Friday, June 22, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Charity Ends at Home by Colin Watson

I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

I decided to keep going with the Flaxborough Chronicles. The next book in this charming detective series by Colin Watson is Charity Ends at Home.

Detective Purbright is wearily keeping tabs on increasingly competitive Flaxborough charity drives when an anonymous letter is brought to his attention, a letter that has been sent to three local VIPs: the coroner, the constable, and the newspaper editor. The distressed writer is convinced he/she is in danger. Loved ones are plotting murder. Although the writer does not sign the letter, an enclosed photograph is referred to – but no photo is enclosed.

Purbright is duty-bound to take the threat seriously, but has no idea where to start until a local woman is found dead, drowned in a well. She was active in the local fund-raising community, favoring charities that support dogs. She was not happily married. Naturally, her husband becomes the prime suspect. But how does the letter tie in?

At the same time, a newcomer to town is trying out his own amateur detecting skills. His job is to catch a cheating husband. However, the detective, Mortimer Hive, is not very bright, a drinker, and easily distracted. He bungles his job, but no matter. The person who hired him has decided he doesn’t need Hive’s input after all. The assignment is over.

Hive doesn’t leave town. He’s a good friend of Miss Lucy Teatime (a con-woman introduced in the previous book). Lucy has set up camp in Flaxborough. She is no longer scamming gentlemen looking for lady friends. She’s involved in a new plot, skimming money from charities.

Purbright seems to be impressed by Miss Teatime. It’s difficult to believe he doesn’t realize she is up to no good. Still, she’s courteous and helpful as well as very clever. With her help and with some prodding of Mortimer Hive, Purbright sets about chasing down the murderer.

This book is a bit more jumbled than the others and the humor seems more forced. Mortimer’s ramblings take up a good deal of the book and he wasn’t as interesting a character as the others. Nevertheless, he serves his purpose. The threads are all pulled together to bring about a satisfying conclusion. I’ll take a little break, then return eagerly to this series.