Thursday, April 16, 2015

Some Danger Involved

So far, my friend and coworker Shannon is 2/2 on her book recommendations for me.  We were chatting about finding a good historical mystery, and she told me to check out Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas.  As if I don't have enough books on my TBR list already (holding steady at 980 last count), I grabbed it off of the shelf and checked it out.

This is one of those books that I dragged out reading because I didn't want it to end.  When it ended, I'd have to go to the library to get the next one in the series.  Not that that's at all difficult, since I work there, but still.



Our wonderfully snarky (and proudly Welsh) narrator Thomas Llewelyn is at the end of his rope.  If he doesn't get a place as an assistant, it's the Thames for him.  Fortunately for him (and the reader, because if he jumped in, we'd have a very short book), he gets the position.  It is, to be sure, a bit out of the ordinary.  The posting did say "some danger involved."  But what has he got to lose?  Well, maybe his life, but isn't that a given when you're an assistant to one of the best enquiry agents in London?

Cyrus Barker certainly cuts an imposing figure.  He's big and burly and Scots and covered in scars.  Oh, and those ever-present tinted spectacles?  I hope, like our friend Thomas, you'd catch a hint from "big and burly" and simply not ask about them.  Barker is a fascinating enigma and a true Renaissance man.  Born in China, he speaks several languages, and introduces the rather sheltered (I suppose one would be having been born into poverty, packed off to Oxford University, married into poverty, and then packed off to Oxford Prison) Llewelyn to the diversity hiding in plain sight in London.

In this first volume, Barker and Llewelyn investigate the murder-by-crucifixion of a Jewish man who looked suspiciously like Jesus (well, I suppose it would be an artist's representation of Jesus, since they didn't exactly have cameras in the First Century).  Barker worries that whoever murdered the man, a student, is going to incite a pogrom.

From here, we go on a tense chase across London, into secret Zionist meetings, encounters with former professors, and the Sicilian mafia.  Amazingly, Thomas (the author Thomas) keeps everything balanced perfectly and unravels everything at the end.  Barker and his coterie of helpers are fascinating, from Mac the Jewish man-of-all-talents to Harm, the ferocious Pekingese who takes a toothy shine to Llewelyn.

Highly recommended.

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