Lonelyheart 4122, Colin Watson

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

LONELYHEART 4122 sees the introduction of Miss Lucilla (Lucy) Teatime to the mayhem that is Flaxborough and the series is all the better for her presence.

Originally published in the late 1960's, this is a time of matrimonial agencies (and is now a good time to admit I was getting Carry on Loving flashbacks... ), although there's considerably more subtlety in the wordplay and characterisations in these novels than was ever attempted in those movies (and no connection whatsoever!). Anyway, pre-Tinder and like "apps", matrimonial agencies, seemingly run by happily married people took it upon themselves to match single's based on answers to questionnaires, and one assumes, a fair amount of eenie, meenie, miney moe.

In LONELYHEART 4122 Mr Arthur Spain is very worried about his recently widowed sister-in-law, who seems to have vanished into thin air, with her normally immaculate doorstep being rapidly cluttered by bottles of curdling milk and piles of unread newspapers. His report to Inspector Purbright of this most concerning occurrence, finds he and Sergeant Love already perplexed by the disappearance of another well to do woman of a similar age. Eventually the hunt for a connection leads the investigation to Handclasp House, a local dating agency managed by a husband and wife team.

Meanwhile Miss Teatime has arrived in Flaxborough and made her way to Handclasp House seemingly intent on a match for herself, a woman purporting to be of comfortable means, and not at all interested in accepting the auspices of protection, or the surveillance of the local constabulary.

Suffice to say that readers new to this series will soon discover this is more than meets the eye when it comes to Miss Teatime and her presence in Flaxborough isn't quite what Inspector Purbright thinks it is. Old hands will be gently reminded of the sense of fun, and the acute sense of windup that is such a hallmark of this wonderful series.


Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

Whatever can have happened to Lil?

Flaxborough butcher Arthur Spain is worried that his sister-in-law hasn’t been in touch lately, so he pays her a visit. But Lil’s not at home, and by her porch door are a dozen bottles of curdling milk… Alarmed, he calls in the local police, D.I. Purbright and his ever-reliable Sergeant Sid Love.

It transpires Lilian Bannister is the second middle-aged woman in the town to mysteriously vanish, and the link is traced to a local lonely hearts agency called Handclasp House. So when a vulnerable-seeming lady with the charming title of Lucy Teatime signs up for a romantic rendezvous, the two detectives try extra hard to look out for her. But Miss Teatime has a few surprises of her own up her dainty sleeve!

Review Lonelyheart 4122, Colin Watson
Karen Chisholm
Monday, November 16, 2020

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