Ben Schott’s second Jeeves and Wooster book proves an enjoyable continuation of PG Wodehouse’s classic characters. Schott writes in a distinctive style that is somewhere between homage and postmodern response and his story – Bertie attempts to save the Drones Club from bankruptcy while continuing his haphazard work as a secret service freelancer – is more eventful and action-packed than Wodehouse would ever have countenanced. The laughs keep coming, the pivotal character of Iona McAuslan is far better drawn than any woman in the originals and it ends on a splendid cliffhanger.
Splendid stuff, but the mixture is too rich. Protracted set pieces — a rowdy game of croquet, high jinks at the races — outstay their welcome. Schott’s Bertie converts an affable duffer into a Wildean wit, quipping out epigrams (“No valet should be a hero to his man”), even punning in French. There are also jumps out of period — jokes such as: “Carry on, Constable.” References to films of the era jostle with allusions to The Shining or Goodfellas. It’s deliberate — some of the gags are glossed by Schott in skittishly erudite endnotes. Yet, less homage than upstaging, Schott’s razzle-dazzle might blind you to the original.