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Billiard Balls, Pocket Pool, Datsun Cherries,
This review is from: Going to the Dogs (Perennial Mystery Library) (Paperback)
In Dan Kavanagh's (aka Julian Barnes) third mystery with Duffy as the ex-cop bisexual British protagonist, the crime is committed at Braunscomb Hall, the country estate of Vic Crowther, a newly rich man with a checkered history, married to Belinda Blessing, who had a successful career in another life exposing not one but both her mammary blessings to an adoring male public (a "topless bird"). Crowther has graciously thrown open his home to a motley crew: Angela, whose biological clock is running away, is engaged to Henry, an ace billiard player who is tied tightly to his mum's apron strings, a woman who probably has lived to be so old only because she is so nasty. When she meets Duffy, she calls him a "shirt-lifter" because of his sexual persuasion. Then there is Jimmy, who pines for Angela, and wanders in and out of the novel wearing a frogman wet suit. Sally and Damian make an interesting couple. They both like their coke but not out of a bottle and engage in one of the funniest, most lascivious escapades with billiard balls in the entire novel-- or in any novel for that matter. Mrs. Colin, a native of the Philippines, is the servant who discovers the body. Taffy is an ex-con into weightlifting and psychobabble. The list goes on. It's a shame that either Robert Altman or John Schlesinger did not make this sophisticated brittle comedy into a fine movie.
With a collection of potty-- I had to look the word up-- characters, the cynical Duffy has his work cut out for him. Some of his observations: "In the real world you married not for love but because someone else would have you." He wonders if there are "marriage enforcers" in the Yellow Pages. He is sometimes tempted by what he calls "upward sexual mobility." He opines that ex-cons, who would not steal dandruff from your collar are jumpy if "crept up on." He describes Angela as a "good-looking woman in need of a ten-thousand-mile service." It is deliciously ironic that Duffy likes to read highbrow restaurant reviews in a country famous for some of the worst cuisine ever tasted, Elizabeth David to the contrary not withstanding. He also gives brilliant interior monologues: example, how what we don't like cannot be simply something we hate; it is now a phobia. I was happy to see Duffy comment that "'all families go way back. I have just as many ancestors as the next man,'" something that Karl Marx said as well.
Stylish, witty, ribald and aptly named, GOING TO THE DOGS will tickle your funny bone.