Frozen Assets by P.G. Wodehouse has the usual group of characters associated with this author’s works; chaps with hearts of gold but a tendency to punch policeman, pretty, clever girls who are there to be fallen in love with, rich godfathers, morally dubious tycoons, and of course, a Private Investigator or two. In Wodehouse’s familiar and distinctive slang, these characters are either cheery beans, misguided young cuckoos, or Dutch uncles and aunts, who are avoided in case they earbash the younger generation about How They Should be Living their Lives.
Frozen Assets starts with Jerry Shoesmith losing his wallet and keys in Paris. French bureaucracy is no laughing matter (!), so it is with enormous difficulty that Jerry is able to report his lost possessions to a policeman with a suet-like face, only for the policeman to reveal that Jerry’s things are in his drawer but that Jerry needs to return in three days time to collect them. This reveal was my first laugh out loud moment in the book.
On leaving the police station Jerry bumps into Kay Christopher, and falls instantly in love.
Unfortunately, Kay is already engaged to a cold fish, but Jerry is friendly with Kay’s brother Biff, who encourages him to have a crack at breaking up Kay’s engagement.
Biff has just learned that his godfather died and left him an enormous amount of money, which Biff is to inherit on his thirtieth birthday, so long as he doesn’t get arrested in between now and then. For most people this wouldn’t be an issue, but Biff’s main hobby is getting drunk and punching policeman. If Biff gets arrested, the loot goes to Lord Tilbury, who is already rich but who would like some more…
Kay and Jerry team up to try and keep Biff out of trouble, which leads to a ridiculously funny ‘trouser’ scene which has to be read for yourself. I think this scene would be even funnier in a movie.
While I enjoyed this story which was written and set in the 1960’s, I prefer Wodehouse’s stories with Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, Aunts and club members, rather than the later settings. Frozen Assets is a stand-alone story though and loads of fun.