Title: The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo
Author: Michael Butterworth
What it's about: Ernest Rowbotham is an unassuming Englishman who's just inherited six million dollars from his uncle. The one catch? He has to take his uncle's preserved corpse around Monte Carlo for a week in order to inherit. Well, this wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that if he messes up the terms of the will, the Universal Dog Home of Chicago gets the money instead, and to that end, they've sent a representative to Monte Carlo to keep an eye on Ernest. Oh, and did I mention that Ernest's Uncle Luigi was also a successful mafia boss back in Chicago? And that two separate groups of gangsters are after the inheritance? With all this going on, Ernest's in for the most unforgettable week of his life.
What I thought: Okay, well, first I have to admit a bias towards this book because my favorite musical ever, Lucky Stiff, is based on this book. It's a great story. The premise is so absurd, and events quickly take a turn for the weird(er). I don't want to spoil much, but there's a hysterical bit with a hooker and trains that's just great. The prose in general just has such a sense of atmosphere, too it. It's grand, very rich. And the characters really make this whole thing work. Ernest is a sympathetic fellow. The gangsters are quite distinctive in their mannerisms. And, well, this is just a greatly amusing book with a satisfying story. I loves it.
Overall: Read it. Now.