Thursday, April 16, 2020

Miss Seeton Draws the Line by Heron Carvic

First Line: "Stop!" The little girl took no notice and stepped into the road.

Miss Seeton is seriously thinking about early retirement to her little cottage in the village of Plummergen. Why? Because all her attempts at a portrait of little Effie Goffer have gone horribly wrong. But once Inspector Delphick sees Miss Seeton's drawing, he asks her to do another of a dead child in Lewisham. Is the elderly art teacher actually drawing clues to a series of child murders? Delphick thinks she is, but even though he wants to concentrate on the murders, he's also got to pay attention to a series of burglaries and robberies, as well as a pesky newspaper reporter and a gang of hooligans who like to create mayhem wherever they go. Is little Miss Seeton with her drawing pad and umbrella going to be able to help solve all these crimes? Find out for yourself!

This second book in the Miss Seeton series is every bit as delightful as the first, Picture Miss Seeton. Heron Carvic wrote an essay in 1977 in which he recalled how, after having first used her in a short story, 'Miss Seeton upped and demanded a book' -- and that if 'she wanted to satirize detective novels in general and elderly lady detectives in particular,' he would let her have her head. I'm so glad he did. These books are the perfect light (and absolutely hilarious) reads when readers want to forget about what ails them and their world.

Miss Seeton may be satirizing detective novels and elderly female sleuths, but at least she has Inspector Delphick ("the Oracle") who sees her worth and pays attention to her. With her unfailing good manners and distracted air-- and how on earth could I forget her umbrella? -- she unwittingly solves all the crimes in Plummergen, not that her fellow villagers appreciate it. In fact, one of the best scenes in Miss Seeton Draws the Line is one in which a group convenes to discuss village business and winds up conducting a vicious gossip session, all described by Carvic as a medieval joust. Splendid! The scene reminded me of two things: (1) why I moved from the village where I grew up, and (2) the writing of T. H. White in The Once and Future King. Since I love White's novel, this is definitely meant as a compliment.

If you need (several) good laughs, if you need to be charmed, if you need a read that draws you inexorably to the next book in the series, by all means start reading the Miss Seeton mysteries. They are wonderful! (Although I am wondering if Miss Seeton ever discovers where all the strange pillows and cushions in her cottage came from...)

Miss Seeton Draws the Line by Heron Carvic
eISBN: 9780993576317
Farago © 2016
Originally published in 1969.
eBook, 240 pages

Cozy/Humorous Mystery, #2 Miss Seeton mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. Oh, this sounds like just the sort of book I want to read right now, Cathy! The art theme, the setting, the protagonist...they all sound like they'd exactly suit what I'm in the mood to read. I'll have to look this one up.

  2. Interesting. Do you consider this a cozy?

    1. It's a cozy in more of the traditional, Agatha Christie, sense, if you know what I mean.


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