yesterday at a barbecue by my dear old friend T. and his friend C.--they swore it was the best thing ever--and they were right. Just finished the attractively named Don't point that thing at me, published in a value-for-money volume called The Mortdecai Trilogy (the author's Kyril Bonfiglioli, and you can also get the novel in a volume on its own, if you prefer). Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! The guys who recommended it to me are big Wodehouse fans, and there's certainly a bit of that here, but it's much darker and campier and funnier--Wodehouse infused with Derek Raymond, my particularly most favorite English noir writer. If you want more of the flavor before making a commitment to spend money, read this very charming New Yorker essay about Bonfiglioli by Leo Carey (it's got lots of excerpts from the novels). Here's one of my picks for most representative and likeable passage:
'Jock,' I said crisply, 'we are going to defenestrate Mr Martland.'
Jock's eyes lit up.
'I'll get a razor blade, Mr Charlie.'
'No no, Jock, wrong word. I mean we're going to push him out of a window. Your bedroom window, I think. Yes, and we'll undress him first and say that he was making advances to you and jumped out of the window in a frenzy of thwarted love.'
'I say, Charlie, really, what a filthy rotten idea; I mean, think of my wife.'
'I never think of policeman's wives, their beauty maddens me like wine. Anyway, the sodomy bit will make your Minister slap a D-Notice on the whole thing, which is good for both of us.'
Jock was already leading him from the room by means of the 'Quiet Come-Along' which painfully involves the victim's little finger. Jock had learned that one from a mental nurse. Capable lads, those.
Jock's bedroom, as ever, was bursting with what passes for fresh air in W.I, the stuff was streaming in from the wide-open window. (Why do people build houses to keep the climate out, then cut holes in the walls to let it in again? I shall never understand.)
'Show Mr Martland the spiky railings in the area, Jock,' I said nastily. (You've no idea how nasty my voice can be when I try. I was an adjutant once, in your actual Guards.) Jock held him out so that he could see the railings then started to undress him. He just stood there, unresisting, a shaky smile trembling at one corner of his mouth, until Jock began to unbuckle his belt. Then he started to talk, rapidly.