Book One of a drawling, picaresque, scatology-inflected tale in which eccentric twins search for the perfect yacht and a leisurely Mediterranean cruise–but instead find international terrorism, outrÃ© sexual hijinks and a gaggle of bumbling bureaucrats hot on their trail.
Firewater opens with a note from Farrell, claiming that his book is based on notes given him by the now-institutionalized main character, Ned Kelly, recounting the Kelly boys’ big adventure. The Kellys, fraternal twins from Canada, were â€œfar from identical in appearance or temperament. Liam was a good twenty pounds heavier than Ned, several inches taller, and something of a phenomenon in the snoring department.” The book’s improbable, entertaining plot begins with Ned’s search for the perfect boat in various foreign ports. Then it’s all mayhem. Charismatic IRA heavy, â€œThe Wee Lad”–aka Sean McManus, whose â€œfunny little tattoo” is the source of his nickname–is the prime mover of the baddies. Evocatively named plods PC Scrapper, Ramsbottom of the Yard and the corrupt DS Buttsnyffe (â€œpronounced Bet-sneeveâ€¦derived from an ancient Jutish dialect, meaning â€˜sharp blade’ ”) come and go, while Rosicrucians and other fringe weirdies confuse things. The book is chock-full of playful acronyms such as MERDE (or Maritime Eclectic Research and Development Enterprises) and silly half-puns. Digressions abound, including the disturbing shaggy-dog story of the high old times at Chateau Insouciance, where very naughty goings-on include date-rape drugs and advanced S&M techniques. For readers eager to learn the ins and outs of international sanitation, the novel includes several extremely detailed descriptions of the toilets, pissoirs and other â€œconveniences” encountered by the narrator while on his rambling voyage of discovery. It’s all too much, really. But that’s Firewater’s bizarre charm. Readers will be eager for Part Two, which promises even more intricate crossings and double-crossings for the blundering Kellys and their bizarre, partisan supporting crew.
Yachties (both real and aspirational) will thrill to this funny, sunny oceanic ramble.