Geriatric Nazi hunter Alan Stoob moves from Twitter to bookshop shelves with Alan Stoob: Nazi Hunter. In her review, Emma Mitchell learns how to softly, softly catchy Nazi.
When @nazihunteralan first retweeted into my timeline I was reluctant to take a look. Most of my Twitter activity is about knitting, cakes and guinea pigs.
@nazihunteralan features a preponderance of tweets about weighted pants, mention of his wife Edame (named after a cheese from the Benelux countries) and reminiscences about a clandestine affair with Dragons’ Den doyenne Deborah Meaden. Alan is a 76-year-old hunting Nazis in and around Dunstable. He has intermittent erectile dysfunction and a passion for hot Ribena.
His tweets became a highlight of my timeline and often cheered a dreary Tuesday afternoon. ‘Experiencing shooting pains down the precinct.’ ‘People often ask me how to spot a Nazi. A Nazi uniform is a giveaway, as is a history of war crimes. Sometimes I just ask them. Alan.’ ‘ATTENTION ALL NAZIS: knock it off. Regards, Alan.’
Alan has quite the fanbase, from newsreader Corrie Corfield to Treasure Hunt-er Anneka Rice. Despite his busy hunting schedule and recurring issues with his underneaths, Alan finds time to tweet profusely with his female followers, especially Alison Moyet, demonstrating impressive time-management skills. Several months ago he hinted at the publication of his Nazi-hunting diary. Then he mentioned it 37 more times. We would learn the secrets of his craft and possibly even details of his Complan intake.
It was revealed on publication day that Alan is a fictional character created by journalist Saul Wordsworth. (I believe there may be a helpline for those affected by this issue.)
It transpires from the pages of Alan Stoob: Nazi Hunter that Bedfordshire is the motherlode for hunters. Large numbers of geriatric national socialists lurk in public houses and budget hotels across the county, from Flitwick to Leighton Buzzard. Alan is commissioned by Simon Weisenthal, the most famous Nazi-hunter ever to have lived, to lead the hunt for these war criminals. A mystery informant begins to provide tip offs and Alan combines a modicum of stealth hardware, some kosher snacks and the help of a 1980s pop star in his attempts to foil a Nazi plot.
Alan’s hunting path does not run smooth, however. Edame is adamant Alan should set aside his hunting trousers to spend a quiet retirement tending to floral borders and exploring the effects of Viagra. Stoob is caught on the horns of a dilemma: continue the search for his prey or enjoy the pleasures of the bedroom. He is aware that at least one of these choices will involve bratwurst.
I was rooting for Alan from the opening pages. He is beset by self-doubt and the disapproval of his family, as well as concerns about his middle-aged son who has yet to fly the Stoob nest, yet his commitment to ridding his county of the Nazi scourge remains unshaken.
Alan Stoob is reminiscent of a geriatric Adrian Mole. He has an air of tragedy and smell of underdog yet it’s impossible not to egg him on as the narrative progresses. Much of the time I found myself wishing he’d take a weekend break in Southwold eating fish and chips.
There are joyous moments of surrealism and some of the silliest names for baddies ever invented. This book contains the word ‘owly’ which brought happiness. Strong female characters admonish yet ultimately encourage Stoob. In a favourite scene Edame comes to his rescue toting a pistol, andmy laughing startled the dog several times. A comic hero of advanced years, Wordsworth’s creation is a rarity – a sort of elderly Bridget Jones, with bunions.
I make things, mostly out of silver, sometimes out of wool. I’m never too far from a bottle of PVA glue.