Something nasty in the bookshop
UNDERRATED: The case for Kyril Bonfiglioli
A self-styled count, Bonfiglioli was, at various times, a soldier, a sabre champion, a keen if not always accurate shot, a Balliol man, an employee of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, an editor of sci-fi and an art dealer, in which last capacity he once purchased a Tintoretto for £45, having bargained its owner down from £60. His chief claim on posterity, however, is his fiction.
Bonfiglioli's first book, Don't Point That Thing at Me, was published in 1972, and bore an authorial disclaimer: "This is not an autobiographical novel: it is about some other portly, dissolute, immoral and middle-aged art dealer" - viz the Hon Charlie Mortdecai, who narrates his ever more outlandish adventures with his faithful thug Jock in stingingly snobbish and unmistakably Wodehousian tones, though he spoke of matters which might have made even Jeeves grow pallid.
Don't Point... is about, roughly speaking, what happens to Mortdecai when he swipes a Goya from the Prado, exports it to a crazed millionaire in New Mexico and winds up being pursued by a number of unsavoury types to Morecambe Bay and, or so it appears, certain death. But the novel scooped various prizes, so, with no more than a little fancy footwork, Mortdecai and Jock were resurrected for After You with the Pistol (Mortdecai finds himself in the embarrassing position of having to assassinate the Queen) and Something Nasty in the Woodshed (Mortdecai and Jock tangle with Satanism on Jersey).
Alas, all three volumes soon lapsed from print, as did Bonfiglioli's sole venture into historical fiction, All the Tea in China, and Bonfiglioli was all but forgotten save by a handful of admirers (a group that includes Julian Barnes, Brian Aldiss and Stephen Fry). Things looked up a year or two ago, when Black Spring Press republished all Bonfiglioli's completed work.Now there are rumours of two further treats: Craig Brown is said to have agreed to complete the Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery, and the author's widow is editing a Bonfiglioli Reader. What Bonfiglioli's reputation really needs, though, is the kind of popularity conferred by a film or televison adaptation: he deserves better than cult status.
Arts & Ents blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
Further Space Oddity: Jeremy Paxman grills British astronaut Major Tim Peake in weirdly aggressive Newsnight interview
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
Cannes Film Festival 2013 review: Behind The Candelabra - Michael Douglas brilliantly captures Liberace's showmanship
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 3 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 4 Exclusive: Championship clubs set to push for safe-standing trials
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.