This Box Set includes three Miss Seeton stories, previously received through NetGAlley and reviewed singly in May and July, 2016. Reviews are collected together below:
- PICTURE MISS SEETON
The first, and possibly the funniest, of the Miss Seeton stories. A laugh-out-loud murder mystery? You bet! Picture this: Miss Marple with the Keystone Kops as staged by Mel Brooks with a hint of Beatrix Potter.
That would be this story, featuring Miss Seeton, respectable spinster art teacher. She is having a lovely evening. After hearing “Carmen” at Covent Garden. Bizet’s beguiling tunes are running through Miss Seeton’s head even as she bewails Don José’s unseemly and “unnecessary” stabbing of Carmen. Miss Seeton is looking forward to a nice stay in the country at her newly inherited cottage, “Sweetbriars.”
Walking down an alley on her way home, she is displeased to encounter a young couple, the girl exclaiming in French, and the boy striking the girl. This is too much for Miss Seeton, who prods the ungentlemanly boy in the back. From there, the story is a lively dash for Miss Seeton, her “battling brolly” and her ever-useful sketchpad.
Our story is set in English country settlement of Plummergan, and stocked with a cast of memorable characters. Of course there is the vicar, Arthur Treeves who Does His Best, and his sister Molly who runs him; Sir George, Lady Colvedon, and their son Nigel; Miss Nuttel and Mrs. Blaine, dedicated to providing the latest, though perhaps not the most accurate, news to the village; Mrs. Venning, successful author of children’s stories featuring Jack the Rabbit, and her daughter Angela; Mrs. Bloomer, who “does” for Miss Seeton; and of course the Scotland yard men: Superintendent Delphick (The Oracle), whose admiration of Miss Seeton’s abilities grows throughout the book, and of course his stalwart sergeant, Bob Ranger.
In other words, a fairly typical English village murder mystery–but with an important difference. The author is a gifted storyteller. I started reading, and soon found myself chuckling at the literate, spot-on descriptions of these characters and their foibles. Miss Seeton sails serenely on, encountering numerous events that would unsettle most people, meeting each obstacle with her unique but effective resources. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and enthusiastically recommend it.
- MISS SEETON DRAWS THE LINE
Once again, Miss Seeton is requested to lend her unique sketching talents to Scotland Yard. This time, there is a series of child stranglings without any leads. Also in Miss Seeton’s little village there has been a series of burglaries leaving residents missing some of their most prized possessions.
Miss Seeton is asked to sketch the children of the village. All goes well, if unremarkably, until Miss S. tries to sketch little Effie Goffer. Indeed, she feels quite embarrassed that her picture goes seriously awry, with wavy lines across it. Of course, being as how this is Miss S. the odd drawing turns out to be significant, although not quite in the way Scotland Yard had hoped.
As usual, the village gossip line is working overtime and the stories surrounding Miss Seeton are becoming downright ludicrous. Leave it to Mel, an enterprising young journalist, to put the false and misleading stories in their place.
Miss Seeton soldiers on, finding difficulties with her bank and also encountering yet another young person whose picture she cannot complete. In the course of events, Miss Seeton comes into harm’s way but ultimately succeeds with the help of a few stalwart friends and, of course, her trusty brolly.
Author Carvic leads us on a merry chase with an outcome that Miss Seeton’s fans will relish.
- WITCH MISS SEETON
I am an enthusiastic fan of the Miss Seeton books–especially the early ones by Heron Carvic. This book finds our Miss Seeton being made an official part of the police force, still in her role as occasional sketch artist to help the authorities with particular problems.
This time, there is a double plot at work–one involving black magic, witchery and the occult, and the other centered on a new religious sect called Nuscience whose principal goal seems to be to separate affluent members from their money and valuables. Of course, Miss Seeton find herself involved with both the witches and Nuscience and her duties become quite hazardous.
In truth, I didn’t find this book as laugh-out-loud funny as some other Miss Seeton books I have read recently. The plot is rather intricate and the author becomes enmeshed in a detailed description of both sinister plots and their inner workings. I found this section a bit tedious. Also, a central character is named Merilee (similar to my first name). Perhaps I am oversensitive, but in my experience this name is rarely found in literature, and when it is the character is often a bit off. This book follows that pattern–although this Merilee does redeem herself–at a cost–in the end.
But back to the central character: in the course of her work Miss Seeton serves as a substitute teacher for a short time, and the story of how she interacts with the youngsters, turning their boredom into enthusiasm, is engaging. Since I spent several years as a teacher myself, I particularly enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Once again, Miss Seeton’s helpers–human and angelic–find themselves highly challenged keeping the determined little lady safe. Events are also particularly hard on the brollys–several are destroyed or severely damaged in the course of the story. And once again, Miss Seeton foils the evildoers and emerges from her labors relatively unscathed by her daredevil feats.