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 British import about a wimpy English professor, Arthur Noone, on sabbatical at a regional university in Missouri. Rees seems to think the device of naming a character ``Noone'' when he is, indeed, no one, rather clever. In the same manner, his Missouri college town is named Cape Retardeau. And Rees, using Arthur, spends a lot of time opining on how stupid the locals are, although Arthur isn't very bright himself, and the locals often make fun of him. Ostensibly, Arthur has come to the States to study the idiosyncrasies of American English, but in truth he's recovering from a divorce, so he spends his time drinking, playing pool, and ogling coeds. He has two unsatisfactory tàte-Ö-tàtes and then falls for an iceberg named Elsa. Bumbling along, taken in by pool sharks and con-men, he finds himself in the middle of both a private detective's stake-out and an FBI sting operation. Then he's kidnapped, and through a wholly uncharacteristic, nearly accidental set of actions he turns the tables and becomes a local hero. In ``Cape Retardeau''? Not likely, but Rees doesn't act as though even he takes this novel seriously. Arthur's heroism fails to win Elsa, so it's on to the English Department and back to class, where Arthur's lecture to his unenthusiastic students tries to draw a linguistic lesson from his encounters with the underworld. That fizzles, too, and Arthur wanders off-stage, none the wiser. A far less accomplished version of Graham Greene's entertainments--almost a parody of them, in fact. It isn't bad when Rees keeps his tongue in his cheek, but he undercuts his poor professor so severely it's hard to care about him, and, unlike Greene's, Rees's contempt for America is neither veiled nor well-informed.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1996
ISBN: 1-85411-145-0
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dufour
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1996