The Flanagan Fludd Literary Festival is put on hold when a collateral relative of its namesake is strung up in his own church.
The Rev. Sebastian Fludd, vicar of St. Teath’s Mallborne, was an inoffensive soul. The only scenario more unlikely than that he should have hanged himself is that he should have annoyed someone else enough to take the trouble to do so. Luckily, Sir Simon Bognor, head of the Board of Trade’s Special Investigations Department, is staying with the vicar’s cousin, Sir Branwell Fludd. So when Chief Constable Jones indicates that his one and only interest in the case is not stirring up any trouble, Bognor, variously assisted by his wife Monica and his right-hand man Harvey Contractor, is available to interrogate the suspects, beginning, of course, with his host and his wife Lady Camilla. Whether Bognor, who aptly “felt as if he had never really grown up,” is questioning grieving widow Dorcas Fludd, operatic soprano Vicenza Book (née Marigold Bean), or Festival Writer-in-Residence Martin Allgood, the dialogue is so relentlessly facetious and self-gratifying, in the Wodehouse manner, that even the most experienced armchair sleuths will have trouble grasping the truth beneath the industrial-strength persiflage. It doesn’t help that Heald (Stop Press, 1999, etc.), after signaling the potential importance early on of a key clue, never presents it directly to the gentle reader.
A feast of blather, more full of fun than genuine wit or humor, that’s bound to flatter like-minded fans into approval.