Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lonelyheart 4122

Miss Lemon, my dear readers, fears she has met her match.

Never did she expect to find within the pages of Colin Watson's Lonelyheart 4122 a character of such remarkable individuality and on par (if you will pardon Miss Lemon for saying so) with the more enigmatic creations of Mrs. Agatha Christie herself -- Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, Mr. Harley Quinn, and, er-hem, Miss Felicity Lemon.

(If my Christian name comes as a surprise, take comfort in the fact that it's been an extraordinarily well-kept secret. Even Mr. Poirot didn't discover it until 1955, when working on the Hickory Dickory Dock case.)

The character to rival Miss Lemon's sphinxdom is one Miss Lucilla Teatime, described as "remarkably trim and handsome." Indeed, those with the fortune to meet Miss Teatime instinctively approve of her ... "for there was in her appearance the flattering suggestion that she had taken pains to spare one personally the spectacle of yet another dumpy, disgruntled, defeated old woman."

Hmmm. Miss Lemon is not entirely sure that the foregoing passage is complimentary. Then again, perhaps isn't wasn't meant to be. In any case, Miss Teatime, just arrived from London, is far and away more than the regular folk of Flaxborough ("a market town of some antiquity with remarkable social and political intransigence") bargained for.

Shortly after her arrival in said town, Miss Teatime becomes a client of a matrimonial agency with a dubious reputation for success. Two of its women clients had recently laid hold of large sums of money and then went missing. Which is where Inspector Purbright comes in.

Come to think of it, Purbright rather reminds Miss Lemon of her dear friend Japp: tall, gangly, well-meaning but sometimes a little slow on the uptake. Perhaps there's more of Agatha Christie in Colin Watson's work than he'd care to admit.

What Miss Lemon is sure of, however, is that fans of her can't help but become fans of him.

No comments:

Post a Comment