Author: Kyril Bonfiglioli
Genre: Black Comedy
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Paperback: 528 pages
Publication date: (New Edition) 26th July 2001
Where to read? The Orangery, Kew Gardens
Refreshments: Buttery crumpets or afternoon tea with brandy I suggest Calvados.
“You couldn’t smuggle under the duvet with anything more disreputable and delightful”
Charlie Mortdecai is a louche art dealer with a dependable yet thuggish man-servant called Jock, some distinctly dubious friends in the London underworld and some great connections to the British upper classes. Traversing London to America and then landing in Jersey Charles Mortdecai is a survivor of the most unexpected life situations. He features in the these three brilliant black-comedy thrillers originally published in the 70s and collected in this volume by Penguin.
Charlie Mortdecai is a refreshing anti-hero, he’s not attractive or particularly endearing but he’s certainly entertaining. The escapades in which he finds himself are usually inadvertent and as a man with few morals and an intrinsic survival instinct he is often found playing on both sides of the law. Supporting characters are found in his brute of a man-servant Jock who is attuned to Charlie’s every whim from buttery crumpets for breakfast to knocking off a difficult individual. I am extremely jealous as I would love one such assistant for myself, not to kill, just for the crumpets. There is also Mortdecai’s unlikely and sexually vociferous and slightly terrifying wife, Johanna, who I admire for being able to silence any man with a glance.
Kyril Bonfiglioli has a unique and sardonic wit that is refreshing and within a genre that is quickly becoming my favourite. His turn of phrase is beautifully executed and often unexpected smacking you in the face with the most unexpected and acutely hilarious style. His lack of political correctness has created in Charlie Mortdecai an unlikely hero and it’s not hugely surprising that the powers that be in Hollywood have gone to Johnny Depp to portray him in the film to be released in early 2015.
Seriously entertaining and addictive this had me smirking, laughing and gasping in shock, I have already successfully recommended to a number of people who are taken equal enjoyment from these stories. I will definitely be purchasing more of his works and buying tickets to the cinema when the film is released, I seriously hope Depp doesn’t disappoint.
Rating: 10 out of 10