The latest conclave of The Den(ver) of the Secret Nine July 13th produced only eight suspects, but we were glad to welcome Stan, a stalwart of Doctor Watson’s Neglected Patients, to our group. We discussed P.G. Wodehouse’s somewhat obscure novel, If I Were You, which garnered almost universal approval from the group.
If you’re not familiar with If I Were You, know that it’s a Wodehousean one-off, with I believe only a mention of the Drones Club to connect it to the larger world. It has been largely out-of-print, but a new Overlook Press edition made it possible for our group to discuss it. Although everyone enjoyed the story, newer member Mike thought it just missed that indefinable something that raises it to the first rank. (I looked on him with pity.) Original Mike confessed that he was disposed to laugh out loud at reading the story, although he did think Wodehouse captured the Cockney patois of Syd Price only as a Hollywood, overly broad stereotype. (Being from London, Mike is perhaps the only member of our group to be able to judge this.) Stan said the story reminded him of the plot of a 1930s movie, but in a good way, and Larry said he especially noticed the paranoia about socialism and communism in the book. Joice and I agreed that although the eventual outcome of the story was predictable, the story and prose were so delightful it didn’t encourage over examination.
We confirmed that our next meeting will be at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Pints Pub and we’ll discuss Mulliner Nights, the first time our group has tackled the very large Mulliner clan and the first time we’re reading a collection of short stories.
PS I erred when I asked my trivia question: What celebrated case mentioned in the story has a similar story where an heir appears late in life? The answer should have been the Tichborne Claimant, rather than the Droitwich Claimant. You see what I did there? I switched the fictional claimant with the actual claimant, abetted by the fact that apparently we had all forgotten the peer in question was named Lord Droitwich. We all called him Tony.
I was also incorrect in remembering that the resemblance between the missing Tichborne heir and the claimant was to be found in a birthmark. It was an altogether more delicate characteristic.