BEEF WELLINGTON BLUE by Max Davidson

BEEF WELLINGTON BLUE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Davidson (The Wolf, 1984) has written a sharply entertaining second novel about a cynical English journalist hot on the trail of a murderous politician. The ""Blue"" of the title refers to the depression of jaded narrator John ""Beef"" Wellington, an obese, hard-drinking Fleet Street hack who covers the House of Commons for a sleazy tabloid. After 20 years on the beat, he's become utterly bored; he simply can't get excited over the petty gossip and minor scandals he'd once loved. All of this changes when a member of Parliament has a fatal heart attack and Beef is sent (""Under the British constitution, dead MPs need to be replaced by less dead ones"") to the provincial town of Wopsley to report on the new election. There, during an often-hilarious campaign which features a fierce battle over a controversial pooper-scooper law, he meets a woman named Anna Wiseman, who tells him of her certainty that John Carter, a powerful and magnetic Cabinet Minister, had murdered her husband, Peter, the year before, making it look like a hit-and-run accident. Beef is rejuvenated. He gleefully tracks down the story, at one point literally frothing at the mouth when several bits of circumstantial evidence come together, the most damaging being that Peter Wiseman, at the time of his death, was writing a book that accused Carter of financial irregularities on the Stock Exchange. Beef resolves to keep all this a secret until he can break the story in his own way--and garner vast amounts of money from book and movie rights--but he's nagged by the persistent questioning of Christopher Jackson, a naive young MP who idolizes Carter and suspects something's up. Disgusted by hero worship of any kind, Beef savagely destroys the young man's illusions, and the novel ends in a surprising and unexpectedly tragic way when Christopher grabs a gun and heads for the House of Commons where Carter, now Chancellor of the Exchequer, is addressing the assembled Members during a grave monetary crisis. At once a fully-realized fiction, and a pointed satire: if ethics were Vitamin D, Davidson is saying, journalists and politicians would have rickets.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
Publisher: William Heinemann--dist. by David & Charles