$panish Fly

Written by Will Ferguson
Review by Ann Lyon

$panish Fly (the dollar sign indicates the main characters’ preoccupation) is set in 1939, in the ‘dustbowl’ of the south-eastern United States, memorably portrayed in fiction by John Steinbeck. Jack McGreary joins a pair known only as Virgil and Miss Rose in a journey around the small towns of the area in a Nash Ambassador sedan. Their plan is a simple one, to gain as much money as possible from the hapless inhabitants by a series of confidence tricks and then get out of town fast before they are rumbled.

$panish Fly is billed as a comedy, but perhaps it is a limitation of my sense of humour that I just did not find it funny (but then, I do not find Blackadder or Monty Python funny, and much as I liked the James Herriot books, I read them at a ‘serious’ level). The various scams are ingenious, and carefully described, and the author certainly has a gift for invoking the atmosphere of a place in the grip of poverty and despair.