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The Lone Wolf by Louis Joseph Vance
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I was having trouble deciding what to read next and chose this book, out of all the ones in my e-book collection, using a random number generator. I couldn't even remember why I'd added it to my collection, but, now that I've finished it, I'm pretty sure it was one I downloaded after thoroughly enjoying Maurice Leblanc's The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar. Lanyard and Lupin had several similarities, and one character in Vance's book even said they were much alike. Unfortunately, Lanyard wasn't as enjoyable a character as Lupin.

Early on, I realized that this was not going to be an easy read for me. I had to reread certain sentences and paragraphs several times to try to figure out what they meant. My trouble with understanding portions of this book was, at least in part, due to my limited vocabulary. For example, I was very confused by Vance's frequent references to Apaches in Paris. When I finally looked the word up in the dictionary, I learned that “Apache” can mean “Parisian gangster.” Ah ha! However, it also seemed to me that some sentences were more confusingly/awkwardly constructed than they needed to be. Or perhaps I'm just too much of a modern reader.

Lanyard started off as a wonderful character, with lots of potential for depth and complexity. He was abandoned at Troyon's, a place where he was not loved and where he learned to only rely on himself. He was intelligent, had guts, and felt no shame in the thieving he did. He knew next to nothing about his past and was free to make himself into whoever he wanted to be. I thought perhaps that the story would focus on Lanyard's origins. After all, one of the member of the Pack was American, and Lanyard thought that he himself might have come from America before being left at Troyon's. Also, one of the members of the Pack bore a striking resemblance to Lanyard. I imagined a story in which Lanyard learned he was related to at least one of the members of the Pack and was faced with the decision to either join a family he'd secretly longed for but knew nothing about or cut all ties with them and continue being the Lone Wolf.

I don't know if any of the other books in Vance's Lone Wolf series explore Lanyard origins prior to ending up at Troyon's, but this one certainly didn't. The focus was entirely on Lanyard's attempts to evade the Pack, his budding feelings for Lucy, and his inner turmoil about who and what he was in comparison to the members of the Pack. This could have been even more fun than the book I was expecting, except Lanyard wasn't nearly as awesome as I think Vance wanted him to be.

Lanyard looked down on the Pack's members for being lesser criminals than himself, and yet he spent most of the book on the run from them. After years of supposedly succumbing neither to friendship nor love, he fell in love with Lucy for seemingly no reason beyond the fact that she was stereotypically feminine and the story called for it. This love caused him to do stupid things that would otherwise have been out of character, which set up a blindingly obvious plot twist.

All in all, this book was not nearly as good as I had hoped it would be, and I found myself skimming it near the end. The initial setup had promise, despite my difficulties with the writing, but Lanyard turned out to be a disappointment.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 28, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 142191154X, Paperback)

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:57 -0400)

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