The Merry Hippo (1963)


My review:

A genuinely amusing work, written with much humour and skill reminiscent of Waugh’s Black Mischief.  A delightfully ill-assorted group, both European and African, constituting the Royal Commission on Constitutional Changes in the Protectorate of Hapana, is sent to a post-imperial Africa rife with revolutionary movements and espionage, which may, via Soviet pigs, have something to do with the poisoning of a harmless and amusing old buffer, unless he was, as seems most likely, poisoned by mistake.  Some detection by the local Superintendent (like Stapleton, an amateur lepidopterist), but it is the cynical academic, a friend of Jacey’s, who solves a particularly mystifying and engrossing problem, and discovers a murderer who is both well-hidden and an anti-climax.  The clue of the medical instrument, though, is a triumph of misdirection.


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