I’m reviewing two books by the same author. I got the second book in the series, Bones in the Belfry from the library at Linda’s suggestion. Once I started it however, I decided that I would like to read the books in order, so bought the first book, A Load of Old Bones which was excellent. I wondered if the sequel could possibly be as good - and I was not disappointed.
All the Reverend Francis Oughterard had ever wanted was some peace and quiet, instead he becomes entangled in a nightmare world of accidental murder, predatory female parishioners, officious policemen and a drunken bishop. As the vicar's life spirals out of control it is his supercilious cat, Maurice, and bone obsessed hound, Bouncer, who save the day. A Load of Old Bones is a charming and farcical romp through a 1950's mythical Surrey.
In the second book, having extricated himself from the embarrassing events of the the first book, the Rev. Oughterard is now plunged into the traumas of art theft. Forced by the shady Nicholas Ingaza into being a fence for stolen paintings, he endures the investigative probings of terrifying female novelist and amateur sleuth, Maud Tubbly Pole, hell-bent on portraying him in her next novel. Haunted by the recent murder in the parish and fearful of exposure in his new role of 'receiver', the Reverend blunders haplessly in a mesh of intrigue and risible deceit. As before, his antics are commented upon by his cat, the acidic Maurice, and redoubtable bone-grinding ally, the dog Bouncer. A story narrated in turn by a vicar, a dog and a cat sounds a bit off-putting, but the author pulls it off, and develops the personalities of the animals and their interactions with each other and the various human characters in the book in an insightful way.
These are light, easy to read books with an eccentric cast of characters - they made me chuckle because they were caricatures which reminded me of particular people. The book is unusual and imaginative, there is intrigue and suspense - the vicar kept getting himself into dreadful predicaments which seemed impossible to extricate himself from. However they are also very funny. They are perfect for a relaxed summer read and I thoroughly enjoyed them both.