Hopjoy Was Here (1962) received the Silver Dagger Award. He was married, with three children, and lived in Lincolnshire. After retiring from journalism he designed silver jewellery.

As wel
More about Colin Watson...

Other Books in the Series

Flaxborough Chronicles (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Bump in the Night (Flaxborough Chronicles, #2)
  • Hopjoy Was Here (Flaxborough Chronicles, #3)
  • Lonelyheart 4122 (Flaxborough Chronicles, #4)
  • Charity Ends at Home (Flaxborough Chronicles, #5)
  • Just What the Doctor Ordered (Flaxborough Chronicles, #6)
  • Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (Flaxborough Chronicles, #7)
  • Six Nuns and a Shotgun (Flaxborough Chronicles, #8)
  • It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog (Flaxborough Chronicles, #9)
  • Blue Murder (Flaxborough Chronicles, #10)
  • Plaster Sinners (Flaxborough Chronicles, #11)

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