It begins well enough with a possible attempted murder at a garden centre before moving into the main plot. This involves a revolutionary invention (a device for transmitting electricity wirelessly to electric vehicles), its inventor, a mysterious government department and PANCC, a sinister international organisation headed up by an equally sinister foreign bloke.
So far: so James Bond. However, The Office of Minor Archives and Arbitration (known to its friends as “The Office”) is no MI5: in fact, intelligence, military or otherwise is notable only by its absence.
Despite an essentially traditionalist culture, The Office is not wholly divorced from the modern world. For example, they have a computer and have recently hired one of those new-fangled “persons of the female persuasion”. Actually Emma (the woman in question) is a bit of a stunner with her “pretty little hooter” and her “little leggy-pegs”.
The action moves from the Cotswolds to a National Service era military base in Scotland, as the chaps (and chapess) from The Office try to protect the inventor from PANCC agents long enough for him to demonstrate that his invention works. Then it’s back to the Cotswolds in time for a night at the opera and lunch at an Oxford college before heading off to the Indian Ocean for the final showdown and an opportunity to ogle “little Emma in her bikini”.
Despite occasional references to mobile phones and people-carriers, the characters, language and social attitudes belong firmly in a British 1950s B-movie. If you “guffaw” at jokes about the difficulty of getting good servants or your vocabulary is “jolly well” littered with words like “boffin”, “wallah”, “rozzers” or “amuse-geule”, then this book may be for you.