Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Quantum of Tweed

British writer Conn Iggulden is known for his historical mysteries. He took a break perhaps, with this one released in the Kindle Singles format. This novella is a send up of James Bond type of spy stories. A 'light' story, tightly plotted, fast paced to suit the genre and format, The Quantum of Tweed features the exploits of a super spy -- (in)appropriately named, Albert Rossi -- who is everything a James Bond is not. Although tagged '00' by a mysterious voice over telephone and licensed to kill, Albert manages to keep the license fresh, and yet strikes havoc and gold and eventually gets away rich. Even as he plans and tries to assassinate the adversaries, they get eliminated without his 'service', first by happenstance, then by coincidence and finally by enemy action (remember Goldfinger?).

The book is not exactly hilarious and no single line is LOL type funny, but throughout its short span (took my slow reading self, less than an hour to complete) holds your smile and attention in place. There are no 'Bond girls', no BMWs (but our man has a Nissan Micra), no gadgets or Walther PPKs (our man favors a Colt), but the plot has enough twists and action. As expected, there aren't any character development or sub-plots, or for that matter an intricate main plot. But it doesn't get as nonsensical and absurd as the 'detective story' from the Nonsense Novels of Stephen Leacock either. This is a story that mocks at spy thrillers and mafioso don-corleone-ish stuff in a stiff upper lip Brit way.

A quick and thrill read that leaves you stirred but not shaken.