There is a certain gratification in watching an author write a character they have known and loved for a long time. Something about the inevitability of the character’s reactions to their surroundings, and the naturalism with which the author crafts both character and setting, that just sits nicely, satisfyingly, with the reader.
Such is the case with C.W. Lovatt’s 5th outing for his titular Charlie Smithers, a gentleman’s gentleman with a heart of gold, several, compounding conundrums, and a very strict deadline as he treks across a remote Scottish island in Charlie Smithers: Adventures in Arran.
Suspicious German diplomats are colluding with a home-grown rebel faction and it’s up to Charlie Smithers and two new allies (a theater make-up artist, and the local witch) to cross the Isle of Arran, foil the plot, stop Charlie’s bumbling Lord Brampton from dueling himself to death, and possibly save Britain from falling into complete chaos. Is this unlikely trio going to save the Empire, or has Charlie – whose always ready to admit that a Smithers is a good man, though rarely the smartest one – finally met his match?
Lovatt has been publishing Charlie Smithers novels since 2012, meaning that this year marks a decade of the author Smithering along, and all that practice shows. Even someone like me, who came to Charlie Smithers through the character’s brief appearance in another of Lovatt’s works (Dolly Pleasance, 2021), can easily fall in with the story, the characters, and the stakes, with only the context given in this text. Smithers’ adventures in previous novels have obviously shaped him, but they haven’t made him unapproachable to the new initiate, and Lovatt’s obvious affection for, and comfort with, the character is a big part of that approachability.
Rich in Scottish detail, and thick in local brogues, Charlie Smithers: Adventures in Arran is sure to delight old fans of Smithers’ escapades, and newcomers to Lovatt’s works alike.