LOL funny all the way through…
I have been quite fond of Simon Brett’s earlier books, especially the Mrs. Pargeter series. So I was intrigued by his Blotto & Twinks series, which looked to be a little different in style – and it was – a lot. The first book in the series, Blotto, Twinks, and the Ex-Kings Daughter, is a light-hearted romp through an English country-house mystery, but make no mistake, Brett has his tongue quite firmly in his cheek all the time. From the first scene, where Blotto’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Tawcester, replies “Not now, Blotto. We have guests”, when he tells her about the dead body in the library, to the (almost) final scene where Blotto’s sister Twink’s spot-on coaching helps him escape the adoring Princess without causing a war (“One last kiss – and then we part forever!”), Ex-Kings Daughter is a delightful spoof of the genre, the characters, and the dialogue.
Somewhere underneath the fun, though, there is a murder mystery – see “dead body in library” above. But as is often the case with send-ups, the plot serves the characters, rather than the other way around, and there is a wonderful cast of them. From Tawcester, readers meet Blotto, the classically handsome but dreadfully dim spare heir to the Dukedom; Twinks, his sharp as a tack sister; the Dowager Duchess (aka “Mater”), who is upset that a horse-riding accident has kept her from hunting this season; Grimshaw, the butler, who keeps the staff in line; Harvey, the maid who keeps Grimshaw in line; and many more. And from Mitteleuropia, we have the ex-King and his entourage, including, of course, Ex-Princess Ethelinde, the daughter of the title. Brett puts these all together, adds a dash of diplomacy, a neighboring Crown Prince, and a coup or two, and comes up with a book which I had to read by myself, so as not to annoy my husband by laughing out loud too much.
Although this series is a new direction for Brett, I loved it, and I hope the series continues to many titles. (As an aside, I do think the series has been done a disservice by frequent comparisons to PG Wodehouse. This is not meant to be a PG Wodehouse murder mystery – it’s meant to be a parody of what a murder mystery written by PG Wodehouse might look like…) In any case, I don’t give many five-star reviews, but Ex-King’s Daughter gets one, and my thanks to Felony & Mayhem Press and Edelweiss for the review copy!