Readers and critics alike are toasting the American appearance of Kyril Bonfiglioli's wickedly funny cult mysteries, first published in the UK in the 1970s. Featuring the Honorable Charlie Mortdecai — degenerate aristocrat, amoral art dealer, seasoned epicurean, unwilling assasin, and general knave-about-Piccadilly — Something Nasty In the Woodshed is, chr...
Readers and critics alike are toasting the American appearance of Kyril Bonfiglioli's wickedly funny cult mysteries, first published in the UK in the 1970s. Featuring the Honorable Charlie Mortdecai — degenerate aristocrat, amoral art dealer, seasoned epicurean, unwilling assasin, and general knave-about-Piccadilly — Something Nasty In the Woodshed is, chronologically, the third in the Mortdecai trilogy, after Don't Point That Thing at Me and After You With the Pistol, although written second.
The players are, once again, Charlie, Johanna, and Jock (the thuggish anti-Jeeves), and there is plenty of liquor, lasciviousness, and filthy lucre to keep the plot turning. As Stephen Fry put it, "You couldn't snuggle under the duvet with anything more disreputable and delightful."
Life always seems to be more complicated than it should be for Charlie Mortdecai: degenerate aristocrat, amoral art dealer, seasoned epicurean, unwilling assassin, and confirmed coward.
Something Nasty in the Woodshed finds Charlie exiled from London due to his growing unpopularity on account of some shady art deals. Taking refuge in a country estate on the Channel Island of Jersey, he embarks on a well-intended hedonistic interlude. But his vacation soon morphs into a macabre manhunt, as Charlie seeks to expose a local rapist whose modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to that of a warlock from ancient British mythology known as ?The Beast of Jersey.
From Publishers Weekly
This third installment of the scintillating British mystery series originally published in the U.K. in the 1970s finds shady art dealer Charlie Mortdecai, randy wife Johanna and butler Jock, a "one-eyed, one-fanged" ex-convict, sojourning on the isle of Jersey. The setting provides many targets—drunken peasants, rich tourists, quaint French customs, unintelligible patois—for Charlie's jaundiced drolleries. His omnidirectional disdain is intruded upon by a string of brutal rapes, with Satanic ritual overtones, that victimize his neighbors and embroil him in a farcical investigation featuring fruitless stakeouts and a Black Mass. Through it all, Charlie keeps his priorities straight: avoiding personal danger and inconvenience and ensuring that the flow of food and alcohol is never interrupted. Bonfiglioli's comic invention and lacerating, politically incorrect humor are in brilliant form, but they take on a somewhat rancid edge in this outing. Unlike the innocuous art thievery that figured in Don't Point That Thing at Me, Bonfiglioli's first volume, serial rape is the wrong background for the facetiousness and light misogyny that characterizes Charlie's satirical voice. Weighed down by this dissonance, the laughs finally falter and the story ends on a dark note of trauma and suicide. Fans of Charlie's dissolute charm and outrageous wit will find it, but some readers may decide that certain crimes just aren't funny. (July 5)
Straight from the era of joke cocktail napkins, this 1972 Brit-farce mystery marks the end of a trilogy featuring "degenerate aristocrat" Charlie Mortdecai. Positive notices generated by last year's first American publication of his debut, Don't Point That Thing at Me, suggest the shady art dealer and sunny wit remains a cherished favorite of knowing diehards, some of whom compare the late Bonfiglioli favorably to Wodehouse. But this outing, at least, which finds Mortdecai having a jolly time tracking down a masked serial rapist near his home on Jersey with the assistance of lusty wife Johanna and insolent manservant Jock Strapp (whee!), hasn't quite aged like fine cheese. And yet, this reprobate's rapier running commentary on all things debauched, debased, and dunderheaded is not without its aggressively tasteless charms. Anyone who fails to suppress a smile at arch zingers such as "Never let a day go by without making an enemy, is what I say, even if it's only a woman" might find Mortdecai a boon companion all the way through to the mystery's surprisingly dark and sober resolution.