So from that you can gather that Sharpe ain't family reading and there will never be Saturday morning cartoons based on his books (I sure hope not, anyway). What he is is no-holds-barred really good stories that keep one reading mainly because they ARE good stories and, to be honest, because part of one's brain is curious to see just how far he'll go (answer: damned! far). The only true series within Sharpe's novels are the Wilt books. Henry Wilt is a college instructor who dislikes his job, his wife, and (once he has some) his children, and yet at the same time clings to and defends 'em. He's a very strange man (well, heck, he's a Sharpe character) who actually is smarter than most of the people around him (a major reason for his dislikes) and a tendency to use his intelligence in ways he really shouldn't. Take the first novel, for instance ... pissed off at both his wife and at circumstances that led to a practical joke involving a blow-up sex doll being played on him, he gets the thing out of his system by enacting a drunken fantasy of doing away with his wife by elaborately "murdering" the doll. And then ends up accused of actually killing his wife thanks to evidence he left behind and being unable to prove that she actually did take off because she was angry with him. Knowing that Eva will turn up eventually, disproving the whole thing, he takes to amusing himself by playing headgames with the police during his interviews. After that things get (hilariously) strange ...
In the Mobile Murder Headquarters Wilt was learning. He sat opposite Inspector Flint whose face was registering increasing incredulity.
"Now, we'll just go over that again," said the Inspector, "You say that what those men saw down that hole was in actual fact an inflatable plastic doll with a vagina."
"The vagina is incidental," said Wilt, calling forth reserves of inconsequence.
"That's as maybe," said the Inspector. "Most dolls don't have them but ... all right, we'll let that pass. The point I'm trying to get at is that you're quite positive there isn't a real live human being down there."
"Positive," said Wilt, "and if there were it is doubtful if it would still be alive now."
The Inspector studied him unpleasantly. "I don't need you to point that out to me," he said. "If there was the faintest possibility of whatever it is down there being alive I wouldn't be sitting here, would I?"
"No," said Wilt.
"Right. So now, we come to the next point. How is it that what those men saw, they say a woman and you say a doll .... that this thing was wearing clothes, had hair and even more remarkably had its head bashed in and one hand stretched up in the air?"
"That was the way it fell," said Wilt. "I suppose the arm got caught up on the side and lifted up."
"And its head was bashed in?"
"Well, I did drop a lump of mud on it," Wilt admitted, "that would account for that."
"You dropped lump of mud on its head?"
"That's what I said," Wilt agreed.
"I know that's what you said. What I want to know is why you felt obliged to drop a lump of mud on the head of an inflatable doll that had, as far as I can gather, never done you any harm."
Wilt hesitated. That damned doll had done him a great deal of harm one way and another but this didn't seem an opportune moment to go into that. "I don't know really," he said finally, "I just thought it might help."
"Help ... I don't know. I just did it, that's all. I was drunk at the time."
"All right, we'll come back to that in a minute. There's still one question you haven't answered. If it was a doll, why was it wearing clothes?"
Wilt looked desperately round the caravan and met the eyes of the police stenographer. There was a look in them that didn't inspire confidence. Talk about lack of suspension of disbelief.
"You're not going to believe this, "Wilt said. The Inspector looked at him and lit a cigarette.
"As a matter of fact I had dressed it up," Wilt said, squirming with embarrassment.
"You had dressed it up?"
"Yes," said Wilt.
"And may one inquire what purpose you had in mind when you dressed it up?"
"I don't know exactly.|
The Inspector sighed significantly "Right. We go back to the beginning. We have a doll with a vagina which you dress up and bring down here in the dead of night and deposit at the bottom of a thirty-foot hole and drop lumps of mud on its head. Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes," said Wilt.
"You wouldn't prefer to save everyone concerned a lot of time and bother by admitting here and now that what is at present resting, hopefully at peace, under twenty tons of concrete at the bottom of that pile hole is the body of a murdered woman?"
"No," said Wilt, "I most definitely wouldn't."
Inspector Flint sighed again. "You know, we're going to get to the bottom of this thing," he said. "It may take time and it may take expense and God knows it's taking patience but when we do get down there--"
"You're going to find an inflatable doll," said Wilt.
"With a vagina?"
"With a vagina."
The Wilt books, in order, are:
The Wilt Alternative
Wilt on High
Wilt in Nowhere
The Wilt Inheritance (to be honest, I recommend skipping this final volume even though I've listed it ... it's one of the last few books that Sharpe wrote and while those all started well with the usual bizarre buildup of plotlines, when it came to resolution ... well, they read as if he'd been defanged, which is not how I like to remember an author who in his day could be depended on to leave a few rather twisted scars on one's brain)