Fran comes back from holiday to discover that Manny has resigned and is now working next door at Goliath Books. Left to his own devices, Bernard has let things slip a little. He is living amid a pile of rubbish, rotting food and dead badgers. Fran wants to get Manny back in Black Books so he can clear up and make her tea, but the manager of Goliath has plans for Manny and no intention of letting him go.
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It's International Children's Book week in Black Books. Bernard and Manny reckon they can do better than the trash that children are offered these days, so decide to write their own kids' classic and retire, Rowling-rich. Fran is off on a hen weekend with her best friends from school so there's no way she can fall out with them. Or is there?
Manny's parents come to stay. They are a perfectly nice middle-aged couple with one or two slightly annoying habits. Bernard wants rid of them, preferably the day before yesterday. And Fran is rather grumpy about pretending to be Manny's girlfriend to corroborate Manny's letters home, in which his life's achievements have been somewhat exaggerated.
Manny puts a bet on the Grand National for Bernard, who claims not to be interested in gambling but immediately becomes completely addicted to it. Fran, looking for work, needs a short-term job to appear employable. Bernard hires her, putting her up against Manny in competition for sales person of the century to replenish his dwindling funds. All the while Bernard is losing more and more money and borrowing gambling funds from scarier and scarier people...
Manny is extremely proud of the travel writing festival that he has organised. He has invited the famously charming explorer Jason Hamilton to give a talk. Fran soon falls for his twinkling eyes and lavish hair, leaving a jealous Manny raging. Meanwhile, Bernard is more concerned about the rent charges he has to pay to his new neighbour. Rather than face a lengthy court case, he hires a professional assassin...
It's Friday night. Manny and Fran are determined to go out and do something for once. Bernard would rather stay at home, get drunk and ignore his friends. Manny insists they go to a party. But why? And anyway, who is the best dancer?