Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fivepenny Mystery (4)

I'm now on the final chapters of Fivepenny Mystery. This morning I woke up early and read a few pages about the exciting kidnapping of Penny. Although abduction is a serious crime, Jane Shaw manages to work a lot of humour into it. Penny, who in the earlier books began to tremble if anyone so much as asked her for directions, is now standing up for herself. Earlier in the book, she tells Jill to shut up when her sister makes one of her sarcastic comments, and now she is not intimidated by Brown Hand, whose real name turns out to be Pifillitapoulos, whom Penny nicknames Piffle. The following dialogue is an example of the new Penny and the humour in Chapter 11, When Greek Meets Greek.

"You are staying with me till Saturday. Or I am keeling Agamemnon. You are doing what I am telling you. Or I am keeling Agamemnon. You are not shouting for help. Or I am keeling Agamemnon. You are not running to the police. Or I am-"
"All right, all right," said Penny testily. All this talk about killing Agamemnon was getting on her nerves. "I get the idea. I'm not stupid like the Nisosians..."

Piffle locks Penny in Agamemnon's caravan and forces Agamemnon to drive. Penny, knowing that Stephen and Deborah will guess what has happened (as they inevitably do) decides to blaze a trail, chucking Agamemnon's personal belonings onto the road. This above illustration shows her throwing a frying pan out of the window. Instead of landing on the road, it sails into a peasant's house, causing a furious uproar. This scene is hilarious. Fivepenny Mystery is definitely one of the most tightly plotted of Jane Shaw's books and a masterpiece in every detail.