Alias 'The Magpie'

Now, this is Something Fresh. We are an imposter -- that is, we are a slippery gentleman thief pretending to be a famous psychiatrist -- and our objective is a scarab, a Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty. What follows is a Wodehousian romp complete with dotty aristocrats, disguises, and wacky hijinks.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. The voice is engaging and the writing knows just how much to say and how much to leave out. The puzzles were just challenging enough, and the gating is effective. The characterisations are comedic just verging on cartoonish, without going into eye-roll territory. It's certainly not deep or thought-provoking in any way, but this damn-well near exactly what I come to IF hoping to find.

I will say that the "extras" seem a little less thoroughly thought-out than I'd like. We're able to abscond with more than just the scarab that is our main objective, but it doesn't seem to make much difference either way. Given who we are and what we're up to, this should either be a thing or it should not: either give us a decent clutch of valuables to unearth and an epilogue to reflect our varying levels of success, or don't give us anything at all that might distract from the quest for the jewelled scarab. As well, the bananas we find seem set up for some slippery slapstick, but I could never find a place to use them. Perhaps they're just red herrings, but proper red herrings are meant to divert attention, not to build up false expectations.

All that seems very minor in the face of how well the rest is done, though. It would make a pretty good breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausages, scones, clotted cream, assorted cheeses and jams, toast, English Breakfast tea with milk and sugar -- but oh noes the toast is cold. Given the distance between the kitchen and the dining room in a lot of these old mansions, the toast is always cold, anyway.