This is the second novel in Burgess’s Malayan trilogy and it follows on directly from Time for a Tiger. It is funny and clever and the characters are entertaining, even if each clearly stands for a type, or a caricature.

The plot concerns the absurdities and faintly menacing oddities of the twilight of colonialism in Malaya. I was wondering how the book would be received today. I suspect some would object to its differentiation of racial groups, often to comic effect. But it is not discriminating in its sardonic observation and all races are equally mocked, gently and by implication, for the most part. Those notionally holding the power, the British ex-patriates, are mocked most of all, since they are the mirror image of the intended readership.

A colourful book, well paced and very nicely written.