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Some Danger Involved: A Novel by Will Thomas

Some Danger Involved: A Novel (edition 2005)

by Will Thomas

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5012620,341 (3.79)82
Title:Some Danger Involved: A Novel
Authors:Will Thomas
Info:Touchstone (2005), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 2012, mystery, historical fiction, england

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Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas



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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This is the first I've read from this author & I really enjoyed it. Set in victorian London, it begins a series featuring an eccentric enquiry agent (don't call him a private detective) & his assistant, a down on his luck Welshman. Full of period details, real life characters & wry humour, it makes for a quick & entertaining read.
Cyrus Barker is an enigmatic renaissance man who may well be the best enquiry agent in London. It begins with him interviewing for the recently vacated position of assistant. Unfortunately, his last side kick took a bullet between the eyes so it's important prospective applicants realize there will be "some danger involved". After three days, he meets Thomas Llewelyn. Thomas is a young man who has lost it all....his wife, his reputation & maybe his future. With three shillings in his pocket & few possessions, he has decided that if he doesn't get the job, his only option is a swan dive into the Thames.
But Cyrus sees something in the small, dark man & before Thomas knows it, he has a job, a home, a wardrobe & three square meals a day.
They catch a new case. A promising Jewish student has been murdered & left hanging from a light pole in a disturbing recreation of the crucifixion. Anti-semitism or something more personal? Sir Moses, a prominent & influential english Jew fears the possibility of a pogrom like those that have occurred in other European cities & wants this nipped in the bud. Cyrus & Thomas begin an investigation that will take them into neighbourhoods that are affluent & poor, Jewish & Christian.
Cyrus is an interesting man who seems to know every hidden doorway, back alley & trapdoor in London. Raised in the far east, he has an appreciation & profound knowledge of all things Asian, reflected in his practice of Tai Chi, an ornamental garden & Harm, a cantankerous Pekinese who doesn't hesitate to go for the ankles of any intruder. He's surrounded himself with odd characters: Mac (the Jewish valet/housekeeper/bodyguard), Etienne (a temperamental French chef who knows how to hold a grudge) & John Racket (the ever present cab driver).
Thomas is a sympathetic character who has known only poverty, hardship & heartbreak 'til now. Under Cyrus' employ, his world expands as he's exposed to people & places he never knew existed & he has to learn on his feet. It's not going too badly & it takes a full week before someone attempts to kill him. Huh, maybe he should have read the help wanted ads more carefully.
There are lost of twists & turns in this smart & amusing who-done-it. I know other reviewers have made comparisons to Holmes & Watson & there are similarities but this is much more fun. Cyrus has his secrets but is much less arrogant than Holmes, not as cold & supercilious. The book is narrated by Thomas so we get his take on everything that happens plus his witty impressions of the colourful cast they encounter during the investigation. Through his eyes, we experience the simmering struggles between different ethnic groups set against the age old British class system. Dialogue is lean & smart & the tension slowly builds as we reach the action packed finale. Like a good Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie mystery, only with hindsight do you realize the significance of earlier comments that seemed inconsequential at the time.
There is a huge variety of characters & the author's descriptions bring them to life ("Her hair was pulled back so severely, it would have won approval from the Spanish Inquisition as a method of torture."). And there is a compelling murder(s) mystery to be solved. But at its' heart is the budding relationship between the two main protagonists. Many of the passages I enjoyed the most took place under Cyrus' roof during conversation between the boss, Thomas, Etienne & Mac. And Harm, of course (I don't want to risk pissing off the tiny terror).
Clever, witty & atmospheric, this is a book that keeps you chuckling as you follow the intrepid agents on their current case & I will definitely pick up the next one to see where it takes them. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Sep 14, 2014 |
The first book in a promising series of Victorian England detective novels finds the somewhat superhuman but attractively eccentric sleuth Cyrus Barker and his green but plucky assistant, Thomas Llewellyn, on the trail of the vicious Anti-Semite League. The book provides interesting insights into Jewish life in 1884 England and features cameos from historical Jewish figures such as the centenarian Sir Moses Montefiore and the 21-year-old Israel Zangwill (future author of "The Melting Pot"). I loved the vividness with which London was portrayed, especially the neighborhood of Elephant and Castle, (which I visited exactly 100 years later), and the dialog and plot are soundly constructed. However, the book suffered from what I take to be first-novel flaws, most notably a rather over-explicated solution to the mystery, in which the villain delivers a monologue over a page long explaining in great detail how he dunnit as one of the heroes is in mortal peril. Also, very strangely, the novel is written in American English despite being set entirely in London. Finally, the novel was apparently edited via spell-check: a character filed down the "site" of his pistol and commented on the "yoke" of his eggs. I hope both the writing and the editing improve in future entries in the series—which I intend to read. ( )
  john.cooper | Jun 24, 2014 |
I liked this novel. While not as detailed as, for example, a Sherlock Holmes novel, the plot did hold my attention and I found that I enjoyed reading the novel from the "assistant", Llewelyn's point of view. Now off to read the next installment! ( )
  Arkrayder | Feb 6, 2014 |
Every November (with the exception of while I was in college), I re-read the Complete Sherlock Holmes. If there was ever a series that could fill the yearning I always end up feeling for more of the same kind of Victorian mystery and pure friendship, this is it.

Barker and Llewellyn are a great pair, and these are the kinds of books you simply get completely lost in. In addition to Barker's Orient roots, adding an interesting perspective on Victorian London, the narration sweeps you into a bustling world on both sides of the track in every book.

The supporting characters, such as Mac, the butler or the French chef Etienne, are all as interesting as the protagonists. You spend much of the book looking forward to bumping into the minor characters as much as you do to following the always-clever plot twists.

If Holmes and Watson are to ever have competition in the hearts of mystery lovers, Barker and Llewellyn are sure to be front runners in giving it.

For more of my book reviews, please visit my blog, The Body on the Floor at http://www.bodyonthefloor.blogspot.com. ( )
  Shutzie27 | Feb 2, 2014 |
Probably more of 3.5 stars, but it was better than average and it was well done.
It a good sink you teeth into it classic mystery and detection story with plenty of red herrings all looking like smoked salmon!
Interesting characterizations, realistic London locale, believable.

I will read the next in this series.
( )
  binadaat | Sep 27, 2013 |
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To Julia

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

— Song of Solomon 4:7
First words
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:45 -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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