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Publisher's Summary

A collection of cosy crime dramas adapted from Colin Watson's Flaxborough Chronicles, set in a small Lincolnshire market town in the 1960s and '70s.

Inspector Purbright is a thoroughly English policeman: affable, polite, dogged and decent. Created by award-winning crime writer Colin Watson, he appeared in 12 Flaxborough mysteries, four of which were adapted for BBC TV under the title Murder Most English. These five radio dramatisations star Peter Jeffrey, John Pullen and John Rowe as Purbright.

Coffin, Scarcely Used - When newspaper proprietor Marcus Gwill is found dead under an electricity pylon, shortly after the death of his neighbour, Harold Carobleat, Inspector Purbright investigates. He soon discovers that something very odd is going on in the seemingly respectable town of Flaxborough.

Bump in the Night - Tuesday nights in Chalmsbury are becoming quite explosive: first a drinking fountain is blown to bits, then the statue of Alderman Berry is decapitated, and the following week, a giant glass eye is shattered. On loan from Flaxborough CID, can Purbright find the mystery bomber?

Lonelyheart 4122 - Two middle-aged women have gone missing in Flaxborough, and Purbright's investigations lead him to local marriage bureau Handclasp House. Meanwhile, the resourceful Miss Lucy Teatime has her own interest in the agency....

Charity Ends at Home - The kindly detective probes dark deeds in the world of small-time animal charities - and uncovers a trail of murder and sabotage.

The Naked Nuns - An intercepted telegram hints that Flaxborough is home to human traffickers - and then a tip-off arrives from America that an assassin is on the way. Soon, Inspector Purbright finds himself picking his way through a case of vice and violence....

Content warning: These programmes contain strong language, and some dated attitudes.

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It passes the time

Not a bad series and I don’t regret listening to it while I did chores but it wasn’t a griping listen and I doubt I will listen to it a second time.

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  • Highlight
  • 11-14-21

Good Clean Fun

First heard some of these plays on Radio 4+ & delighted the BBC put this collection together.
I wish there was more than 5! Maybe I am just being greedy :) I like these so much. Good clean old fashioned comic fun. As said per Oliver Twist.
“Please sir, I want some more”.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Kingy
  • 12-02-21

Bit of a mixed bag but a worthwhile starting point

Colin Watson's books needs to be read, in the same way Raymond Chandler or Terry Pratchett need to be read. The stories are often weak or simple but the joy is in the writing. The skill in the use of language, the use of humour and irony is implicit in the writing and dramatisations can never achieve the same level of joy in finding a brilliant turn of phrase or description which makes you laugh out loud. This said, these are a worthwhile listen with different dramatists adapting Watson's work, with some being more successful that others. For me the stand out plays are Lonely-heart and Charity ends at home. The hero, Purbright, is an honest, forthright and genuine copper with no addictions, no deep troubling past or no known family life. What he does have is an understanding of human behaviour and a genuine feeling of wanting to help people. with other authors, he may be described as boring or weak but Watson makes him a mirror in which the apparently cosy world of middle England is reflected as a hot house of murder, vengeance and especially sex. Sex is everywhere in Flaxborough. As Miss Teatime says (and i'm paraphrasing) " As a single middle aged woman, I was always concerned about the physical aspect of relationships. There never seemed to be enough of it.!"
Perhaps the stories have aged a little but the human frailty and motivations described are still the same and Watson understands and communicates these with a real wit and sparkle.
Listen to these, enjoy them and then either read the books or listen to the three audio books available, which are excellent. Watson should be feted in the same breath as Chesterton or Saki as one of the great humourists in fiction.

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  • mgn
  • 01-23-22

Totally enjoyable

I loved this collection of stories. Totally engaging. Fun. Mysteries with a happy ending - inspector Purbright always gets his man. Ms Teatime is a fabulous character. All enjoyable puzzles & stress-free. I know Watson wrote more and I wish audible had those as well. Highly recommend.

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  • Aurora
  • 12-14-21

Really not the best way to experience these books

The Flaxborough books are a joy to read or listen to. These dramatisations just don't do them justice. The great thing about Calin Watson's writing is the minutia of the rural market town and the petty politics that swirls around. I really tried with this, but had to return it. Do yourself a favour and get the Simon Shepherd readings instead - they are fantastic. Please Audible, get some more done!

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  • Stephen Bentley
  • 04-07-22

OK

The earlier episodes are in my opinion very much better than the later ones - which drift off into some weird version of The Archers. Very irritating. In fact I'm sorry I paid for these rather than hired them. A waste of money.

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  • Cat
  • 01-11-22

Quirky stories, enjoyable listening

I read the Purbright stories many years ago and enjoyed them greatly. Quirky and improbable though they are, they are entertaining and amusing. A spoken version can never quite recapture some of the writing style but this dramatisation does a very good job and I enjoyed listening to the exploits of the residents of Flaxborough and the inimitable Miss Lucy Teatime.

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  • KathR
  • 09-13-22

Delightful!

The original books are such fun and the audible plays are as good if not better. I have listened to these so many times. Could we have some more please?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-06-21

Great old style crime series

I really enjoyed getting to know all the classical English characters in ‘Inspector Purbright’. Thankyou to all the cast for this throughly entertaining ‘radio’ series. Thanks Audible.

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  • JMS
  • 04-04-22

Step back in time

Loved all the performances. Easy listening. Will no doubt listen to them again in the future .

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