This novel is something a little different for me. It is a satire set in the UK at the present moment. There are striking parallels between these days and the 1930s. There’s a lot of racist people around who are crawling out of the woodwork as they have been encouraged by the implications of the Brexit vote.
“I know Stalky Stark, I never knew his first name was Frederick.”
“And how long have you known him?” asked Ingram.
“About 20 years, we first met at the Varsity, y’know.”
“And in all that time you never asked his first name?” asked Ingram.
“I am sure I did, but once you use a nickname then you get used to using it, y’know, I am not sure I could have called him Fred, Freddie, or Frederick, once I started to call him Stalky.”
“Why did you call him Stalky?” asked Ingram enjoying the slight uncomfortableness he thought he was generating in Tompkins.
“Well, woof, woof, now there’s a question and a half and no mistake – well the clean answer is that his eyes stood out on stalks whenever he saw a pretty girl – he saw many of them, at least he thought he did.”
“And what is the unclean answer?” asked Spiffy Wiffy laughing nervously, like a hyena whose free lunch had been commandeered by a large, fierce lion.
“Well, woof, Spiffy Wiffy, Stalky used to love sticking his stalk into those pretty girls on a regular basis – he got into trouble with various diseases and upset boyfriends but survived.”
“Well, given what you say, you might be surprised that Frederick Stark has been found dead at his house in Sussex,” intoned Ingram watching Tompkins carefully.
“What?” said Tompkins smacking both hands to his face, an act that would have knocked out many men for hours, but in Tompkins’s case, invigorated him.
“I am sorry for your loss, Tomcat,” said Spiffy Wiffy.
“Bish and bosh,” said Tompkins, wondering what to say next, “oh, well, that is a surprise, how was it done, I mean how did it happen, whodunnit Ingram?”
“Well, the cleaner found him naked on his bed, he’d had sexual intercourse, but he’d been suffocated, we think by an expert, a naked woman had covered his mouth with her muff and killed him.”
“Was he smiling?” asked Tompkins.