The Lemon-Squash Continental Hotel
Larry Harrison, author
Guido Roberts, a young man in London in 1967, is fascinated by the libertine philosophy of Aleister Crowley, the notorious Victorian practitioner of the Black Arts. Crowley's use of hallucinogenic and mind-altering drugs like mescaline, hashish and heroin, make him a prophet, Guido believes, for the 20th century. Guido becomes entangled in a growing enthusiasm for the occult and for witchcraft, as young English feminists reclaim witchcraft as a form of female spirituality. Wanting to distance himself from a hostile witch coven, while at the same time anxious to evade a criminal gang, he persuades his father, a petty criminal known as 'the Major', to send him on a journey to the Far East. He accompanies the old man's girlfriend in a group travelling to the kingdom of Afghanistan, where his father claims they can buy fashionable goatskin coats, and arrange to export them to the West. Unfortunately, he is deceived by his father, and by his father's business associate, the 'Afghan Hound' Kamal Pasha, who is a guard at the British Museum. The Major and Kamal's real purpose is to conceal Afghan miniatures, stolen from the British Museum, in Guido's suitcase. The historic miniatures could then be sold by Kamal in their country of origin. Guido discovers the smuggled pictures in Iran, in time to bribe the local police, and avoid prosecution for suspected heroin possession. The Iranian police deport him to Afghanistan, where he survives an attempted murder by Kamal, before witnessing his father's friend being shot down in the street. Guido is then free to travel on to Pakistan, where he manages to sell several valuable miniatures. He then returns the remaining pictures to the British High Commission, so they can be given back to the British Museum. He is finally repatriated to London, a museum benefactor, he believes, and a British patriot, who has outsmarted his father.