Things Less Noble
Michael Harrison


e-Book, 192 pp. (Tina Rhea #23)
ISBN 978-1-55497-473-3 $10.00

Author’s Note: It is of interest to note that, a week after the author had prepared the full synopsis of this story, a letter appeared in the correspondence columns of the London Sunday Times, signed by the Editor of Debrett’s Peerage, calling attention to the possible existence of claimants to the ancient baronetcy of Whichcote. During the writing of the story, the existence of claimants to two other titles—the Viscounty of Avondale and the Earldom of Milltown —has been fully reported in the Press. Fiction, despite the best intentions of the author, seems to be less able to serve as truth’s converse than as its complement. M. H.

When the bailiffs stripped his Chelsea house, Geoffrey Thorne, once a successful dramatist, was left with four empty walls. a typewriter and the desperate conviction that he could recoup his battered fortunes by writing just one more stage-hit. A tradesman, soliciting orders, mistook him for the butler of the house, and Geoffrey suddenly realised that he might gain a respite for his labours by continuing the deception. He "became" Hopell, butler to Lord Bloodworthy; it seemed a safe deception because the title had apparently died out and no claimant seemed likely to appear.

There is always a "but" in the best of ideas and this was no exception.

After Fleet Street began to hunt for the "mystery peer", blackmail, persecution and intrigue combined with a thwarted love-affair to upset the peace of mind he needed for completing his masterpiece. How Geoffrey did eventually foil his persecutors and have a happy ending thrust upon him is told with a whimsical brilliance. This is a light-hearted Michael Harrison, by turns gay, nostalgic and bitingly witty on contemporary themes. Things less Noble should prove to be his most popular novel to date.