by Gideon Defoe (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2006)
Oh, how I loved this book! I heard Chris Addison talking about the series on My Life in Books, and the extract he read out had me (and him!) in stitches, so when I saw this one at the library I snapped it up. It's actually the third book in the series, but it didn't matter in the slightest that I didn't start with An Adventure with Scientists. It's still brilliant!
It's a hilarious, lively, tongue-in-cheek and completely addictive little book in which the Pirate Captain (Terror of the High Seas), his number two (the pirate with a scarf) and his motley band of rogues team up with Marx and Engels to find out who is attempting to discredit the communist movement across Europe. It's a real romp - but if you want to find out how statuesque blonde ladies, opera, French schoolchildren, waxworks, bears and a volcano fit into the story... well, you'll just have to read it for yourself!
The humour is sly, ridiculous and occasionally a little bit naughty, and with the genuinely informative but pithy footnotes scattered through the pages, I can see why previous reviewers have often drawn comparisons with Terry Pratchett. A set of these books would make a great gift idea I think, whether the recipient is a keen reader or not, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the rest of the series for more chaos and chuckles in the near future!
- "His nose was hairy. His forehead was hairy. Even his hands were hairy. And his beard was a great bushy black number, which looked like he had sellotaped a bunch of cats to the bottom of his face and then frightened them with a loud noise."
- "'And you'll notice that I'm not drinking from my favourite mug,' the Pirate Captain went on, indicating his mug. The Pirate Captain's favourite mug was one he'd got from a garden centre. It had a picture of a flea on the side that only appeared when it had a hot drink in it. This one just had 'Monkey World' emblazoned across the handle and was about his fifth favourite."
- "I think of it like this - there are only two certainties in life. One is the inevitability of death, and the other is uncertainty itself. So when everything seems to be going badly, it's probably meant to be. Or perhaps it's fate. Either way, it's something we'll never really know, and it doesn't pay to waste too much time thinking about it. Eat a chop instead."
- "During his long career and many adventures, the Pirate Captain had often found himself saying, 'Quickly! Through this door!' In the past, saying, 'Quickly! Through this door!' had variously led to: a room full of scorpions; a nest of killer African bees; the ceremonial chamber of a sinister cabal of Satanists; and a pit of stinging nettles. Saying, 'Quickly! Through this door!' had never yet led to: a stable full of fast horses; a useful cupboard of muskets; a pile of ham; or the shower room of a young women's tennis club."
One final note: I couldn't actually write out these 'Notable Quotables' without giggling again. It's that good. :)
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library. Arrrrrrr!