Colin Watson – Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (1972)

This eighth entry in the Flaxborough series opens with a number of the town’s more distinguished residents, mainly female, engaged upon a kind of pagan rite. There are strange doings afoot in Flaxborough. Well there nearly always are. As usual it falls to Inspector Purbright to clear matters up, aided and abetted by Sergeant Love and the wonderful Miss Lucilla Teatime.

Broomsticks is hardly one of Watson’s most distinguished plots (he had a problem here because he was always going to be unlikely to top the one he found for Lonelyheart4122), but it is still all very good fun. The problem is that Watson wished to epater not only the bourgeois but the mystery reading (or Christie reading anyway) public. Today the books no longer have that effect: there is certainly absolutely nothing to shock here. What we are left with is an amusing, well-executed, highly readable comic mystery. And really those achievements alone should  suffice.

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