BABY it’s dreich outside, there is an election war raging, and the world in general is by common consensus heading to hell in a handcart. If ever there was a right time for a wickedly entertaining crime caper to come along it is now.

Among the many surprises in store in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a comic turn from Daniel Craig that bodes well for his life after 007. Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a consulting detective hired to look into the strange death of famous murder mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) at his country home. Consulting detectives, deaths in questionable circumstances, big houses where suspects are asked to gather in drawing rooms …writer-director Johnson and his cast have a ball with every cliche.

Thrombey was found dead by his housekeeper the day after his 85th birthday party. As his family is interviewed it becomes clear that no-one is quite as they seem and each is concealing a secret.

Also summoned for questioning is Thrombey’s nurse, Marta (played by Ana de Armas). An immigrant from Paraguay/Brazil/Uruguay – the family is never sure which one – Marta is a kind, hard-working young woman, a good soul fallen among the grasping rich.

Besides Craig, Plummer and de Armas, the terrific cast includes Toni Collette as Thrombey’s lifestyle guru daughter-in-law, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and Chris Evans as his daughter, son-on-law, and grandson, and Michael Shannon as the son who, like the rest of the family, lived off Thrombey’s talents rather than go to the bother of developing any of their own.

The director’s instruction to the cast seems to have amounted to the simple exhortation to have fun, which is exactly what all concerned do. Craig, adopting a southern drawl, turns in a performance so delightfully hammy it should come with a side order of eggs. Comedy as broad as this requires the lightest of touches, and everyone is up to the job.

This is especially evident when it comes to the politics of the piece. Knives Out might seem to belong in the gentler age of Agatha Christie, but make no mistake: this is Trump’s America, where the rich hold the power and set the rules. In one perfectly pitched scene, Don Johnson’s blowhard is banging on about good immigrants such as Marta, the ones who come in legally and pay their dues. While praising her skills as a nurse he hands her his dirty plate. Staff are staff, right, what does it matter what job they do?

As for whodunnit, and why, I shall say nothing for fear of spoiling the fun. Enjoy.