By Paddy Bostock
Suspense/Thriller, 478 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
Ravaged by sun, mosquitoes and his partner Claudia’s extended family while on a summer holiday to seaside Italy, PI Jake Flintlock is keen—despite having been asked to stay to solve a local murder—to return to London for good. But then, after a second murder, he and his PI associate Bum Park are made an offer they can’t refuse and once in Rome, discover a whole new meaning to the words la famiglia
But even on the open road, the ride was far from smooth given the absence of rear springs and the smell of first searing rubber, and then sparks flying from the stripped metal of the wheel beneath us. Bum became very tetchy.
Bum was piqued at the lost opportunity to help a hippy nun rediscover her sexuality, but the sight of a load of blokes striding towards us in blue-and-yellow striped knickerbockers wielding pikestaffs changed his mind smartish. Bum had never seen mediaeval people.
“Wh-who the f-fuck are those guys?” he ululated.
“The Swiss,” I said.
“I thought Swiss dressed in leather pants, milked cows, and were, like, peaceful. These guys look like clowns wid a bad attitude. An’ also wid lances? Boy, oh boy,” he said, donning his undertaker outfit and leaping out through the tailgate.
“Next thing I hear we gonna be lion food too,” he shouted back at me from the pavement. “Whut kinda damn country is this?”
“Italy,” I said, as I joined him and pulled the top-hat veil over my face. “Run!”
And that’s what we did, leaving poor old Massimo all alone to fight his own battles with the police, the Schwizzers, and the rabid crowd of tourists and Christians. It wasn’t until we hit the Piazza Venezia that we stopped to draw breath and ask directions to the Spanish Steps.
~ * ~
Not that our panic was strictly necessary. It wasn’t until long after the case was over and I was back home ensconced in my TV chair watching Liverpool unaccountably losing 2-0 to AS Roma at half time in a European qualifier that the truth hit home.
“Bugger,” I was moaning as the adverts came on and I was levering myself up to go in search of another can of hope-inspiring Carlsberg. But, in mid-lever, I was stopped in my tracks as the screen filled with the exact scene we had so hurriedly vacated all those months ago. Cleverly spliced, edited, digitally enhanced, reduced to only thirty seconds, but was this a déjà vu or was this a déjà vu?
“Bloody hell,” I said collapsing back in my chair and gawping as two blokes dressed as undertakers are seen leaping from a hearse and doing a runner downtown from the Colosseum as a load of Swiss Guards, cops, tourists and sexy-looking Christians gaze in awe at their retreating figures while licking at monster chocolate and vanilla ice creams with cherries on the top.
I was still gawping as the action was replaced by a close-up of the ice cream and a smarmy voice-over saying: “The new Cornetto from Walls. To die for!”
“Nnnngg?” I said, the logic not stacking up. And not only the gobbledigook of the grab-phrase. The illogic of the whole damn thing. We’d been outside the Colosseum by accident, hadn’t we? So how come...?
I still don’t know the answer to this conundrum. Maybe the crew had been intending to film an advert for anti-papal condoms when we just happened along and then postmodernly rearranged the shoot according to contingent circumstances. Who knew?