RogerBW's Blog

The Avenger, E. Phillips Oppenheim 16 April 2021

1907 thud and blunder. Herbert Wrayson finds a young lady rifling the desk in his flat. It turns out that she was after the fellow upstairs. But later that man turns up murdered…

Wrayson, being half in love already, doesn't mention the lady's presence at the inquest. But that puts him potentially in the wrong if anyone else saw her, and it appears that someone did.

There's an awful lot of people not explaining things here, and alas it would make for a rather shorter book if they did. At least two factions want some papers the dead man had, not to mention his brother (Oppenheim is at great and repeated pains to let us know that both of these horrible people are Jewish, and all the good people dislike them on sight), and while the vaguely awake reader may instantly work out roughly what's going on, the details will still take some time to elucidate.

"My client is not actuated in any way by philanthropic motives," Mr. Bentham said coldly. "To tell you the truth, he does not care whether the murderer of Morris Barnes is brought to justice or not. He is only anxious to recover possession of the document of which I have spoken."

There is never any doubt about who's Good and who's Bad, and we don't even meet many of the Bad. There's something of an air of smugness about the business, even while the lady is telling Wrayson that she can never marry him (or anyone), and he's pressing his suit in a frankly overbearing way; and while there are three potential femmes fatales, because they're all on the side of Good there's barely any vamping from them.

The overall plot makes a certain sense, though I'm not entirely convinced by the reactions of those with inside knowledge. More surprising to me is that the action never really gets started; there's lots of drama and melodrama, but none of the physicality which is often an important part of a thriller, whether that's actual violence or just a car chase or an attempt to escape across rough country. (Buchan, who rather admired Oppenheim's writing, would do better – helped by not having to churn out two or three books a year for over half a century.)

I read this on a recommendation, though I can't now remember whose, and I have to say it's not outstanding. But there is quite a bit of pleasure to be had here, not to mention plot fragments worth stealing.

Freely available from Project Gutenberg.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life julie enfield kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana mecha men with beards museum music mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera parody perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1