Monday 12 September 2016

Don’t Point That Thing At Me, Kyril Bonfiglioli

Don’t Point That Thing At Me is an irreverent romp through the seedier side of London’s art scene with the foppish Charlie Mortdecai as our guide. Written in first person narrative Mortdecai often speaks conspiratorially to the reader, including us in in-jokes that we can’t always understand, suggesting that we would agree with some of his morally questionable opinions. He is cocky, wealthy, and judgmental – attempting to trick those he does not like into revealing their ignorance of the finer things in life. What he lacks in physical aptitude is balanced out by his manservant/live-in thug Jock. He seems to be one of the few people that Charlie has any lasting affection for and in some scenes their relationship has moments rather surprisingly bordering on tenderness.

The plot is somewhat all over the place as Charlie crosses continents in an attempt to deliver a stolen Goya. He proves himself to be inept and cowardly at times, Jock displaying unshakable loyalty as they find themselves in rather sticky situations. There is so much that is farcical in their tale that the moments of sincerity are often mistrusted.

Despite the alcoholic, misogynistic narrator whose belief system would have been outdated at the time of original publication, you can’t help but smile at moments while reading this. His brazen behaviour in the face of his nemesis Inspector Martland and the simple yet cunning techniques he uses to cover his crimes are amusing. There’s just about enough intrigue to keep your interest but the story arc is not strong enough to be truly gripping. Humour, snobbishness, and peril abound in this easy, light read that isn’t likely to linger long after reading.

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