Carpet Diem by Justin Lee Anderson book review

Douglas Adams meets Heart-Shaped Box in Carpet Diem

When slightly eccentric old relatives leave bizarre object d’art in their wills, often car-boot sales are an attractive option for the bewildered and usually ungrateful recipients.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for Simon Debovar, he rather liked the artefacts that Uncle Marvin had left behind after he and most of the Debovar family met their maker at the hands of an explosive flambé dessert.

Simon discovers that the very busy and colourful carpet that adorns his living room is of great value, not to the producers of the Antiques Roadshow or even Flog It, but the devil.

Simon’s carpet is the ultimate prize in a bet between God and Satan, and they have dispatched their angels and demons to retrieve it. Before he can decide which party is more deserving, the carpet is stolen and the rules state he must find it and declare a winner. Being somewhat of a hermit, this causes great distress to Simon as his solitary life gets turned upside down and his set bathing regime is completely ruined.

There are so many delightful surprises showcased within these addictive and extremely witty pages. Anderson has a flare for rather classic characterisation from Simon’s introvert insecurity to the potty-mouthed loudness of his alcohol-swilling Great Aunt Harriet (one of only three survivors of the Debovar dessert massacre), a double act that should go down in literary history.

There is something very Arthur Dent (though sadly sans his dressing gown and towel) about Simon. This very ordinary and unassuming man must do all he can to make the right choices for the good of the universe, but can he really be bothered?

Thankfully, there are a gaggle of otherworldly bods who are happy to interfere and keep him motivated, even if they do have their own personal agendas. No motivation is required to gobble up this book though, which is perfectly balanced in every way.