I just finished Christopher Buckley’s latest book, Florence of Arabia. It’s much like his earlier Washington books: wonderfully sharp in the details, with great characters and some very funny bits; then about 2/3 through the book, things spin out of control– the characters end up getting their lives turned upside down, and the book itself threatens to crash through the guardrail (how’s that for a metaphor).

In a couple of his earlier books, things go off the rails during court cases that go on for too long; eventually Buckley has to invoke some deux ex machina (conveniently available in the form of the more shadowy, cloak-and-dagger elements of our federal government) to straighten things out. But it worked well enough for the Greeks (the classics live!), and I’m sure there’s some subversive criticism of the national security state worked in there.

Anyway, Florence of Arabia is pleasant enough fare, and a decent warm-up to the next Terry Pratchett, which should be out soon.