What a crazy read this turned out to be, but a good bit of fun. The book opens with newly promoted Chief Inspector Terrence Morgan in his office when Millicent Fargenstropple literally bursts in (and the door with her) with a problem—a rather odd one for Lady Chatterley the cat, usually quite placid, has been disturbed and seen running across the room when they had a dinner guest. Morgan is clearly unimpressed, but promises to visit Bloome manor and investigate. Mrs Fargenstropple suspects burglars but the trouble is they’ve taken nothing, and no one has seen them. The Chief-Inspector’s initial visits prove (not surprisingly) futile, but he is asked to return and speak to the Fargenstropples’ niece Jessica. He agrees and appears at the appointed time to find not a gargoyle as the others in the family presumably are, but a gorgeous young woman, and one who seems to have her head on her shoulders, unlike Blandthorpe and Millicent Fargenstropple, each eccentric in their own way as is Blandthorpe’s aunt Louisa who lives in a small cottage on the estate as she doesn’t quite get on with Millicent. With Louisa live her collection of ferrets who are rather well trained (one even wears a bow), and can do all sorts of things. Also there is the Blandthorpe and Millicent’s young son, Irving, who is a budding scientist at 12 with a bunch of interesting experiments of his own. Things proceed on these lines, Morgan now keen to ‘investigate’ for he will at least spend some time with the pretty Jessica. But suddenly, it seems a burglar does strike and the family jewels go missing. There is an obvious suspect but how should Morgan go about proving it, or catching the person red-handed?
This is a very short read, just a little over a hundred pages, and one where the ‘action’ starts right on page one, and carries on right through. This is essentially a farce, and a pretty fun one with plenty of exaggeration and rather odd situations, and yet one which actually has an actual mystery element with a surprise at the end that I certainly didn’t see coming—nothing out of the world but yet a fairly nice twist, if one can call it that.
As the description promises, there are indeed plenty of animals, from ferocious dogs who the Fargenstropples keep loose in the compound to guard the house, but who surprisingly ignore loud football fans, to horses, trained mice, and trained ferrets, besides of course the one with whom the story starts, Lady Chatterley, the grey Persian. Inspector Morgan is not overfond of animals, and gets into a few scrapes with them but at the end manages to come out alright.
The characters too, again, as promised are certainly quirky, from the obvious ‘villain’ of the piece to the household staff, everyone is to a degree eccentric or at least somewhat odd, but that’s what makes the whole adventure more fun. Jessica is perhaps the most normal, and for the most part, Morgan too, can perhaps be classed as that (although after a rather mad bit just before the end, I wondered about that too). But the characters also have some more than one side to them, and more than one ends up surprising the reader.
For a very quick, fun, and certainly pretty crazy read, this can make a nice pick!
I had featured this book earlier this month on Shelf Control (here); writing the description for that post was what made me want to pick this up immediately and I did, pretty much!