Murdering Americans: Tangled Web review
Another delightful satire by the author of a string of novels, each using the mystery genre to carry her outrageously iconoclastic themes. In this book, she assaults ‘political correctness’ in a big way, specifically that as inflicted upon the American educational system, but with plenty of digs and parallels with Britain.
As usual, her heroine is Baroness ‘Jack’ Troutbeck, the eccentric and forthright Mistress of a Cambridge college, who is bi-sexual, cigar- smoking and whose constant companion is her foul-mouthed parrot. Dame Troutbeck is offered a ‘freebie’ semester as a Visiting Professor in a small-town university in Indiana, who are under the misapprehension that she is a radical socialist like the majority of those ‘loonie-lefts’ who now run many American seats of so-called learning – to quote, ‘academia in the United States is now dominated by knee-jerk liberalism, contempt for Western civilisation and the institutionalisation of insane political correctness’.
She is soon as appalled by what is going on there, as the college grandees are at her blatantly-right-wing attitudes. The college administration has been hi-jacked by a woman Principal and her sinister enforcer, who have Freeman State University in an iron grip of radical, but avaricious liberals whom she suspects have murdered the previous sensible Provost. A subversive student group is attempting to protest at the regime which is denying them a proper education, in favour of ‘dumbing-down’, heavily censored teaching and positive discrimination carried to such extraordinary lengths that a young white male is looked upon as a pariah. The book is peppered with accounts of true examples of PC gone mad, such as the official who was sacked because he used the word ‘niggardly’ in a report!
Jack Troutbeck rallies the forces of dissent, even to the extent of toting a pistol; more deaths occur, but of course right triumphs in the end. Though a rumbustious and often farcical tale, there is no doubt that Ruth Dudley Edwards is using the story to grind a damned great axe and it is apparent that she views the rise of such PC as a real threat to both education and the Western way of life. The many quotes she slips in from learned philosophers on the subject shows that she has taken the issue very seriously and that it is more than just a cynical satire meant to entertain.
Praise for Killing the Emperors:
Having cut a swathe through the British establishment with her satirical novels, Dudley Edwards fixes her sights on American academia. Her protagonist, the outspoken rightwinger Baroness Troutbeck, accepts the post of distinguished visiting professor at an Indiana university, where she finds both staff and students ensnared in the sort of politically correct tangle that would turn the most knee-jerk liberal into a savage reactionary. Undaunted by the suspicious death of the provost, the baroness takes on the thought police with her customary aplomb. An entertaining, provocative read.
A taste of some of the flak David Cameron can expect from Right-wingers when he convenes the party conference at Blackpool next month. The Marquess of Salisbury gave a warm tribute to his friend, Ruth Dudley Edwards, at the launch of her latest whodunit novel, Murdering Americans, at the Policy Exchange last night but was less effusive about the Tory leaders. Robert Cranborne, a patrician Tory, dismissed the current “liberal regime” of David Cameron, and praised Lady Troutbeck, the heroine of the novel, for being a “peer of high Tory principles and pronounced Sapphic tendencies”. Cranborne did once famously compare himself to “an ill-trained spaniel”.