If you have not heard of Discworld (36 published novels (plus or minus) as of 2008), you are missing something. In Making Money - humorous fiction reminiscent of Douglas Adams or Monty Python - Moist von Lipwig, a reformed confidence man, jumps from his success as Postmaster General reforming the Central Post Office to be chairman of the Royal Mint of Ankh-Moorpork. Well, not actually chairman. The chairman is Mr. Fusspot, a small dog that carries in its mouth something that's definitely not an old rubber bone, but rather something that escaped from a "museum of inventive erotica." Mr. Fusspot owns 51% of the stock and Moist is just the guardian.
This is how Adora Belle Dearheart, LipWig's fiancee sums it up: "So ... a mad old lady - all right, a very astute mad old lady - died and gave you her dog, which sort of wears this bank on its collar, and you've told everyone that gold is worth less than potatoes, and you broke a dastardly criminal out of your actual death row, he's in the cellar designing "bank notes" for you, you've upset the nastiest family in the city, people are queuing to join the bank because you make them laugh ... what am I missing?"
She missed the the Golem Trust and the 4,000 golems she recent excavated, the Department of Postmortem Communications at the Unseen University, Commander Vimes and the Watch peopled by werewolves and trolls, and the economic model of Anhk-Moorpork built of glass tubes and water.
The smartest character in the book is a mad scientist's (an Economist in this case) assistant, an Igor who speaks with the traditional lisp, unless he gets excited and forgets.
"You're putting lightning right into his head!" said Moist. "That's barbaric!"If you missed the Discworld novels and you're not a barbarian, this is as good a place to start as any.
"No, thur. Barbarianth don't have the capabilitieth," said Igor smoothly.