Rob reviews the comically dark Don’t Point That Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli.

This is an odd book. There’s no denying that. Described as a strange mix between Fleming and Wodehouse, Don’t Point That At Me is the first book featuring Charles Mortdecai and his faithful manservant Jock Strapp. Mortdecai is an eccentric art dealer who has frequent run-ins with the police. Here he is tasked (and tortured) into returning a missing Goya painting which has some inappropriate photos hidden inside…

Despite what’s listed above, the plot here is rather wafer thin and serves purely to get Mortdecai into one ridiculous situation after another. It’s a number of farcical scenarios that do manage to raise a smile. A lot of the jokes come from wordplay or from Mortdecai our narrator playing with his method of storytelling. There are plenty of quips and witticisms woven in between flashes of violence and torture that certainly ensures that you don’t know what happens next.

The recent film adaptation has been roundly slated by critics and from reading this I can see why. I can visualise Jonny Depp in the role quite easily except he seems to be playing the character rather differently from the book. Mortdecai isn’t just a straightforward comic character to be laughed at: he’s very witty, incredibly resourceful and also often happy to sacrifice others in order to get what he wants. Depp seems to be playing him as a drunken Terry Thomas lothario which doesn’t even come close to his character.YearOfTheSpy

Overall I enjoyed it, sniggering and laughing away at a number of stand out moments, yet at the same time began to grow a little tired of it as the the rather incredulous plot staggered on. It does stay on the same heightened level of farce throughout and by the end I was growing weary of it despite being quite a short book. Only at the novel’s conclusion, where it takes a rather dramatic dark turn, did my interest begin to pick up once more. But if you are looking for a short, sharp book with some stand-out moments – both comic and violent – then this might be worth a try.

Don’t Point That Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli is out now.

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