Saturday, 26 March 2016


Courtesy of L.W.Currey

There is nothing at all I could find about the author of this book, apart from his real name apparently being "George Knight", Given no other information including date of birth or death, it seems rather difficult to find anything with certainty on such a common name.

The book itself is really a melodrama, taking place in Wyresdale, England. It originally appeared serialised in Weekly Mail in 1902 before it was published as # 105 of M.A.Donohue's Flashlight Detective Series. An odd choice to be sure, as overall the detective elements of the novel are somewhat incidental.

It is the story of a pair of lovers whom circumstances contrive to tear apart, but unlike most stories this one has two different sets of antagonists opposing the main characters, who intertwine and subsequently frustrate each other's attempts at revenge. There are about fifteen characters one has to take note of and memorise their particular mutual sympathies and antipathies, including two romantic couples at once, because the more the merrier I assume. Of course there is a fantastically rich, villainous dwarf who wishes to obtain the hand of the female lead, by any means necessary, as well as vile german scientists at his beck and call. The main character's uncle gets murdered and the village inspector constantly makes wrong assumptions and never even comes close to identifying the killer himself, though that may be because he has the hots for the local Chemist's pretty daughter, so much so he reveals classified information to her, pretty much without provocation. His romantic rival, the chemist's assistant, becomes more usefull then the policeman or the main character, by revealing the sinister plottings of the Golden Dwarf, the fantastically rich diminutive person already mentioned.

This discovery, coming in a little too late in the novel, is also the most intriguing part of the whole book. The Golden Dwarf is apparently conducting inhuman experiments to turn children into giants and dwarfs...and yet this utterly horifying aspect of the story gets ignored for three quarters of it's running time in favour of conspiracies relating to paid false testimony and secret messages engraved on riding whips, and even then it takes up only a few pages at most until we're forced into a dramatic climax involving landmines. It's a pity because that was why I read it in the first place.

The main characters are also not much horrified by the inhuman abominations they find, and even the inspector himself has, apparently, no idea with what to charge those responsible. Now, I know Britain in 1902 wasn't paradise on Earth but even I think child abduction and inhuman experimentation on children would probably have landed you in the brig even back then.

Of course the inspector would also probably land behind bars as he let the disfigured children stay locked in their cells and him never thinking to move them results in all of them dying when the laboratory blows up.

The only interesting part of the novel, aside from the aforementioned ungodly experimentation, is that not only do two people who abducted the main character's cousin get away scott free, but so does one of the Germans who was directly involved with the child experiments, as well as being an accessory to the murder of poor Sir Christopher Derring, who never even shows up in the book alive, and whose murder the inspector pinned on half the people in the village.

Overall, not even close to what I was hoping it to be.

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