Miss Seeton Draws the Line by Heron Carvic – An Umbrella, a Sketchpad and Crime in a Village

Miss Seeton Draws the Line (A Miss Seeton Mystery): Amazon.co.uk ...

Miss Seeton Draws the Line by Heron Carvic


Miss Seeton fears the worst in this comedy drama mystery featuring the inimitable older lady, her umbrella and most significantly, her strange ability to draw clues to mysteries. Once again, Detective Superintendent Delphick, also known as the Oracle, is stuck in solving a murder, and thinks of Miss Seeton as the only person who can possibly help. This book is part of a series, but can happily be read as a standalone novel, once the basic idea of the unusual premise of the book is established. Although a series of crimes has been committed in various parts of the country, the action mainly takes place in the picturesque village of Plummergen. This is quite the coincidence as Miss Seeton has inherited a house from her godmother in the village, which she stays in during school holidays when she is not teaching in London. Anyone who has read the previous book knows that this is no peaceful village in the midst of the English countryside, but a lively place that contains some memorable characters who are more than capable of putting completely the wrong interpretation on any event, especially where Miss Seeton is concerned.Ranging from a bewildered Vicar, through two ladies referred to as The Nutts, to my favourite, Sir George Colveden and his practical wife Lady Colveden. This is a fast moving mystery which brings in many elements of farce and more in a fast moving tale of crime, detection and more.


The book opens with Miss Seeton saving a child who she finds, in common with others in the village, difficult to like. Her spontaneous use of her umbrella to effect the rescue is,  as ever, a matter of instinct. It also serves to remind her that she has tried and failed to sketch this particular child for her mother, and failed. Why she has produced such a strange image drives her see Dr Knight, as she fears that she is ill. When his daughter Anne visits to find out what is going on, she is alerted to further possibilities of what is going on in Miss Seeton’s mind, which provides suggestions for further police investigation. That proves to be helpful, as Delphick is wrestling with cases of particularly nasty murders , and as yet has very little to go on until a common denominator is found. Of course, village life being what it is, as soon as Miss Seeton is fetched to consult further, gossip condemns her activities as illegal, criminal and worse. When some robberies occur in the village many issues emerge, and Miss Seeton’s activities once more, however innocent, are scrutinised.


This book steers a careful line between farce, murder mystery and comedy. It is tense, gently funny and always clever. The situations that Miss Seeton finds herself in are truly remarkable on many levels, and the characters who run through the novel are always consistent and amusing. There are as always a few situations running through this fairly short novel, and there is always something of interest throughout. This is an enjoyable and fairly light read, a 1969 novel republished which shows something of life in the 1960s, and represents a slice of British village life in a fascinating and enjoyable way. I found it a good read which continues Miss Seeton’s story in a very satisfactory way. 


This is a different book from yesterday’s classic Heyer, and a very different proposition! Not a new book, though recently republished, it is very different from the many new books I have here to read. There are of course common themes – strong females, crime of a non gory type, humour of a gentle type. So many books, so little time…

Picture Miss Seeton by Heron Carvic – Miss S arrives in Plummergen and begins her adventures

Picture Miss Seeton (A Miss Seeton Mystery Book 1) eBook: Carvic ...

Picture Miss Seeton by Heron Carvic


The first of the ‘proper’ Miss Seeton books, this novel introduces various characters, mainly of course the brave and indomitable Miss Seeton herself, who sometimes does not appreciate what is really going on. Beginning with her getting embroiled in a Carmen – like murder with her trusty umbrella, Miss Seeton soon discovers that notoriety and threats can seriously inconvenience her. This book was originally published in 1968 by the first author, and is now republished by Farrago. Miss Seeton in this book is a retired teacher who has just inherited a cottage in an English village from her godmother, but soon comes to the notice of the police when she is an accidental witness to a vicious murder. As in the prequel which was written more recently, she has a talent for drawing images of people and situations which reveal much more than their outward appearance; their motives and real personality are strongly suggested for interpretation.  Superintendent Delphick, otherwise known as the Oracle, soon discovers that it is possible to find out a lot from the drawings when looking for murders and other problematic individuals. This book introduces some splendid characters in the village, and there are plenty of jokes and witty asides in a story that combines real wit with some interesting observations on the time. 


The book opens with Miss Seeton walking through the streets of London with her trusty umbrella when she sees an altercation between what looks like a young couple. Having intervened, she lands on the floor, but worse is to come when she discovers that the young woman has been stabbed. When questioned by Delphick and Sergeant Ranger, the Superintendent  hits on the idea that she could draw her impression of the attacker, and he is able to identify the attacker as the notorious Cesar Lebel. He realises that Miss Seeton is a valuable witness, but that if she is identified and her whereabouts become public knowledge, she may well be in danger. 


When she moves down to the village of Plummergen she discovers a community partly fuelled by gossip, but also made up of an unusual mixture of people. There is a couple who look after the house and chickens, who become quite strong in her defence when needed. Two women are advanced gossips, while there is a village shop that provides a source of interest. A writer of children’s books is in residence, with a daughter who is proving more than slightly difficult. The vicar is beyond vague, with a more organised sister.  My favourites are Sir George and Lady Colveden and their son Nigel, as they both quietly do good without fuss, while Nigel is sweetly determined to help his childhood friend. When she says in frustration that she could kill him, Sir George replies “Stupid…Wife always first suspect. Hire someone. Don’t let ‘em overcharge”. 


This is a book of slightly ridiculous events, wonderful characters and at the centre, the accidentally brilliant Miss Seeton. Her strange drawings provide the trigger for detection, her insights provoke investigations, but most importantly her dauntless bravery makes all the difference in this story of criminal goings on and life in the country side. Apparently there are at least twenty more Miss Seetons to come – I look forward to reading more as soon as possible.   


I am just about getting used to not writing (and publicising) a review for Saturday and Sunday – which worked out well as Daughter was involved in a car accident on Friday. She is okish now, but her car was most definitely not. Not her fault by the way! On a more cheery note next Sunday I am due to post another book in a English town murder mystery series, so maybe a theme is developing on this blog?