Don’t Point That Thing at Me

Don’t Point That Thing at Me is the first in a series by Kyril Bonfiglioli about a morally-dubious art-dealer named Charles Mortdecai. For those of you into films, Johnny Depp is to portray him in a film due for release next year. I think it’s quite good casting. He’ll probably have to work on the accent, but otherwise, probably a good fit.

However, this is about the novel.

It is described on the front cover, by no less an authority than the New Yorker as “an unholy collaboration between PG Wodehouse and Ian Fleming”. The Wodehouse comparison is what led me to pick it up in the first place. I like Jeeves and Wooster.

I was a little disappointed by Mortdecai. There is, it is true, a humourous thread running throughout the whole, but it is not in-your-face humour. Simply a manner of speaking, a turn of phrase. Occasionally something happens that is funny. But it didn’t really strike me as very Wodehousian. The writing seemed denser than Fleming’s, although Mortdecai certainly presented himself as a sort-of secret agent. He is, after all, something of a criminal, and the whole book is his tale of transporting a stolen painting.

On the whole, I’m somewhat ambivalent about Mortdecai. It is not a book which I condemn, but nor do I praise it to the skies. If you want adventure with a little humour, sure, you might like it. If you want humour with a little adventure, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

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