This is a somewhat off-the-wall novel – not at all what I expected. It begins decidedly British and somewhat stiff – “Oh sure, the cut-price, generic whisky’s, or even a cask of supermarket wine; Chateau de Cardboard, will get you pissed, but if you want to do it in style and with a modicum of aplomb, you can’t beat an eight-year-old or more, single-malt, true Scotch and that was exactly what Glenfiddich was.” The dialect is apparent throughout. At one point, the wife of our comic relief complains, “Bloody hell, he’s gone and gotten himself pissed again, she thought. God, he really is turning into an old sot.”
Quite frankly, the main character Tony is a bit stodgy. I found him a bit stilted. But the supporting cast is a hoot. The “girl friend” is sassy but believable with endearing dialogue like, “Get off your knees you silly, old bugger, you’ll get arthritis or something. Of course, I’ll marry you.”
But the best character by FAR is the snotty brother-in-law, Frank. This is a character with so few redeeming qualities you’ll simply LOVE to hate him. He’s a caricature within a caricature you’ll find impossible to turn away from. First, he begins as Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. “As Frank often did when faced with a situation outside of his control or knowledge, he closed his eyes and began to count pound notes in his head.” But he goes on to put Walter Mitty to shame. He begins the book with a legitimate possible promotion, but mid-point he’s “day-dreaming about his future illustrious position, as Chairman of the Bank and of course, his exalted knighthood to come. There was a smile creasing his face as he fell into a deep sleep, filled with dreams of royalty, tiaras, morning suits and corgis.”
All vestiges of stodginess are far gone by a third of the way in, and the priest and housekeeper definitely put the book out of PG-13 territory. In fact, the further you get, the faster the twists and turns come. Be prepared to be surprised!
– Read via Kindle Unlimited.