The Very Last Gambado

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

What Lovejoy doesn’t know about antiques isn’t worth knowing. Indeed, he has an almost supernatural ability to discern the genuine article from the fake. This talent, when wedded to an encyclopedic knowledge of articles of the past, should make Lovejoy a rich and successful dealer in antiques. Unfortunately for his fortune, Lovejoy possesses a positive talent for mischief and a genius for making the wrong choice.

THE VERY LAST GAMBADO offers Lovejoy yet another chance to attain financial security. At first it seems like pocket change to the perpetually impoverished Lovejoy. He’s been hired as a consultant to a production company preparing a motion picture about a robbery in the British Museum. Within a space of time, however, Lovejoy becomes aware that the actors are simply a diversion for a theft. More important, Lovejoy realizes that the “score” is the Magna Carta--the fountainhead of the English Constitution.

Knowing and proving, however, are two different things, and preventing the theft is something else as well--most particularly, when Lovejoy finds himself accused of the murder of the king of antique fakers and a suspect in the disappearance of a fellow dealer.

Devotees of the Lovejoy saga are well aware that each work is an education in what is collectible, what is not, and how to tell the difference. Unfortunately, Jonathan Gash, the pseudonymous author who so successfully blends complex plots and obscure details, also has a careful ear for dialect. In consequence, the dialogue of the various Lovejoy works is occasionally incomprehensible to American readers. Yet this is only a minor caveat; Gash offers a veritable feast for those interested in collecting antiques and those who enjoy an elegantly crafted mystery.