Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Blackmailer of Park Lane

Fiction ~ short story
First published in The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories, 1920
9,965 words
(First read 27/07/2014)

Very much in the same bracket as The Countess of Lowndes Square in that it's a tale of the blackmailer blackmailed.  Arthur Whately is a fifty-something self-made millionaire, and a bit of a reprobate on the QT.  Realizing one day that he's bored at having done and bought everything he ever wanted, he decides (like you do) to embark on a new career as a blackmailer.  For his first victim he chooses his 'friend' and neighbour Lord Peebles.  Unfortunately he doesn't know Lord P at all well, and E F Benson was feeling particularly bone-idle on this occasion, so he just assumes that if he writes to him saying "I know what you were doing between Aug. 2nd and Aug. 10th two years ago", Peebles will have been doing something to feel guilty about.  And so it turns out ... and the rest is, as they say, as much bunkum as this would lead you to expect.
An amazingly daft story ~ not 'fun', just 'daft'.  The tone is supposedly light but it's all told at such inordinate length (about twice the length of the average EFB story) that it feels like swimming through treacle.  I'm not saying it's bad: just that it's woefully over-long, not in the least bit funny, and pretty dull.
It's available online here.  Good luck.

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