The missing pieces in the life stories of Edward Feathers (also called Old Filth, for “Failed in London, Try Hong Kong”) and his archenemy, Terence Veneering, are provided by their contemporaries Dulcie Williams and Fred Fiscal-Smith, who find themselves attending the funeral of Sir Edward as the last survivors of a community of British expats from the postwar years in Hong Kong. Where Feathers started life blessed with good looks and good connections, Veneering (born Varenski) came by his luck more haphazardly—through self-invention, a protective mother, and benevolent patrons. Despite their divergent beginnings, the two have followed strikingly similar paths, both practicing commercial law in the Far East and both loving the same woman—Betty, Old Filth’s wife. By equally strange coincidence, Feathers and Veneering ended their days back in England, living next door to each other. Seen through the eyes of their former friends and colleagues, their history is patched together and fleshed out.
VERDICT What this final chapter in the Old Filth trilogy (OLD FILTH; THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT) lacks in originality, it makes up for in the pleasures of reacquaintance; for all who loved Gardam’s dear old eccentrics.
—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.