My Bouchercon 2013 panels: Khrushchev visits a pub
"`The Old Spot's turned out to be a beauty. Are you going to have her put to the tup this month?'
"`I think you only call them tups if they're sheep.'
"Sasha thought about this as though it were some great revelation, startling to contemplate and worth hours of harmless fun. Troy sat in the driver's seat and reached for the door, but she put her hand across the top of the frame and emerged from reverie.
"`Oh, well ... are you going to get her fucked by a daddy pig then?'
"'Goodnight, Sasha.'"That's a neat, if foul-mouthed nod to a writer Lawton loves, an update of Angela, Lord Emsworth, and the Empress of Blandings for a brave, postwar world.
Troy's mission in this, the second of Lawton's Troy novels, is to guard and spy on Nikita Khrushchev on the Soviet leader's visit to England in 1956. Early on, Troy takes the disguised Khrushchev on a subway and pub crawl through London, and Lawton manages the considerable feat of making the scenes funny but not farcical. Along the way, he does what he's best at: He milks the scenes for pointed observations about English character and habits. My favorite bit among many:
"Khrushchev fished out a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, in which he usually, Troy had noticed, managed to avoid being photographed. He blinked at Troy through them. Troy weighed him up. Not only did he look English, he reminded Troy of those sturdy Londoners, packed with muscle after a lifetime in the docks, now running gently to seed on a diet of chips and beer."The man knows how to make historical fiction fun.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013