A. G. Bessell owns a printing shop, lives in an ornate and eccentric East London apartment house, now and then smuggles diamonds throughout the Continent, and would be living a life just about grand but for the fact that his girlish bed-mates keep disappearing, someone's tried to bomb him to bits in Venice, the cops are onto his free-lance activities, and his smuggling-bosses won't allow him a breather. That can cause ruddy existential crisis in a bloke. Llewellyn (How Green Was My Valley and a little library of others) prods A. G. even further by means of an underplot involving his landlord and the start of a new political party dedicated to a sort of Ezra-Poundian, social-credit economics that's antibanks, anti-usury, and anti-union. The politics--and A.G.'s dubious moral stance--seem not totally foreign to Llewellyn's heart, and they give the book a not disagreeable odd-ball texture. When A.G. is forced to murder his chief tormentor among the smugglers, when he has to flee the country in front of a tax rap--well, you get the feeling not of ethical extremity but of that'll-show-the-bastards. We can't guarantee that the Limey dialogue and the hobbyhorse politics (the book is a sort of cartoon version of Margaret Drabble's The Ice Age) will travel all that well--there's a lot of smoke and bother. But it's robust smoke and, in its eccentric way, quite nice.