Read May 2022 Recommended for Wodehouse fans ★ ★ ★ 1/2
While Bertie Wodehouse is a delight, there’s only so many times one can read about the cow creamer escapade. I think. (I’m putting it at once every five to seven years, if you are interested). So when I saw this book advertised as ‘Wodehousian,’ my interest was definitely piqued.
This is definitely an homage to Wodehouse. Or an updated version. I can’t say ‘copy,’ because Antony Boisjoly is definitely smarter, even as he shares Bertie’s fondness for having a glass of restorative:
“Doesn’t it?” I created another unbalanced blend, granting shameless favouritism to the whisky over the soda.”
Anty, as he is known to his friends, is called to the manor house of Fray when his old pal (“Fiddlesticks, for Fairfax and we called him Fairfax because his real name is Evelyn”) is accused of murdering his wealthy uncle, Sebastian Caterfell. Anty has a reputation for solving a problem or two among his friends and provides both the insight of Jeeves and the comedic commentary of Bertie as he tries to help Fiddles out. There’s definitely some lingering resentment of the late Caterfell, as he had applied some austre measures to managing the estate:
“You’ll have to manage your own bags, I’m afraid,” said Fiddles. “We’re on a skeleton staff. Butler, footman, cook, maid, and occasional scullery. And the one remaining gardener. It’s how I imagine living on a deserted island would be.”
Fitzsimmons definitely has the comedy of manners down pat, and I’ll freely admit to enjoying Anty’s comments on the upper class.
“You mean you’d actually have to earn an officer’s rank?” I said, aghast. “Is that even possible, in an army of equals?”
It’s a locked room murder mystery that goes through a couple of twists, one of them quite surprising. It ends up being a bit more complicated than I prefer, but with all the witty byplay it remained interesting. Fitzsimmons did a nice job of retaining some respect for somewhat stereotypical side characters and imbued them with a touch of pathos. It’s always enjoyable to spend the afternoon with Bertie and a glass of refreshment. Or Anty.
“The resemblance is uncanny. You look enough alike to be close friends or acquaintances.”