Monday, 1 March 2010

E Squared by Matt Beaumont

I’ve decided to post on a sequel because, frankly, it’s too good to pass up. And also because it gives me an excuse to read a few more Flashman novels for the purposes of 120 Units...

Picking up almost a decade later from e, E Squared is basically more of the same, only this time the format has been expanded to include text messages, blogs, MSN, etcetra along with e-mails to tell the story. The remains of the cast from e are employed at Meercat360, an agency so cutting edge it employs a hairdresser. That said, Brett and Vince are still in the pay of Miller Shanks, although they have found themselves posted to their Dubai Office:

When we joined, we got the standard Miller Shanks letter about the need to show ‘cultural sensitivity’. Vince reckons that cuts both ways and when the Dubai police start showing sensitivity towards his need to throw up outside the Grand Hyatt after half a dozen banana daiquiris, he’ll return the favour.

Needless to say, things quickly go downhill:

Vince and I are lying low today. Bit of a kerfuffle last night. You know that complex of artificial islands they’re building in the shape of the world? Vince got a bit ADHD on whisky sours and emptied a very large dumper truck of rocks into the sea. Now the toe of Italy is sporting an outcrop that looks like a severely inflamed bunion. I’ve Google-Earthed it and you can see it from space. Dubai’s Finest are out in force.

Meanwhile back in London, Liam O’Keefe is flogging off the office fixtures and fittings on e-bay to settle his astronomical gambling debts, the creative assistant is on the window ledge threatening to jump, another member of staff is in Guantánamo Bay and director David Crutton’s son has gone AWOL while his teenaged daughter is in hospital with an infected tattoo... Things are looking ugly:

No calls or disturbances from anyone, including you. Except get me a bottle of vodka from the special cupboard. Then no disturbances.

It requires a little perspective. Over in France, Simon Horne, formerly of Miller Shanks, is now living in the Dordogne being abused (verbally and otherwise) by his disgusting housekeeper Papin. He has however, started a blog, Crépuscle dans le Périgord, where he keeps note of all the little things that happen to him, like a letter from his wife’s lawyers:

After such a start to the day, there is only one thing for it, I’m going to have to uncork the ’59 Armagnac. I shall post later with an update.

That said, compared to an office full of suicidal staff and an operation to catch the office thief using interrogation by Serbian paramilitaries, Hornblower’s tribulations in France are a walk in the park.

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