You wait for ages…
This is Watson’s second Flaxborough novel (although it actually takes place in neighbouring Chalmsbury, and is linked by virtue of the appearance of Inspector Purbright) and it is an altogether darker affair than his first. That is not to say it is grim, the humour is still there, but the story is more sobering.
As before, the humour does not consist of jokes or set-piece ‘funny’ events. Rather, it derives from the characters and their situations, as well as the wry way in which these are conveyed by the author. And at no time does this take away from the realities of the story. It is not a farce, but a humorous observation of real life. Characters face the consequences of their actions, they life through events that could (and frequently do) happen to ordinary people. Indeed, one of the joys of Watson’s books is that ordinary people are shown in all their extraordinary glory.
The plot is satisfyingly replete with red herrings (and very intelligently incorporated they are), has a number of subtle twists, a bit of gentle character development, and plenty of acute observation. It also relies on genuine motives which are worked through in genuine fashion, despite the seeming bizarre nature of the crimes.
Having bought an omnibus edition, there will be a third one along in short order.