Monday, July 09, 2007

The Naked Nuns - Colin Watson

First published 1975; cover shown is the 1991 Mandarin Books paperback edition. Cover by Button Design Co. 176 pages.

Another instalment in the Flaxborough Chronicles. It's perhaps a bit more lewd than usual (not that that's a bad thing...) but still features Watson's usual hilarious physical descriptions and much-loved characters, including Ms Teatime, Inspector Purbright, Chief Constable Chubb and the totally irredeemable Councillor Crispin.

The story - which involves seemingly nonsensical cablegrams, American hitmen, a olde worlde eating hall, an increasingly vindictive feud between the town's two wealthiest citizens, and the usual bloody murder - could easily become a ridiculous farce, but somehow Watson keeps it all together and believable.

The mysterious American gangster, Joseph Tudor (not his real name), is one of those characters which you wish you could read more about. A hitman during the days of Capone, he is in his late 60s now. His arrival in the village of Flaxborough causes some consternation - but while a murder is committed, it's English through and through.

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