Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker living a quiet and comfortable existence until an attractive and dashing lady fails to return for her repaired watch. Tantamoq goes to her house in time to see her taken away and discovers a plot involving unscrupulous commercial and scientific interests after the formula for eternal youth.

There’s nothing terribly original in this book: a bachelor who finds a taste for adventure, the congenial small town atmosphere, animals as main characters, the fountain of youth and of course the pairing of the unscrupulous scientist and the power-mad businesswoman.

Having said that, the book stays afloat nicely on the characterisation of the principals, each quirky but reassuring, the high-class atmosphere of friendship and, albeit in a fairly small way, the plot. With one particular exception, everyone’s pretty much what they seem, and the technique of employing animals as main characters has the effect of allowing a certain simplification of adult life while letting the author indulge in a little humour.

Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London.  He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.