Reviews by Henry L. Ratliff

A Romance of Wastdale

by A.E.W. Mason

(1910) Romance( Tragedy / Suspense (Murder)


R: * * *


Plot bullets


  • A man finds that his wife-to-be has secrets.

  • The man's once best friend has love letters that he threatens to use against the girl.

  • The scheme is exposed.

  • Murderous plans are made for revenge.

  • The small town of Wastdale has few secrets, but this is an exception. It is a black secret for some but soon will no longer be A Secret of Wastdale.


Reviewed on 2014.04.09

The Spy in Black

by J. Storer Clouston

(1917) Espionage (WWI) / Mystery (Spy)


R: * * * * *


Plot bullets


  • A German soldier is put ashore on and English island, from a submarine, for a three day mission to gain information about British fleet movements.

  • The first part of the story is told from his viewpoint, as he tries to avert detection and meet up with his contact.

  • In the second part, the plot thickens as the master spy, his contact, executes his plot of impersonation (that of a village Vicar), and sets himself up to fulfill his part in the mission.

  • The soldier considers himself, as just that, a soldier on a mission, not a spy, and has issues with the cold ruthlessness of his contact.

  • Yes, there is a beautiful lady spy for whom he learns to care.

  • In the final segment, the mission falls apart. All is not as it seemed.

  • Is the story about the soldier who lands in the black of night clothed in a dark jumper to hide his uniform, the master spy, who is disguised in the black clothing of a Vicar, or the black deeds of the profession itself?. Who is, The Spy in Black.?



Reviewed on 2014.04.02

Swiss Family Robinson

by Johann David Wyss

(1849) Adventure (Survival) / Young Readers (Moral religious/social)
R: * * * *


Plot bullets


  • This family is in route to Australia.

  • Their ship is wrecked off the African coast and only the family members, some animals and ship goods remain.

  • The family set about to make an island there new home. This is done too an incredible extent as the father is a scientist and the family the ideal social unit.

  • They must conten with the fear of pirates (sorry Disney, there are none), the need for shelter and food, and rescue. They make it a paradise.

  • If you had to be ship wrecked on an island, you would wish to do so with, The Swiss Family Robinson


Reviewed on 2014.03.27

The Great Impersonation

by E. Phillips Oppenheim

(1920) Espionage (WWI) / Mystery (Unraveling past events) /Suspense (Political)


R: * * * * *


Plot bullets


  • Sir Everard Dominey, an Englishman, and Baron Leopold Von Ragastein, a German are old school acquaintances.

  • They are more that that. The resemblance of the two is remarkable.

  • Dominey shows up in Africa at the plantation of Baron Von Ragastein, who has been placed there for espionage work for Germany, in case of, or in preparation for war.

  • Von Ragastein devises a plan to take advantage of an opportunity to switch places with Sir Edward and do some secret work in England, as Sir Edward.

  • The masquerade will not be easy, as he must deal with Sir Edward's past. And must be prepared to encounter and best these situations:

    o Sir Edward left England to flee a possible murder indictment.

    o The event mentally effected his wife Rosamund to the point that she may want his life.

    o The mother of the man he was supposed to have killed. THis woman is his wife's personal attendant and confidant.

    o Rumors of a ghost of the man he was supposed to have killed.

    o Von Ragastein's old lover, who is determined to cause trouble.

  • Under these conditions, and thosed imposed by the war, can any one man keep up, 'The Great Impersonation'.


Reviewed on 2014.03.25

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