Thursday, January 3, 2019

Picture Miss Seeton — a delightful, cozy mystery

Picture Miss Seeton
by Heron Carvic
Miss Seeton is a retired, often bemuddled British art teacher with a slight psychic ability for drawing things more accurately than they appear. Picture Miss Seeton, the first in the series, is an absorbing novel in which an elderly and naive drawing mistress, finds herself suddenly involved in the baser side of life, becoming embroiled in a murder and its subsequent mayhem.
This was a delight to reread.

I'd forgotten just what an endearing character Miss Seeton is with her ever-present brolly and continual misunderstanding of what's going on around her. To balance that, though, there is the fact that she was a school mistress and you realize she must have been a good one because she brings that sense of judging people to different situations. If only she understood just what the situations were.

This would go in the "cozy mystery" category as well as the comic category, while still being a very  satisfying mystery.

Here's a bit of the beginning of the book in which Miss Seeton reflects on the opera she just saw.
"L'amour est tum tum

De something..."

So colorful. Not romantic—no, one couldn’t call it that; if anything perhaps a trifle sordid. Carmen, herself, for instance, no better than she should be. In fact, if one were frank, worse. And the other girl, the young one; it was difficult to feel sorry for her. Her fiancé, quite obsessed with his mother—obviously weak and easily influenced—would have made a most unsatisfactory husband in any case. Still, for him to stab Carmen at the end like that—so unnecessary. Almost contrived. Though, of course, one must not forget that foreigners felt differently about these matters. One read that people abroad did frequently get emotional and kill each other. Probably the heat.
Heron Carvic wrote the first five Miss Seeton mysteries. Although the series continued with other authors none of them really rang true. Those first five though are great fun.


  1. Nice recommendation. Thanks. Note:

    "Note that the 1968 US (Harper & Row) edition of Picture Miss Seeton contains characters and scenes not included in the 1968 UK (Geoffrey Bles) edition. Subsequent reissues have used the Geoffrey Bles text." (Wikipedia)

    Ah, the joys of philology.

  2. Well I'll be! Thanks for the scoop!