Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lonely Heart 4122 - Colin Watson

First published 1967; cover shown is the 1977 Eyre Methuen (UK) hardcover edition. 160p.

While I have yet to read a Colin Watson that isn't entertaining, Lonely Heart 4122 would have to be one of the better Flaxborough Chronicle titles - because this is where Miss Teatime is introduced.

The market town of Flaxborough is missing two of its middle aged ladies. Inspector Purbright and his sidekick Sergeant Love investigate, soon discovering that both women had signed up with the local marriage bureau, Handclasp House, in the months before their disappearances.

While Purbright and Love are working their way through the list of Handclasp House's male members, Miss Teatime makes her debut appearance. Looking for a change from London, the "trim and cheerful looking woman of doubtful age" decides the prosperous town of Flaxborough will be her new home. After booking into a hotel, Miss Teatime looks through the local paper and eventually finds what she's been looking for: Handclasp House.

Signing up with the agency, she quickly receives a letter from one of the male members (Lonelyheart 4122), and after a few days of correspondence the two decide to meet. The man with whom Miss Teatime has been corresponding with is the same man Purbright is searching for. But perhaps we should be sorry for Lonely Heart 4122, because Miss Teatime is no ordinary lady...

What follows is a somewhat predictable yet nevertheless very amusing set of circumstances as 4122 and Miss Teatime set about double crossing the other, each having no idea what the other is doing. The final scene is a killer!

The cover shown features a photograph of Brenda Bruce as Miss Teatime from the BBC TV production.

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