Barry Fantoni

As it turns out, Barry Fantoni wasn't quite the person I thought he was. I did, however, have part of it right. As a cartoonist (tick) he was responsible for Private Eye's obituary poet EJ Thribb rather than The Lone Groover in Melody Maker (that, as it turns out, was Tony Benyon). Fantoni, on the other hand, isn't just a cartoonist who's hung up his pencils and retired to a like of writing crime fiction in Clais (of all places).

Expelled from Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts where he'd formed an art school jazz band, film society and  drama group, Fantoni spent some time on the road before ending up on the editorial staff at Private Eye and presenting a TV show exploring trends in the arts (A Whole Scene Going). Occasional gigs teaching at the Croydon College of Art, as a jazz musician, script writer (That Was the Week that Was, among others), art critic for The Times, cartoonist and playwright have kept him occupied since the mid-sixties.

Harry Lipkin P.I..jpgRead:

  • Harry Lipkin, P.I. The World's Oldest Detective (2012), where the 87-year-old sleuth isn’t me, but he’s seen what I’ve seen, he knows what I know and keeps his pistol next to his dentures on the bedside table. Called to a wealthy Florida widow’s home to track down her stolen jewellery, Harry’s client, Mrs.Weinberger (Doris Day, but with dark hair), is almost as old as he is, and although the staff surrounds her in her mansion are well-paid they have to be the obvious suspects. The investigation develops into a quirky little exersise in P.I. procedural punctuated by pauses for lemon tea and kosher food and issues with broken roof tiles that kill youthful thugs who slam doors too loudly. An intriguing read that I enjoyed thoroughly, though I doubt I'll be shelling out the readies for any further titles. Very much one to borrow rather than buy, but highly recommended nonetheless.
© Ian Hughes 2012