Bump In the Night, Colin Watson
The second book in one of my all time favourite series, the Flaxborough Chronicles, BUMP IN THE NIGHT, sees DI Purbright on temporary secondment to Chalmsbury after a series of monuments explode. Things get a lot more serious though when local "identity" Stan Biggadyke is blown up on the nights he normally spends with Police Chief Hector Larch's wife - the same Inspector Larch who volunteers at the local civil defence centre that is missing boxes of explosives.
By this second book Watson had really hit his straps with eccentric characters, elaborate and stagey plots, a lot of mayhem and dollops of gossip, small town characteristics and general craziness.
It's a joy to go back to this series, now available in ebook format which is just as well - my precious, much loved paperbacks are starting to show signs of fragility and have had to be tucked away in protective coverings. Those books are staying with me even if I manage to work up the necessary bravery to undertake the increasingly desperately required "grand cull".
Tuesday nights have suddenly turned quite ridiculously noisy in the country town of Chalmsbury, where the good folk are outraged at having their rest disturbed.
It begins with a drinking fountain being blown to smithereens – next the statue of a local worthy loses his head, and the following week a giant glass eye is exploded. Despite the soft-soled sleuthing of cub reporter Len Leaper, the crime spate grows alarming.
Sheer vandalism is bad enough, but when a life is lost the amiable Inspector Purbright, called in from nearby Flaxborough to assist in enquiries, finds he must delve deep into the seamier side of this quiet town’s goings on.
Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay.