Jack Haldean must confront something he regards as shameful which happened during World War I when two men from his past converge on his present life. An apparent car crash and a dead body bring both his friends from the police – Superintendent Ashley and Inspector Bill Rackham into the story. Hidden treasure and a trip to the Middle East not to speak of an excursion into the use of various codes including Playfair produce some scenes reminiscent of Dorothy L Sayers’ ‘Have His Carcase.’
I enjoyed this mystery story with its frightening denouement in the desert. I found the background of the early days of flying made interesting reading. It made me realise how relatively safe and easy air travel is today. I like the characters in this series – Jack himself and his cousin Isabelle with her unconventional (unconventional for that era) attitudes to life and adventure.
If you like crime stories without too much violence and with plenty of adventure, where the villains are really villains and the heroes aren’t actually too perfect then this may be the series for you. The books can be read in any order and this is number four in the series.
on 28 July 2010
Dolores Gordon-Smith's latest Jack Haldean novel, A Hundred Thousand Dragons,runs true to form - i.e. an intriguing mystery meticulously unravelled (code-breaking buffs are well catered for), period detail smoothly woven into the narrative, and some fine description. In this last respect the hero's solitary flight over the Arabian desert and his landing near the 'rose-red city' of ancient Petra is especially well evoked, the writer creating a mood of uncannily still, brooding beauty. It is a mood that contrasts starkly with the sprightly banter of London's cocktail circuit which opens the novel and gets things off to a lively start. But landscape and social texture apart, being a Haldean adventure there is planty of gripping action, tension and surprise. Jack crosses swords with the formidable Durant Craig (likened to an Assyrian bull!) a sort of irascible, hirsute version of T.E. Lawrence;and becomes perilously embroiled in Turkish and German espionage where he is dogged by the loathsome Lothar Von Erlangan. Disturbing things happen in Arabia, as also in the cosier confines of rural Sussex or indeed in the darkened alleyways of the Tottenham Court Road. But despite the mounting fear and lurking violence Gordon-Smith tells her tale with panache and humour, and the hero's fans will not be disappointed.