Great Tradition

Robert Barnard

  • Plaster Sinners by Colin Watson
    Eyre Methuen, 160 pp, £5.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 413 39040 3
  • Photo-Finish by Ngaio Marsh
    Collins, 262 pp, £5.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 00 231857 1
  • The Predator by Russell Braddon
    Joseph, 192 pp, £5.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 7181 1958 4

‘What is this but a Thirties detective story?’ asks the London policeman who finds himself in the thick of the latest Flaxborough murder. It’s a piece of miscalculated self-consciousness on Colin Watson’s part – almost the only miscalculation in the book. The Flaxborough Chronicles embody a great many of the virtues that make the golden-age detective story still one of the most widely read literary forms. They have their share of cosiness, with menace lurking underneath; they exploit class-consciousness – humorously, with none of that deadening Thirties snobbery; they use traditional humours, and gently mock traditional humours, and gently mock traditional mores.

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