Confessions of a Knight Errant is a comedic, picaresque novel in the tradition of Don Quixote with a flamboyant cast of characters.
Dr. Gary Watson is the picaro, a radical environmentalist and wannabe novelist who has been accused of masterminding a computer hack that wiped out the files of a major publishing company. His Sancho Panza is Kharalombos, a fat, gluttonous Greek dancing teacher, who is wanted by the secret police for cavorting with the daughter of the Big Man of Egypt.
Self-preservation necessitates a hurried journey to the refuge of a girls’ camp in rural Texas. Then a body turns up nearby that is connected to Middle East antiquities, and they are on the run once more.
And now they’re going back. Right at the height of the Arab Spring unrest.
Gary and Kharalombos have their respective reasons for wanting to go back to Egypt. Gary is seeking the only existing draft of his only novel. He left it in his apartment when he previously left Cairo. It should still be there, right? Kharalombos is desperate to meet Nunu, his son from an assignation with the daughter of the Egyptian ruler. But when they arrive in Egypt, nothing goes as planned, and they end up hightailing it out of Egypt (again) in the company of Gudrun, a German woman who runs a girls’ camp in Schulenburg, Texas. They figure they can work there at camp and lay low for a while.
This is a zany, charming, insightful, and wildly entertaining ride! McCullough fills her tale with characters both tame and outrageous – from bratty campers and their well-to-do, equally high-maintenance moms, to the mysterious neighbor next door (just what are those boxes in his garage?), to an Irish couple working at camp who may or may not have ties with the IRA. And our hero faces one catastrophe after another. Some of them he brings on himself, as he can’t seem to keep from exaggerating his skills and abilities. Some of them are just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time. All are hilarious. And a dead body brings a police investigation to the camp – the last thing someone on Interpol’s most wanted list needs, and hardly in keeping with Gary’s desire to lay low!
The story makes me think a bit of Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events. But where Unfortunate Events finally made me give up in exasperation because those poor children kept falling into one terrible circumstance after another and I just couldn’t bear it anymore, I couldn’t put down Confessions of a Knight Errant. McCullough writes with such wit and wry humor that I kept reading to see what shenanigans they’d get up to next (and how they’d get out of them!).
This book may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was absolutely my shot of whiskey. Give it a read and see if it’s for you, too. Five stars for sheer outrageous entertainment!
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“This book may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was absolutely my shot of whiskey…Five stars for sheer outrageous entertainment!” Talk about the perfect pull quote & book rec! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much for sharing this fabulous review.