Mike Beversluis

Monday, January 08, 2007

Some Danger Involved


I spent the last two evenings sitting around home, nursing a drink, and reading. Last night I read Some Danger Involved, which gets two-thumbs up.


From Publishers Weekly
Modeled after the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but with a verve all its own, this debut mystery introduces a likable pair of sleuths and explores the Jewish quarter of Victorian London. Fresh, self-effacing Thomas Llewelyn is a plucky lad down on his luck (he was booted out of Oxford and served eight months in prison for petty theft) when he becomes the unlikely assistant to idiosyncratic Cyrus Barker, a patently Holmesian private detective with an enigmatic background in China. Hardly has Llewelyn settled into his new quarters in his employer's residence when he is called upon to assist Barker in an investigation of the crucifixion death of a young Jewish scholar. The convoluted tale leads through the tightly circumscribed Jewish ghetto, as it appears that the murder may be the overture to a pogrom by vicious anti-Semitic factions. Barker's methods ("You see, I try to throw a web over London and sit like a spider in the midst of it all, my fingers on the strands") and Thomas's tone (" 'I must admit, sir,' I confessed, 'that I doubted you a little' ") may owe much to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the author's lively, learned tour of the various foreign enclaves of 19th-century London is notably contemporary. Besides initiating Llewelyn into the rigors of detective work, Barker introduces his young associate to a number of exotic cuisines, Chinese and Italian among them. Such period curiosities and the growing friendship between Llewelyn and Barker are the chief delights of this engaging novel.
I thought Barker and Llewelyn were a little too modern in their sensibilities, but still, good fun all around.

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