Featuring the anti-hero "the Hawk," a gentleman jewel thief who outsmarts both the railway police and a nation-spanning conglomerate...
cat-and-mouse game we've been playing isn't--"
"We'll get back to that in a minute," interrupted MacVightie quietly. "Here's a little something else that may possibly fit into the combination." He reached into his pocket, took out his pocketbook, opened it, and handed the division superintendent a crisp new ten-dollar note.
The Hawk's lips thinned instantly, and he swore sharply under his breath.
"What's this?" asked Lanson, in surprise.
"Phony!" said MacVightie laconically.
"Counterfeit!" Lanson turned the note over in his hands, staring at first one side and then the other. "Are you sure? I'd take it any time."
"You'd have lots of company with you" -- there was a sudden rasp in the detective's voice. "Pretty good one, isn't it? The East is being flooded with them. Two of them showed up in the banks here in the city yesterday, and one to-day."
Lanson frowned perplexedly.
"I don't get you, MacVightie," he said.
"Suppose they were being struck off
If you have read and enjoyed the Clive Cussler books "The Chase" and "The Wrecker," it will become apparent that he has read "The Wire Devils" and based his hero on the one found here.
This is the story of a man pursuing a master criminal using all the latest technology available, much like a James Bond novel - it uses the latest telegraph and telephone science, as well a mastery of steam locomotion.
The story has the cadences of early twentieth century, but the attitude of much more recent mystery novels.
I did not enjoy this book as much as others written by Packard. The plot focuses on the Hawk who completes serving a prison term and immediately resumes his criminal career. He outsmarts police and other thieves by repeatedly intercepting and decoding telegram messages sent by felons via a railroad communications system, thereby grabbing the loot before others arrive on the scene. For me the details about the decoding process (which was repeated very often) was boring and I just didn't understand it. The Hawk's success at everything he did was so predictable - after a while I lost interest in his fate. To Packard's credit, he writes crisp, vivid scenes, fast paced, coupled with exceptional insight into the criminal mind.