Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart is one of those novels which is totally unclassifiable. Balthazar is a Beefeater who is asked out of the blue to become the keeper of a menagerie filled with animals given to the Queen by other countries. The various animals and birds are delivered to the Tower from London Zoo except somewhere along the line the penguins go missing and don't arrive and four giraffes appear which should have stayed at the zoo.
But it is not just the animals which are causing problems. There is the Rev Septimus Drew - the Tower chaplain - fighting a constant battle against rats who nibble his cassock when he's praying. He is suffering from unrequited love while he makes a career for himself as an erotic novelist. Balthazar himself is having problems with his wife as a result of the death of their son Milo. Hebe Jones works at London Underground's lost property office and the scenes set here are marvellously funny.
In amongst the fascinating characters there is a great deal about the history of the Tower, though it is never overdone. I haven't yet finished the book - about two thirds through at the moment - but it is so quirky and whimsical I had to put something on here about it. Love the cover as well.