William F. Deeck

JOYCE PORTER – Sour Cream With Everything. Jonathan Cape, UK, hardcover, 1966; Panther, UK, paperback, 1968. Charles Scribner’s Sons, US, hardcover, 1966.

   Unfortunately for Edmund (Eddie) Brown, named by his mother after Edmundo Ros, who Mrs Brown thought was Irish, he speaks fluent Russian, albeit of the prerevolutionary variety, and closely resembles a Russian that the British Board of Trade (and one wonders whether Tim Heald’s Simon Bognor is aware of this aspect of the Board of Trade) wants to smuggle out of the Soviet Union for 26 days. It is Eddie’s role, whether he likes it or not, and he emphatically doesn’t, being more than a bit of a coward, to replace the Russian during that time.

   Eddie is more than a bit of a failure, too, which he blames on the lack of an old school tie, and none too bright, except when it comes to survival — his own. After a period of training at a fake lunatic asylum, Eddie is sent into the Soviet Union in a pink Bentley in the company of an especially unpleasant virago.

   When Eddie thinks he has successfully completed his part of the mission, he finds that he has been known to be a British agent all along. His seeming willingness to commit murder saves him from arrest, however, since the real KGB agent wants Eddie to murder the agent’s wife.

   Joyce Porter has created two of the funniest characters in the mystery field in Chief Inspector Wilfrid Dover and the Hon. Constance Morrison-Burke. Eddie Brown, reluctant and inept spy, at least in this novel, is not in their class. But if you haven’t read Porter’s books featuring Dover and the Hon. Con, you may find how Eddie mucks things up quite amusing.

— Reprinted from CADS 21, August 1993. Email Geoff Bradley for subscription information.

      The Eddie Brown series —

1. Sour Cream with Everything (1966)
2. The Chinks in the Curtain (1967)

3. Neither a Candle Nor a Pitchfork (1969)
4. Only with a Bargepole (1971)