ALMOST THERE | ISSUE TWO
The world's most exciting accountant
Meet Nicky Mahoun, the bean-counter with a difference...
"Look Bud- I ain't never even seen those tax returns!"
It is in the grand scheme of things for accountants to be dull. Deadly dull. Let’s face it, anyone who gets turned on by absorption costing systems and accrued expense allowances is not designed by nature for a walk on the wild side. And at first glance Nicholas Mahoun, chief auditor at Engineering Industries Ltd, fits that mould to a tee. He likes nothing better than getting his teeth into a particularly complex attestation report, only taking time out to engage in a spot of office politics or to try and chat up one of the secretaries. But once he’s clocked off it’s a different story. As soon as darkness falls our intrepid book-keeper is out there, pounding the mean streets, lifting the lid on the seamier side of
life and taking on all the low-lifes that come crawling out- the thugs, pimps, blackmailers, con-men, racketeers, weasel-faced informers and drug-crazed femmes fatales, because Nicky Mahoun is that rarest of birds: the accountant-detective!
He is in fact the literary creation of Alexander Clark Smith, a chartered accountant himself, who wrote three thrillers featuring his unlikely sleuth in the 1950’s. Mahoun is an old school detective of the cynical, wise-cracking variety (at this point I was going to describe him as ‘a hard-bitten private dick,’ but you’d only titter) very much in the style of a Sam Spade or a Philip Marlowe. Sadly Clark Smith’s The Speaking Eye, The Deadly Reaper and The Case of Torches have been out of print for donkeys’ years, though you should still be able to pick up a second hand copy through those tax lovers Amazon. And while I’d hardly class any of them as a high octane thrill-ride, they’re not bad either, and worth tracking down if only for the novelty value. I mean, how often do you come across a truly exciting accountant?
By way of a post-script, I’d like to add that I’ve recently discovered that Nicky Mahoun is not the only accountant to be found risking his neck in the tough world of detective fiction. In the 1940’s American writer David Dodge (best known as the author of To Catch a Thief) wrote four thrillers featuring his San Francisco based tax adviser and P.I. ‘Whit’ Whitman. So there you have it- if you like your accountants hard-boiled, you’re spoilt for choice.