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The Irregular

May 22nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

I have a book to recommend. The Irregular by H.B.Lyle.

Last month I had proof copies of two different new novels that trade on a connection with Sherlock Holmes. The first was Arrowood by Mick Finlay, which was interesting enough, but I have to admit that I found The Irregular to be much more exciting. Let’s put it this way; both seem destined to tbe the first in a series but it is the sequel to The Irregular that I will look forward to more.The hook for the book is that it answers a couple of questions that I had not previously even thought to ask about the Sherlock Holmes stories, despite having read them all several times: how did the Baker Street Irregulars get to become Sherlock’s unofficial child spy network, and what happened to them when they got too old for it all?

The hero of the book is Wiggins, who cropped up in a couple of the Sherlock stories. At the start of the story he is an ex-soldier working as a sort of bailiff. He gets recruited by Kell, who is trying to set up a secret service but finding it hard to get agents. Part of the problem is that most people in the civil service are still from establishment families, often getting their position through family connections rather than qualifications, and the ex-public schoolboys he gets are not able to successfully go undercover in a munitions factory to root out possible spies there.

This is all against a background of a Europe full of fragile and shifting alliances, and Russia between revolutions.

The publicity for the book pitches it as a link between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, but I see it as more like an Edwardian version of the Kingsman film, with a working class hero getting into an organisation of ‘gentlemen’ and showing that there is more to being an effective spy than good manners and breeding.

I don’t think you would need to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes to enjoy the book, but fans will have an extra level of appreciation for it.

 

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