Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980
‘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.