Review

Some Danger Involved

by Will Thomas



Will Thomas (as he tells us in an Author's Note to his engrossing
debut novel, SOME DANGER INVOLVED) is a book reviewer for various
organizations and a speaker on Victorian crime fiction. It should
be noted that he is apparently too modest to present himself as an
expert on such matters, though such a conclusion is inescapable
after reading this fine work, the first of what will hopefully be a
long-running series. While Victorian London has primarily been the
province of cozies lately, SOME DANGER INVOLVED explores the
grittier and seamier side of that place and time, with riveting
results.

SOME DANGER INVOLVED introduces "enquiry agent" (which is now known
as a "private investigator") Cyrus Barker to the world of detective
literature. The story, however, is told through the eyes of Thomas
Llewelyn. As the novel begins, Llewelyn is responding to a cryptic
classified advertisement in The London Times seeking an
assistant enquiry agent who turns out to be the idiosyncratic,
brilliant Barker. Llewelyn is hired (his job interview is worth the
price of admission all by itself) and he is almost immediately
swept into a world of which he had no prior knowledge.

His first case with Barker begins but a few days after his hiring,
when a rabbinical student bearing a strong resemblance to classical
interpretations of Jesus Christ is found murdered by crucifixion in
London's Jewish ghetto. Anti-Jewish sentiment is running hot in
London at the time, and Barker and Llewelyn do not suffer from a
lack of suspects. Barker's investigation is not limited to London's
main thoroughfares; the back alleys of the city are explored, and
the duo investigates both the well-heeled and the downtrodden in
their natural habitats. Barker and Llewelyn encounter the early
Italian Mafia, a eugenics professor who teeters on the brink of
madness, and a host of other fascinating and unforgettable
characters --- some of whom are also employed in various capacities
by Barker. When a second murder appears, with a Jewess as the
victim, the tragedy ironically and ultimately provides the break in
the case that leads to the revelation of the identity --- and the
motive --- of the murderer.

SOME DANGER INVOLVED is more than a historical mystery, however. We
also come to know through this fine first novel the fascinating
backgrounds of Barker and Llewelyn. Llewelyn's background is a
study in contrasts, given his attendance at Oxford College and
unfortunate residency in Oxford Prison, where Barker's hardscrabble
childhood and scarred appearance is at odds with his wealthy
trappings.

While comparisons to Holmes and Watson are inevitable, given the
setting, the subject matter and the principals, SOME DANGER
INVOLVED is far more than a pastiche or tribute to Conan Doyle's
work. Thomas dips deeply into Victorian London, and also provides
his readers with interesting and insightful knowledge and
observations regarding Jewish culture. More tales of Barker and
Llewelyn are apparently planned; more would be most welcomed.
Recommended, regardless of whether or not you're a fan of Holmes
and Watson.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Some Danger Involved
by Will Thomas

  • Publication Date: May 18, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • ISBN-10: 0743256182
  • ISBN-13: 9780743256186