Reviews by Henry L. ratliff

The Box with Broken Seals

by E. Phillips Oppenheim

(1919) Espionage/ Mystery (Detective) / Pulp

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The embassy's box with the broken seals has little to do with this story. It was a ruse that fooled many, but not James Crawshay of the English Service.

  • Jocelyn Thew created that diversion, to begin on an even bolder plan. He has stated the he will take important papers (that reveal the names of German spies) from America to Germany and brags that no one can stop him.

  • Their are men who will take great risks for money,excitement or a cause. Thew, has money, needs excitement and has a cause.

  • Thaw gains the help of Katharine Beverley, due to an old debt of her brothers. She is pressed into service as a nurse for a dying man, who wishes to return to the place of his birth. She becomes Thaw's red herring to confuse the workings of his enterprise.

  • A battle of wits continues across the Atlantic between Crawshay and Thew. Thaw's arrogance causes him to underestimate Crawshay's intelligence, but Thaw is very clever.

  • The trip across the Atlantic has become one of point and counter point. And it all began with 'The Box With Broken Seals '.

This is one of those gentlemanly adversarial plots that ends well and even the bad guy, isn't so bad after all.

Reviewed on 2014.08.23

Nightmare Abbey

by Thomas Love Peacock

(1818) Satire(Romantic movement) / Humor / Gothic

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Mr Glowry is a misanthrope. He dislikes humanity in general. He is the melancholy owner of Nightmare Abby, as it is called.

  • He surrounds himself with equally gloomy people. With servants like Raven, Graves and Deathshead, and guest like Mr Flosky, Mr Toobad, Mr Listless, and Mr Cypress. The old gentleman has only one hope for happiness, his son. But, that happiness can only be achieve if he can bring him down to his level of glum.

  • Scythrop is Glowry's son. He is currently recovering from a failed romance. One his father did not allow, due to an economical mismatch. Scythrop, develops, through his readings of the modern thought of the day, like transcendental metaphysics and such, a plan to correct the worlds woes.

  • Scythrop's world changing ideas are temporarily on hold due to what appears as a disinterested world, and two ladies, Marionetta and Stella,. He is in love. His efforts fail on all fronts.

  • There are no true ghosts to haunt the mansion, only the common place spirits of man trying to make sense of things at 'Nightmare Abbey'.

Reviewed on 2014.08.23

The Boats of the 'Glen-Carrig'

by William Hope Hodgson

(1907) Horror (Monsters/supernatural Beings) / Adventure (Survival) / Nautical (Ship wreck)

R; * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The sailing ship Glen Carrig, has foundered. Two lifeboats with a few survivors must deal with not only thirst and hunger, but the strange and deadly beings that they encounter, as they try to find hospitable land..

  • They first come across an island, and barely escape the almost supernatural beings living there. The trees on the island mimic or have turned past stranded souls to to tree shaped humans.

  • Their second landing is on an island in the middle of a vast sea of seaweed, much like that of the famous Sargasso Sea.

  • This vast mass of weed has also trapped ships in it's floating web. One of the ships has people aboard who have been stranded there for seven years.

  • There is now only one lifeboat, due to a separation in a storm. The few men aboard must fight for their lives and try to rescue the others.

  • The sea around the weeds is inhabited by giant devil fish (Octopus) and a deadly type of ghoulish creature that attacks by night.

  • The men are perched on a rock in the middle of the wed. The ship is too far off to get to easily, due to the creatures in the wed. All may be lost for the stranded ship and the crew from 'The Boats of the Glen Carrig'.

Reviewed on 2014.08.22

The Mystery of the Green Ray

by William le Queux

(1915) Espionage / Mystery / Romance

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Mysterious things are happening at the little cove. A girl has been blinded by what she can only describe as a green ray.

  • Others see, or think they see odd occurrences, all at the same spot on the river. A new resident has built a strange house on the hill and the glare from it's glass in the sunlight, is not green and only a nuisance to his neighbors at certain times of the day..

  • Tom is in love with the stricken girl. He does some investigation but discovers nothing. He does however find an oculist for the girl. This eye doctor turns out to be a lucky discovery, as he has connections with the government and is as clever as Sherlock Holmes.

  • The green ray strikes again. This time it is the girls dog, which is later abducted, when it is found that the doctor wished to investigate the dog's condition, in hopes of saving the girl's sight.

  • Tom, his best friend Dennis and the doctor are a prime team, as events come to a head as new comers put an even more suspicious light on the situation.

  • It is war time. All suspicious activity is taken seriously, but what significance can be attributed to a green light and a blind girl and dog.?

  • There must be an end to the puzzle. There must be a solution to 'The Mystery of the Green Ray'.

Reviewed on 2014.08.21

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