Coffin, Scarcely Used

by Colin Watson           first published in 1958, reprinted 2018 by Prelude Books

cover128992-mediumIn the respectable seaside town of Flaxborough, the equally respectable councillor Harold Carobleat is laid to rest. Cause of death: pneumonia. 

But he is scarcely cold in his coffin before  Detective Inspector Purbright, affable and annoyingly polite, must turn out again to examine the death of Carobleat’s neighbour, Marcus Gwill, former prop. of the local rag, the Citizen. This time it looks like foul play, unless a surfeit of marshmallows had led the late and rather unlamented Mr Gwill to commit suicide by electrocution. (‘Power without responsibility’, murmurs Purbright.)

How were the dead men connected, both to each other and to a small but select band of other town worthies? Purbright becomes intrigued by a stream of advertisements Gwill was putting in the Citizen, for some very oddly named antique items…

Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay.


A fun, humorous murder mystery. My favorite kind! A solid plot and fun characters. What more could you ask for?

I enjoyed the the camaraderie between Purbright and Sgt. Love. Several mysteries going at once, some type of shady business going between a group of upright citizens and throw in two murders to boot. One by electrocution and one by poison. It ticks all the boxes!

Thanks to Netgalley and Prelude Books for a free copy of this book with no strings attached for a positive review.


This fulfills the “Set in a small village” category under “Where” in the gold era Just the Facts Notebook @My Reader’s Block.   Also counts for Cloak and Dagger.

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