While the millionaire Stratford Harlow is in Princetown, not only does he meet with his lawyer Mr Ellenbury but he gets his first glimpse of the beautiful Aileen Rivers, niece of the actor and convicted felon Arthur Ingle. When Aileen is involved in a car accident on the Thames embankment, the driver is James Carlton of Scotland Yard. Later that evening Carlton gets a call. It is Aileen. She needs help!
u had millions what would you do? Retire, of course. Build or buy a beautiful house--and then?'
'I don't know,' said the older man vaguely. 'One could travel... '
'The English people have two ideas of happiness: one comes from travel, one from staying still! Rushing or rusting! I might marry but I don't wish to marry. I might have a great stable of race-horses, but I detest racing. I might yacht--I loathe the sea. Suppose I want a thrill? I do! The art of living is the art of victory. Make a note of that. Where is happiness in cards, horses, golf, women-anything you like? I'll tell you: in beating the best man to it! That's An Americanism. Where is the joy of mountain climbing, of exploration, of scientific discovery? To do better than somebody else--to go farther, to put your foot on the head of the next best.'
He blew a cloud of smoke through the open window and waited until the breeze had torn the misty gossamer into shreds and nothingness.
'When you're a millionaire you either
Fans of Edgar Wallace, and who know something of his life, will have realized that not only Mr Stratford Harlow is the Joker in this novel, but also Edgar Wallace himself reveals his own joking side. He lived at Bourne End in the Parish of Marlow. Is that where Harlow, his character's name came from? I believe so.
In Margaret Lane's biography of Edgar Wallace, Wallace is said to have experienced a hot spot at the
top of his head when working. On the second page of The Joker, comes, 'splendid ideas were born in Stratford Harlow's (Edgar Wallace's?) mind, great schemes loomed out of the nowhere which is beyond vision.' His book plots?
Was EW speaking about himself when he observed, 'He had all the requisite qualities of an observer; his enjoyment was without the handicap of sentimentality, a weakness which is fatal to accurate judgement.'
Is this how EW chose his characters?
Stratford Harlow says 'he detests horse racing' but betting on horses was the recreational love of EW's life. What a joke!
There are others in this jolly good read, but I leave to you to look for them yourself.
I must admit that I have fallen to temptation and included odd personal facts in my two published books, Sherlock Holmes's Tibetan Adventure, and The Death Detective and the Skeleton, both available from Amazon. John F. Rice.
I almost lost interest during the first part of this book. But eventually it develops into a very good crime fiction novel with some complex surprises.
Really enjoyed this. Great fan of Wallace and I usually keep a fairly good eye out for his big twist at the end but I didn't see this one coming.
One of Wallace's best.
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