Monday, July 23, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Blue Murder by Colin Watson

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

I keep coming back to Colin Watson’s entertaining British detective series: A Flaxborough Mystery, featuring the unflappable Inspector Purbright.

Blue Murder is a new release of a book originally published in 1979. In this installment, muckracking newsmen and a female research assistant have arrived in Flaxborough from London after receiving a tip that pornographic films are being made by local villagers. Unfortunately for them, a traffic accident brings them to the immediate attention of the police. Then, the teaser published in their London paper incites the ire of Flaxborough’s mayor. He’s a hot-headed Scotsman, easily manipulated by pranksters who get him to challenge the leader of the muckrakers to a duel in order to defend the honor of the town. This, too, is a matter for local law enforcement, much to Purbright’s chagrin.

In his usual unexcitable, methodical way, Purbright keeps tabs on local troubles and tries to calm things down without inserting himself too much into the mix. In early chapters, his profile is pretty low. It’s the London reporters who take center stage.

There is a lot going on and the plot is pretty convoluted, but stick with it and things gradually fall into place. The tip the reporters received is a false one. To save face, they need a way to back out before it gets any worse. Using the excuse of riled and unpredictable villagers, they contrive a fake kidnaping of the star reporter. But that plan goes horribly awry.

Now Purbright has no choice but to step in. With his faithful sidekick, detective Sydney Love, as well as a few others of Flaxborough’s finest, he digs in to unravel a plot that has its beginnings in an unsolved death from a few years past.

Once again, wry humor carries the novel. Purbright’s detecting style is a delight. And while his character remains rather enigmatic to the readers, we do at least learn he is married. (Was that evident before? How did I miss it?)

These novels are quick, delightful reads and I look forward to more of them.