Fifth in the Heron Carvic’s Miss Seeton mystery series revolving a retired drawing instructor now living in a sometimes quiet village in Kent in the mid-1960s.
Cute, but not one of my favorites in this series. There are a few things that just don’t hang together. The biggest hole is Tom Haley’s lack of professional behavior from the start at the casino and later at the Abbey.
The tension is worrying at the start for Miss Seeton is without her umbrella and, with the Syndicate’s plans in place, she and young Haley are in trouble. But, then, that’s reckoning without MissEss…snicker… Then there’s Lord Kenharding’s interpretation of Miss Seeton’s behavior at the track; it does bring a bit of tension to the race.
I do rather wonder if Carvic stopped writing this series because he couldn’t believe that Miss Seeton could possibly maintain this ability to rationalize away the odd accidents that always seem to happen around her. Admittedly, she’s had decades of practice, but working with the police must be increasing the incidents. A hard spot to be in as it’s those unconscious actions of hers that seem most successful.
For all the help Miss Seeton has been providing the Yard, you’d think that by now the nutjobs in the village would leap to that conclusion first. Don’t get me wrong, she does have her allies and, boy, do they leap when her new alarm system goes off.
A couple of new romances as well… Oh, oh, oh, then the very last bit…that MissEss is a caution!
Oh yeah, it’s Miss Seeton undercover on the case and Mr. Thatcher might just as well roll it up. The Yard is desperate for an image of the boss and cameras just don’t work so it’s Mrs. Amos B. Herrington-Casey, a.k.a., Miss Seeton, bedecked in satin and diamonds and gambling at The Gold Fish casino, to the rescue. Fraud is desperate to shut the Syndicate down—they’re taking over the race tracks, arcades, casinos, and on. And the cops can’t act without some kind of proof. It’s too bad for Fraud that MissEss is a bit too notorious.
But, the Oracle knows how things just seem to happen around Miss Seeton and he feels careful of her safety. He’ll simply feel better if he just hangs around The Gold Fish’s entrance. A good thing, too, when it provides several breaks in the case.
The plan had been that getting Miss Seeton home in all her glory so very late would avoid her being seen…too bad they reckoned without the Harvest Dance. Not so bad for the Nuts as it simply provides more grist for their mill. They really need to start writing their fiction down and publishing it, probably under fantasy fiction.
It’s the next day that the action really takes off when the Honorable Dierdre shows up at Miss Seeton’s to demand her help by coming to stay for a long weekend at Kenharding Abbey. After that, it’s ghosts and a lack of experience at the track that continues to skew the roll of the Syndicate’s dice.
Miss Emily Seeton is a most unexpected, occasional policewoman. Retained by Scotland Yard to be available to draw when needed; MissEss believes she’s been hired to do a sort of Identi-Kit upon demand. Martha Bloomer has stayed on as Miss Seeton’s cleaning lady and is very protective of her. Her husband Stan takes care of the garden and the chickens. And is quite handy with odd errands and the odd threat.
Superintendent Delphick, a.k.a., the Oracle, is considered her handler by Scotland Yard. Well, he does seem to have the most experience with her while his Detective Sergeant Bob Ranger (recently married to Anne Knight) sees her as more of a troublesome aunt (see Witch Miss Seeton). Detective Constable Tom Haley from Fraud is undercover on this assignment that Inspector Borden, his boss, has set up. Sir Hubert Everleigh is the Assistant Commissioner and understands that “Miss Seeton and the untoward go hand in hand”. Poor Chief Superintendent Brinton…when Thrudd calls the station to request help, it takes mentioning Miss Seeton to put the cat among the pigeons. Detective Constable Foxon does his best to escort MissEss home from the track.
Mel Forby is writing a comic strip based on MissEss and Plummergen and is good friends with Miss Seeton. The incident outside the club sends her hotfoot down to the village. Thrudd Brunner is a free-lance foreign correspondent who became acquainted with MissEss in Miss Seeton Sings. Seems he also knows Mel. Quite well.
Dierdre Kenharding is Lord Kenharding’s daughter and she is determined to do something about the danger threatening her family. A danger that her brother Derrick seems determined to jump into with both feet. (There’s an interesting picture gallery tour of a sad genetic heritage.) Her father Mark is one of the directors at the casino and the threats are mounting. Hélène and her husband Timson have stayed on at the Abbey past their retirement to continue caring for the household; quite the resourceful pair. You’ll like the Timsons and Lord and Lady (Penny) Kenharding…insightful with a sense of reality and humor. Mr. Thatcher is the syndicate’s man at The Gold Fish. Not a nice man. Frank the Fingers unexpectedly turned into a butterfingers.
The inhabitants of Plummergen include:
You’ll love it! The Nuts present a petition to Major General Sir George (and the local JP) and Lady Colvedon against Miss Seeton; their son Nigel adds his own bit of steam. It’s a momentous occasion for “Eric” Nuttel and Norah “Bunny” Blaine when Miss Seeton comes home from her undercover assignment—they’re actually dumbstruck. Too bad it doesn’t last! Most of the village has cameos. PC Potter is the village constable and has been granted a car to replace his motor scooter. I do wonder if having MissEss in the neighborhood had any bearing on this! Good thing he’s a young man with his head on his shoulders.
Well, it’s certainly Odds on Miss Seeton that she’ll stir things up at the casino and in the Kenharding household.