Dai Alanye

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Dai Alanye

Dai Alanye’s book reviews

Two shopworn premises propel this novel—the gentleman burglar tolerated by the better class of policeman, and the indestructible clue. All in all it's an absurd plot, something like The Perils of Pauline as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Still, I found it entertaining, particularly in the early chapters. Wallace is a decent writer, and his heroine, contra most others of that era, prevaricates at the drop of a hat and readily insults those she dislikes. Refreshing!
Red money starts promisingly if for no other reason than the excessively fine manners found in most novels of a century ago are varied with sly insults and snarkiness. Before long the realism falters, however, and we find ourselves in the middle of a preposterous murder mystery.

The characters are distinctive, certainly, but as the tale progresses they act less and less like genuine humans, and more like cutouts, with highly unlikely motives for such acts as murder, extortion and the naming of heirs.
In fairness, I should add that Oppenheim gets a couple of things right: Britain's loss of empire and the evil of the Versailles Treaty.

On the other hand, it's a stupid title.
Another questionable Oppenheim tale, though I must admit to skimming. But the, life is too short to waste on something this silly.

Published in 1922 but set in 1934, it manages to get nearly every prediction wrong.
Russia (not USSR) seems to be a democracy with the Bolsheviks driven into a few mountain fastnesses. China is ruled by a prince who admires Britain and British ladies. Germany? Well, Germany is just plain bad, as it always is in Oppenheim's stories.

Never fear, thouigh--the plot is just as silly as the rest of it.
After reading perhaps eighteen of Oppenheim's novels, including a few I've skimmed through, I conclude he's vastly over-rated despite managing to publish a ton of books.

Impersonation is considered his best (or at least most famous) yet it doesn't come up to snuff. Not a bad writing style, and impersonation stories generally are intriguing when well done (Prisoner of Zenda
When Collins is good he can be very good. Man and Wife, while showing a Victorian tendency toward over-dramatization, is for me one of his better novels.

He shows what seems to be thorough knowledge of certain aspects of British law--in this case the contrast between Scotch and English marital law. When he strays into the medical field, however, he's far less impressive.
You could be forgiven for thinking this the first novel Collins wrote, so amateurish it is in premise, plot and characters. But no, it came three years after the excellent Man and Wife.

Then again, publication date isn't necessarily the same as date of authorship. Perhaps this was a schoolboy effort, dug out of the files after his reputation had been made. Mildly amusing, though.
No Clue is a promising story, although the writing is a bit rough. It's a fairly logical mystery solved in a rational fashion by a believable detective.

Characters are pretty well delineated and believable. The writer cheats, as most of them do, when it comes to clues, introducing them gradually and incompletely, and saving the most important for the last few pages, pretty much late for the reader to make a successful guess. Still, he makes it work.
A decent read and a strong villainess, though I found the near-supernatural elements off-putting.
An intriguing heroine but a less than intriguing mystery, too contrived and artificially suspenseful.