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Some Danger Involved: A Novel by Will Thomas
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Some Danger Involved: A Novel (edition 2005)

by Will Thomas

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5453118,389 (3.79)82
Member:EscritoraSarita
Title:Some Danger Involved: A Novel
Authors:Will Thomas
Info:Touchstone (2005), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:read in 2012, mystery, historical fiction, england

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Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas

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It's been a while when a book had a twist that completely caught me off guard. Now, either I wasn't paying that much of attention or it's simply quite a good twist. I'm thinking the latter since I think I was paying attention. ASSISTANT to prominent enquiry agent. Typing and shorthand required. Some danger involved in performance of duties. Salary commensurate with ability. 7 Craig’s Court. A step away from suicide, a young Welshman Thomas Llewelyn finds this advertisement in the ‘Situations Vacant’ column of The Times and decides to give the life another chance. What follows is a well written story with great characters. His new employer, Cyrus Barker, is one of a kind. I've read that the author partly based his character on Sir Richard Francis Burton. Barker has an unusual group of people working for him ('Chinese gardeners. Jewish butlers. Lazy clerks. Temperamental French cooks, and last but not least, downtrodden Welsh assistants.') and a crazy little Pekingese.

A young scholar is murdered then crucified and the prominent people from the Jewish community hire Barker to get to the bottom of this. The most important thing is to find out if this murder is an anti-Semitic act and a threat to the Jewish community as a whole or a crime towards one person. This happening in the middle of the refugee crisis (the Jews are arriving to England en masse running from the continent) doesn't help matters.

I don't think I can do the themes in this book justice. The most pronounced one is anti-Semitism. Some of these people blame the Jews for anything that comes to their mind. But worse, if you can call it that, are those who honestly believe them inferior. One can only feel impotent rage after reading some of the opinions on the subject. When one of them is asked about Christ, Barker and Llewelyn get this answer: “But what of Jesus, sir?” I blurted out. “Wasn’t he a Jew?” The fellow smiled condescendingly. “Not really, Mr., er, Llewelyn, was it? He was the ‘New Man.’ Can you picture him as a hook-nosed, kinky-haired, furtive little fellow? Of course not! He was a big, bluff carpenter, a robust leader of men, a man’s man. He was the perfect specimen of manhood, and in all ways we should aspire to be like him.' Fortunately, Barker is not a fool ('He wants to make Christ over in his likeness, not the other way round.')

It doesn't matter who the killer is (I must say that particular titbit caught me unprepared). The things young Llewelyn learns in the course of this investigation are well worth the reading. From eugenicists to the different types of rabbis to Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews to new and wonderful friends and so much more, no wonder he was occasionally overwhelmed a bit. One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking (there is another one but I won't get into it because it would be a spoiler) moments in the book was the funeral of the young man ('I thought he had no family.” “The fact that he had no family is why the crowd is so large,” Barker explained patiently. “It means that the entire community becomes his family. Also, the Jews have great respect for the teachers of their children.')

Even with this gloomy subject there is humour to be found ('The story goes that after Christ’s death, Joseph brought the holy relic, the rock upon which old Jacob lay his head, to England, where it now sits under the coronation chair. As proof of the transfer of grace, God sent King Arthur and his Round Table after the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.” “If so,” I said, with a smile, “then it never reached the English at all. Arthur was a Welshman at Tintagel. It’s the Welsh that are the chosen people, not this Anglo-Saxon lot.” “Ha!” I’d actually made Barker laugh.' or when they question the victim's colleague: 'We have close to four thousand students.” “Four thousand, you say?” I asked. “Yes, and sometimes, it feels as if they were all in my class.' and '...every one of these little monsters has a mother convinced he is the Messiah, and wouldn’t we please give him just a little bit more attention than that other boy, whom we all know is just a bit dull?' - for the record I know exactly how he feels).

To be honest, this book is not that original (at one point Barker says this about himself: 'You see, I try to throw a web over London and sit like a spider in the midst of it all, my fingers on the strands, ready for any subtle vibration.') but the way it tells a story is wonderful.
( )
  Irena. | Jan 28, 2016 |
Surprising at the end. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Sherlock Holmes lite, but appealing nonetheless. Barker is an enigmatic character. ( )
  c18913 | Jan 11, 2016 |
AUTHOR: Thomas, Will
TITLE: Some Danger Involved
DATE READ: 12/28/2015
RATING: 5/A
GENRE/PUB DATE/PUBLISHER/# OF PGS Historical Mystery/ 2004 /Touchstone / 288 pgs
SERIES/STAND-ALONE #1 Cyrus Barker
CHARACTERS AUTHOR: Cyrus Barker/Enquiry Agent Thomas Llewelyn/ assistant
TIME/PLACE Victorian London
FIRST LINES Assistant to prominent enquiry agent. Typing and shorthand required. Some danger involved in performance of duties. Salary commensurate with ability, 7 Craig's Court. So ran the advertisement in the "situations vacant" column of THE TIMES for the 4th day straight.
COMMENTS: Great debut and will read on. Love the time & setting and the characters are unique. Cyrus Barker is an odd looking fellow w/ a bit of a "gray" past. Thomas Llewelyn is a young man who had a benefactor paying for an Oxford education but circumstances …stopped his education when his young wife was ill. He was accused of stealing and sent away to prison. About to end it all he makes a last stop/stab applying for this job. Barker sees beyond the superficial and sees his potential. This 1st outing deals w/ the Jewish community, religious prejudice, eugenics and betrayal. Kept me interested. ( )
  pammykn | Dec 28, 2015 |
While both the seasoned "enquiry agent" and his new assistant have fascinating back stories, and the setting is distinct, the murder and investigation are not compelling. Mysterious and exotic Cyrus Barker and desperate, young Thomas Llewelyn plod along by foot or carriage, interviewing potential suspects, while the only interesting revelations are Thomas's discoveries about Barker and the reader's insight into the likable narrator. Fans of historical fiction may enjoy information about the influx of Jews into Victorian London but I hope author Will Thomas finds more exciting cases for this potentially-entertaining duo in subsequent installmens. ( )
  bookappeal | Oct 2, 2015 |
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To Julia

You are all fair, my love, and their is no spot in you.

— Song of Solomon 4:7
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If someone had told me, those many years ago, that I would spend the bulk of my life as assistant and eventual partner to one of the most eminent detectives in London, I would have thought him a raving lunatic. (Prologue)
Assistant to prominent enquiry agent. Typing and shorthand required. Some danger involved in performance of duties. Salary commensurate with ability. 7 Craig's Court.

So ran the advertisement in the "Situations vacant" column of The Times for the fourth day straight. (Chapter 1)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743256190, Paperback)

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar in London's Jewish ghetto. When the eccentric and enigmatic Barker takes the case, he must hire an assistant, and out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," he chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man with a murky past.

As they inch ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder, Llewelyn is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the heart of London's teeming underworld. Brimming with wit and unforgettable characters and steeped in authentic period detail, Some Danger Involved is a captivating page-turner that introduces an equally captivating duo.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:25 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar."--BOOK JACKET. "As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London's teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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