Phoenix, £7.99, 282pp from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers, By Paul Torday
In a lively credit-crunch satire, Paul Torday reprises the comic voice of his successful debut Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
The book's genial narrator, Hector Chetwode-Talbot, known as Eck, is an ex-army officer. He now works as a "greeter" for a hedge fund run by an old school friend, Bilbo Mountwilliams – a charming player whose family crest shows a cat licking its paws, alongside the motto "Semper plus".
On one of his trips to the south of France, Eck meets Charlie Summers, a marketing man trying to sell Japanese dog-food to the world.
While Bilbo bobs around on inflated credit, Charlie's hapless business venture proves not so watertight. This debonair and elegantly written farce borrows from Woodhouse and Sharpe.
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