I got this one because it came after A Touch of Daniel and I'd assumed it was a sequel. Well, it isn't, not really. While the Carter family has a sort of cameo appearance, this is a story about Mog, a petty criminal, who gets involved the running of a home for lunatics.
The story has a surreal feel to it - there was some of this in A Touch of Daniel, but this story is even less grounded in the real world. It's not just the "lunatics" who behave in a peculiar way, but the "normal" people too, and this isn't really a good thing.
The "asylum" is based in a private house (and then, later, another residential property which turns out to be next door to Uncle Mort and co) and has been established primarily to care for Oliver(? I can't remember if that's his name) who suffered some kind of trauma and has been declared insane. Oliver seems relatively normal, albeit with no wish to leave the asylum, although his fellow inmates are more conventionally loony.
The asylum is run by Oliver's father, who's wealthy, and there's some kind of plot being hatched by Oliver's elder brother and some local politicians to get the family money. The trouble is that the way everyone acts is so unreal that you can't really work out what's going on. I had the same trouble with this book as I tend to have with magic realism - I don't feel I've got any way to relate what's going on with the real world, and so it just feels like all bets are off as regards what will happen next.
I didn't find the book particularly funny - in fact, not funny at all, although I think it's meant to be. I got to within about 50 pages of the end, but to be honest I had taken so long that I couldn't be bothered to finish it.
I will try another Tinniswood, on the basis that the other books are going to be novels about Uncle Mort and co, but this was a real disappointment.
Gave up : 24-Jul-2011