Book Review: The Lone Wolf by Louis Joseph Vance (three stars)

Book Review: The Lone Wolf by Louis Joseph Vance (three stars)

“I’d like to believe you. But when you ask me to sign articles with that damned assassin—!” “You can’t play our game with clean hands.”

Entertaining, but not as Vance intended. Published in 1914, the stilted prose mimics the previous century. It’s an adventure/mystery/romance novel with an anti-hero protagonist. Anticipates the private detective novels of several decades later.

From its terrific speed the cab came to a stop within twice its length.

Set in Paris before the Great War, but Germans are already heavies. Anticipates international crime organizations too. Much of Vance’s description of automobile and aeroplane performance defies current knowledge, but is assumed to be cutting edge then. A fun read, especially for those who know a bit about The Great War.

And a secret between two is—a prolific breeder of platitudes!

Book Review: The Queen of Hearts by Wilkie Collins (three stars)

Book Review: The Queen of Hearts by Wilkie Collins (three stars)

‘It was impossible to reform the “Queen of Hearts,” and equally impossible not to love her. Such, in few words, was my fellow-guardian’s report of his experience of our handsome young ward.’ 

Published in 1859. Scheherazade without the interlocking stories. The framing story is simple and obvious. Interesting rather than enjoyable.

‘It is not wonderful that the public should rarely know how to estimate the vast service which is done to them by the production of a good book, seeing that they are, for the most part, utterly ignorant of the immense difficulty of writing even a bad one.’ 

Mostly mysteries, but a pleasant mix of female protagonists, humor, and surprise climaxes leaven thew nineteenth century English fare.

‘In the course of my wanderings I had learned to speak French as fluently as most Englishmen.’

Which, of course, means not at all. Like most Americans. Reflects the prejudices and mores of its time.

‘We most of us soon arrive at a knowledge of the extent of our strength, but we may pass a lifetime and be still ignorant of the extent of our weakness.’