A month or so ago, I read Caroline Minuscule by Andrew Taylor. I found myself completely delighted by his mooching, amoral, charming hero, William Dougal, as well as by the rest of it: the writing, the twisty plot, the villain, the girlfriend. I determined then and there to read more as soon as I could.
Waiting for the End of the World finds Dougal once again under the spell of the suave and wicked James Hanbury. Dougal and his large, practical, gay friend Malcolm discover… well, actually, the plot is a complete farrago, so never mind the plot summary. Just take my word for it: it’s worth the ride. It’s got British apocalyptic groups (hence the title of the book), drug-and arms-running out of a castle on the Welsh border, Americans who speak suspiciously unlike Americans, the CIA, a girl named Zelda, and archaic words for mushrooms, among other things. Dougal even gets to exercise his almost-forgotten study of paleography (on his own handwriting, yet.)
This second book in the Dougal series was perhaps slightly less marvelous than Caroline Minuscule, but it was still effortlessly and seriously great. I didn’t even care about the plot holes or the fuzziness of certain elements of the story. Dougal’s moral ambiguity — his certainty that if he didn’t do the right thing, he’d hate himself, but that the right thing always involved saving his own hide — was terrifically engaging. Malcolm was an inventive, looming sidekick. The writing was a pleasure: funny, dry, exciting. As for me, my library doesn’t have the next in the series (eeek!) so I will have to be resourceful in finding it!