Murder will out

Wimbledon - it's not just for wombles
Henry Farr is an average man, a not-particularly-brilliant solicitor, middle-aged, married not-particularly-happily to the fearsome Elinor, with a none too bright daughter, Maisie, and living in a nondescript house in the suburb of Wimbledon. Life changes though when Farr decides to alter the course of his life by murdering his wife. Five murders later terror has swept through the area, but is Henry the murderer that he thinks he is?

Nigel Williams' The Wimbledon Poisoner, the first volume in his Wimbledon trilogy, is a very funny book, often laugh out loud funny. But...first published in 1990, it hasn't aged well. Although certain aspects of the novel remain as current as ever including much of the humour, the sexist, sometimes racist elements feel very clunky to a modern audience. I also don't think the book would travel well either. It's very "British", I don't mean that disparagingly, but many of the jokes revolve around a very British way of life that I think would be fairly incomprehensible to a non-British, or certainly never-lived-in-Britain person.

I guess that's part of the problem with humour. You'd like to think that it travels well, but it doesn't always. Certain truths and characters remain universal, and are universally loved, but others....

It's funny, but ultimately rather disappointing. I suspect that if I had read it in the '90s I would have found it a lot funnier than I do now. Unlike other satirists such as David Lodge and Tom Sharpe it's not aged or travelled well - funny, but ultimately, like a badly aged Scots whisky, best avoided.


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