Wheels of Anarchy by Max Pemberton by Paul R Spiring and Hugh Cooke
|Wheels of Anarchy by Max Pemberton by Paul R Spiring and Hugh Cooke
|Category: Historical Fiction
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie
|Summary: A book covering great chunks of Europe in the traditional story-telling fashion of around a century ago. With a complex plot and a terrific command of the English language the hero of the hour is very much gung-ho involved in global terrorism which resonates with us today.
|Date: December 2010
|Publisher: MX Publishing
This mystery-adventure book was written and published around 100 years ago. Will it stand the test of time? The back cover blurb says confidently that this adventure story ... makes James Bond look like a stay at home ... Before you get into the story proper there's quite a lot of information in the introductory pages. Some of it I did find interesting (the page about Max Pemberton and Sherlock Holmes for instance) but some readers may feel a little bogged down before they've even started to read chapter one. Both Pemberton and Holmes belonged to a small, elite criminology society in London. I got the impression that the two co-compilers felt as if they had to justify themselves somehow. I ploughed on ...
The hero is a young man called Bruce Ingersoll. Apparently he is a man that a mother dreams her daughter might bring home. Strong praise indeed. I was keen to find out more about Bruce. The language used throughout is of its time, as you'd expect. So we have such phrases as Merry little Una being one of the best little women. And yes, perhaps it does sound patronising, twee, and out-of-date but back in 1908 it was the norm with many authors. And I'd like to say at this point that after reading mostly modern fiction written by modern authors, it's refreshing to step back in time, as it were.
We find Bruce down on his luck - but not for long. Fresh out of Cambridge with his degree but with mounting family bills and a sorry domestic situation he needs to find a job - and soon. Out of the blue, a very well-known industrialist makes contact with Bruce and offers him a dream job, as his private secretary. Bruce is not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so takes the job immediately (he'll ask any questions at a later date when he's got his feet under the table - or should that be desk). And yes, I did find Bruce to be likeable, as well as being resourceful, intelligent and polite. What's not to like?
And (as this is a rip-roaring yarn) on day one of his new employment, the action begins at a breathless pace. We see Bruce travelling to various parts of Europe, either with or without his employer on various secret 'duties.' He carries out his tasks to the letter - he's being paid handsomely, after all. We also find out a little more about the secretive employer, Jehan Cavanagh. He may be ultra-rich with money to burn, but he's far from being happy and contented with life. He seems to be forever looking over his shoulder. Why? Pemberton tells us in his own good time.
I kept changing my mind about this book. One minute I was really enjoying it and the next, well, it seemed to sag and even be rather dull. Some parts are very good in their narrative scope but other parts I found to be less than average. And yes, I have allowed for the archaic language. I really think is a story of its time and no, it doesn't really time-travel well. After all the hype and build-up by the co-compilers, the book did not live up to expectations, I'm afraid.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might enjoy A Study in Crimson by Molly Carr.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Wheels of Anarchy by Max Pemberton by Paul R Spiring and Hugh Cooke at Amazon.com.
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