cover image The Sound of Trumpets

The Sound of Trumpets

John Clifford Mortimer. Viking Books, $23.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87861-1

Simply because England's political tides have turned from Tory Thatcherism to Blairite New Labour does not mean that Mortimer's Machiavellian Leslie Titmuss will be any less entertainingly scheming than in Paradise Postponed or Titmuss Regained. Although Titmuss has retired from Whitehall to write his dreaded tell-all memoirs, he takes a keen interest in Terry Flitton, Labour's candidate for the newly open parliamentary seat for the districts of Hartscombe and Worsfield South. Titmuss sees in Flitton an instrument of revenge against the party that betrayed his beloved Iron Lady, while Flitton, to his dismay, realizes that Titmuss possesses the killer political instincts that he lacks and needs. Mortimer, though a Labour voter, is a bipartisan satirist, skewering with equal enthusiasm both parties' rhetoric and campaign tactics. Flitton's farcical, accidental enlistment in the B-list local fox hunt not only provides a hilarious chase sequence, but also slyly dislodges conservative and contemporary mores. Flitton, however, should not be mistaken for a Blairite politician. It is precisely his old-fashioned ideals that are at odds with his success at the polls, his tenure in the new government and his downfall when Titmuss claims his Mephistophelian fee. At once lighthearted and cold-blooded, The Sound of Trumpets amusingly completes Mortimer's trilogy on modern Britain's rocky, convoluted political landscape. (Feb.) FYI: Viking will issue repackaged editions of Paradise Postponed and Titmuss Regained in January.