Mil Millington is a very funny Brit.
Things is a novel about just exactly what the title indicates, with a few small twists involving the disappearance of the narrator’s boss and his subsequent discovery of multiple criminal conspiracies to which he, along with his sudden promotion, is now an accomplice.
Pel Dalton and his German girlfriend Ursula have two children and live in one of worst neighborhoods of their English university town. They fight about car keys. Pel becomes the new acting Computer Team Administration, Software Acquisition and Training Manager in the university Learning Center after the former CTASATM Terry Steven Russell quits unexpectedly. Meanwhile Pel and Ursula decide to get a new house, and they fight about that. Pel discovers that TSR was into some illegal stuff that he doesn’t fully understand but decides to just wing it. He and Ursula fight about her parents, about roofers and gutterers, about a (hilarious) skiing injury. Pel is in the paper in connection with the underhanded activities in which the university is involved. He fights with Ursula about cheating on her, which he has not done. It’s merely hypothetical, but she’s pissed anyway. Ursula almost gets them both killed. Pel gets in so deep with the intrigue at work he doesn’t know what to do. How will it all turn out?
Well, not very interestingly, to be honest. As a storyteller, Millington is so-so. What makes the novel entertaining isn’t the plot. It’s not even really the characters, either; Ursula, for example, is a one-stringed guitar that plays only a series of shrill, screeching notes. Pel has about as much depth as, well . . . a comedian doing a stand-up act. What holds the story together is a serious of hilarious conversations between the two psychopaths at the fore, and between Pel and the other normal to semi-normal characters in the story. The best way I can describe the style of nonstop quirky humor is to call it literary stand-up comedy. It reads like a routine that uses a thin storyline just to give it structure. In other words, it doesn’t matter to the joke that there’s a horse walking into a bar. It’s what the bartender asks it that makes you want to hear it.
Don’t read Things for a great story involving mystery and intrigue. You’ll be disappointed. Read it because you never thought you’d laugh out loud at something you read and you want to prove yourself wrong.