Book Review – What Ho, Automaton!


Author: Chris Dolley

****4 stars

Paying homage to, whilst parodying, the work of P. G. Wodehouse, and with just a snippet of Jasper Fforde style comedy, these two stories are a delightful romp in the world of Reginald Worcester, gentleman consulting detective, and Reeves, his gentleman consulting detective’s personal gentle-automaton.

These laugh out loud stories are a playful take on a wonderful relationship between the permanently bewildered and ‘boggled’ Worcester and the cool calm and collected Reeves. Who according to Worcester and his belief in the mind enlarging properties of fish has a ‘turbot charged’ intellect, but is quite unable to understand the importance of Eunuchs and Orang-utans.

In what Ho, Automaton! Reeves is liberated from a cupboard in the Drones Club attic where he has spent the last fourteen years. Unfortunately for Reeves he is dressed as a fairground fortune teller, and is not too happy about it. Reggie tells his tale of woe to Reeves and he is cajoled into assisting Reggie with his dictatorial ‘aunt’ problem. Making use of Reeves’ immense brain they take a trip to the country and a few misunderstandings in the troth plighted department and bizarre adventures ensue.

Something Rummy This Way Comes involves more aunt initiated problems for Reggie as it has been dictated by his Aunt Bertha that he must attend every ball and dinner party in this season’s calendar and that he must get engaged to one of this year’s debutantes. A demoralised Reggie looks to Reeves for help and Reeves suggests the Reggie act as if he is trying to get married whilst utilising a variety of ‘deb repellents’ simultaneously.

Six cloves of garlic later Reggie feels that Reeves’ plan is working reasonably well until he comes across Emmeline Dreadnought who is another force to be reckoned with. When Reggie enquires as to whether something is the matter with Emmeline she informs him that she thinks that one of the debs has been kidnapped and that the family won’t inform the police.

Verifying that this is the case and discovering that more debs are also missing, Reggie, Reeves and Emmeline start detecting their way towards catching the kidnappers. Unfortunately Reggie has been reading a lot of detective fiction and believes that the guilty party is always the person you least suspect, hence the search for Eunuchs and Orang-utans. A lots of balls, a dinner, and a bit of a disguise later they are well on their way to catching the culprits.

If you are a fan of Wodehouse or Fforde you will love these tales and the ‘rummy’ situations that Reggie manages to get himself into while trying to find the deb kidnapping ‘cove’.

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