In 2004, when he was MP for Henley and the prospect of becoming prime minister seemed the stuff of fiction, Boris Johnson wrote a comic political thriller called Seventy-Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors. It received mixed reviews, sold a healthy 46,000 copies and then slipped into obscurity.

Fifteen years later, as Mr Johnson moves into Downing Street, it is time to re-examine this curious novel, for it contains clues to the prime minister’s views on a range of subjects: Islam, America, terrorism and women. There are many women. They are, invariably, buxom.

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