Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

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Empty Hands

June 22, 2018

Robert Endicott, early in Arthur Stringer’s Empty Hands, compares his employee Shomer Grimshaw to a Diesel engine, efficient and emotionless, and wonders who would win out if Grimshaw had to deal with Endicott’s modern, spoiled daughter Claire. As a reader, you know what this signals: they will meet, and probably fall in love, and we’ll find out just how human Grimshaw can be. And I guess we do, but — and I suspect Stringer didn’t intend this — the answer is “not very.”

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The Girl Crusoes

June 1, 2018

I don’t know how I feel about The Girl Crusoes (by Mrs. Herbert Strang, a pseudonym for the same two guys who wrote as Mr. Herbert Strang). I love a good survival story, which I think means this isn’t one. Also I wish people writing about castaways wouldn’t populate their tropical islands; so often it just seems like an excuse to be super racist. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Peter Ruff and The Double Four

December 18, 2017

I’m not going to write about all my recent E. Phillips Oppenheim reads–I’ve read about twenty of his books over the past month and a half, and that’s too many. But the more I read, the better a handle I get on him, and I’m finding most of his short story characters really enjoyable.

The Double Four seems to have been published before Peter Ruff, but Peter Ruff comes first chronologically. (You can find the two volumes in one here. I thought it was going to be a third Peter Ruff book, and was disappointed.) Peter is a nice young master criminal who falls in love with a young woman without anything in particular to recommend her. He’s trying to settle into a dull, middle-class lifestyle (to correspond with hers) when the police catch up with him and he has to leave his identity behind and create a new one.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade with the Flying Corps/Captain Blood Day 2017

September 19, 2017

Look, I know it’s Captain Blood Day, and really I should be posting about a Sabatini book, but…I think Sabatini would mostly approve of Tom Slade, seeing as many of his heroes are also a) cripplingly honorable and b) super awkward. Anyway, Happy Captain Blood Day! May we all be as ready with a good comeback as Peter Blood.

Tom Slade with the Flying Corps is, honestly, kind of amazing. It’s not perfect, but it’s clever and unexpected: a mostly-successful experiment. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade, Motorcycle Dispatch Bearer

September 15, 2017

So, Tom Slade, Motorcycle Dispatch Bearer, is kind of great. It picks up some time after Tom Slade with the Boys Over There ends, and since we last saw him, Tom has become a motorcycle messenger.

There are no significant plot developments in this book–Tom is a very good dispatch bearer at the beginning and a very good dispatch bearer at the end–but it doesn’t need them. Instead we get some episodic adventures as Tom joins some of the fighting at the front lines, gets captured — sort of — along with a sniper, and races a ship to port on his motorcycle. He meets two old friends and impresses them both thoroughly, and one of his adventures is so genuinely tense that it was uncomfortable to read.

I feel like Percy Keese Fitzhugh was experimenting over the course of the WWI Tom Slade books, of which this is the last one. The first, Tom Slade with the Colors, is structured very much like the prewar books, and so is the second. But that one (Tom Slade on a Transport) end with a clear setup for the next book. And Tom Slade with the Boys Over There is self contained in a way none of the previous books have been. And then this one is, in a way, the most normal of them all — but that’s not normal for Fitzhugh, and I felt like there was an experimental quality to it.

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Tom Slade with the Boys Over There

September 14, 2017

Tom Slade with the Boys Over There has a highly inaccurate title. He is “Over There,” but there’s only one other boy: Archibald Archer, who he met in Tom Slade with the Colors.

I’ve been kind of hesitant to spoil the plots of these, but I guess it doesn’t matter, so: this book starts just after Tom and Archer escape a German POW camp, and follows them on their journey through German territory.  Unsurprisingly, his boy scout skills come in handy traveling through the Black Forest.

It’s hard to know what to write about these books if I don’t want to recount the plots in detail, and I don’t. This book is a lot more coherent than any of the others I’ve read, because it’s really just recounting one adventure, and that’s nice. But it also gives a lot of page time to Archer, who isn’t all that interesting, and doesn’t appreciate Tom in a way that satisfies me. Or maybe it’s just that Tom is less single-handedly brilliant here. Which probably makes for a better, more balanced book, but doesn’t satisfy my heart’s apparently endless need for Tom Slade a) being amazing and b) not realizing how amazing he is, c) being initially underrated by others, and d) finally being appreciated as he deserves.

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Tom Slade on a Transport

September 14, 2017

Tom Slade on a Transport feels like a do-over. Like, Tom Slade with the Colors was about Tom getting a job on a ship, and it was going to take him to Europe where he was presumably going to get more involved in the war. But then I guess Fitzhugh felt like he needed to get Tom back to Bridgeboro, for whatever reason.

In this book, Fitzhugh wastes no time in getting Tom on another ship, and one with a better mystery. One of the things I appreciate about Percy Keese Fitzhugh is that he does a really good job of adding emotional stakes to his mysteries. Here, it has the effect of changing Tom’s desire to fight from a patriotic one to an intensely personal one.

Anyway, this time Tom actually gets to Europe–and lands in grimmer circumstances than you really expect from a children’s book.