Brett, Simon - 'Blotto, Twinks and the Riddle of the Sphinx'
"Anyway, Razzy.' said Twinks, 'we need you to lace up your thinking boots. It seems to me a guinea to a groat that Corky Froggett's upset the spirit of Pharaoh Sinus Nefertop, and we need to get the poor thimble off the gaff before something really murdy happens to him."
The set-up is as simple as it is silly. It is the 1920s. Blotto and Twinks are adventurous siblings living in the aristocratic opulence of Tawcester Towers, Tawcestershire. Blotto is incredibly dim (he splits his affections equally between his car, his cricket bat, and his horse) but invaluable in a scrap; Twinks is exceptionally intelligent and beautiful to a fault. Unfortunately their accountant informs them in chapter one that the Lyminster coffers are empty. Their mother the Dowager Duchess insisted on selling the family gold and investing in shares just before the stock market crash. Result: The Towers may have to be turned into a hotel.
With creditors barking at their heels, Blotto and Twinks embark on a treasure-hunt in the darker recesses of their home and manage to turn up an ancient sarcophagus brought back from Egypt by an ancestor. Unwisely, their faithful chauffeur Corky Froggett opens the sarcophagus before Twinks has had a chance to decipher the hieroglyphic health warning, incurring the curse of the mummified Pharaoh Sinus Nefertop. Before anybody realises what is going on, Corky is visited by the first six Plagues of Egypt (including Moron), and is in imminent danger of Boils.
Advised by a letter from Erasmus 'Razzy' Holofernes, a wise Oxford don who has worked with Twinks in the past, our heroes take the sarcophagus back to Egypt, smuggling it in Blotto's much-loved and much-pampered Lagonda (using a special compartment last used to smuggle mafia bullion). Corky Froggett comes along, partially out of loyalty and partially out of a desire to buy dirty postcards once he is abroad.
Throw in a comically sweaty Socialist orator named Alfred Sprockett, some wheedling accountants, and a horsey love interest for Blotto, and the effect is Wodehousian. The jokes are good, sometimes satirical but usually daft. Blotto's astounding dimness is the usual butt of the humour.
"He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear."
This is all harmless fun, closer to a sitcom than a crime drama. An ideal light read.
Read another review of BLOTTO, TWINKS AND THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX.
Rich Westwood, England