Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Danger at Westways

I've finished reading the Sexton Blake novel DANGER AT WESTWAYS.

Apparently it's a straight reprint from one of the many gazillion Blake stories that ran over the decades in the various boys' story papers such as the Union Jack, Detective Weekly, etc. And you can tell somehow. Some chapters seem to stretch on with absolutely no plot advancement, and then others suddenly change location and tone in order to suddenly speed the story up, as happens when a writer's clearly being paid by the word.

The basic plot is that Sexton Blake is called in by Scotland Yard to track down The Cipher (a cut-price Charles Auguston Milverton from a Sherlock Holmes story). He ends up in a mansion, along with half of Scotland Yard, some red herrings, oh and The Cipher himself, who is stealthily creeping about murdering anyone who says "I know who the Cipher really is! He's --" 

But the strange thing is, Sexton Blake himself is hardly in it! Two policemen deduce the Cipher's identity way before him (and are killed for their trouble) and all he does is walk about the mansion, occasionally darting quick questions at people in a commanding tone of voice... but not really making any deductions (although naturally after the Cipher is captured we find out that he knew more or less all along... yeah, right!).

It was an entertaining read but evidently from a lower point in the famously up-and-then-down-then-up-again Blake canon. Give me Sexton Blake, Tinker, their loyal hound Pedro and some crazed super-criminal any day of the week.

Rating: 5/10

(incidentally, I bought the hardback for a few quid; the paperback is going on Amazon for £48. It's really really not worth that much...)

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