Monday, 28 March 2016

Get Wallace! [book]


The cover of Get Wallace by Alexander Wilson
I hope you're having a splendid Easter. I've had a great time, getting big jobs like painting the garden fence done, making my own hot cross buns (more about that on Greedybots) and, best of all, seeing a couple of good friends get married on Saturday. I'll have photos of that later in the week, as Mr Robot takes much better photos than me so I'm waiting for him to process his ones. I'm annoyed with myself for missing the Shepton Mallet flea market; we want a wing chair for the living room and I'd meant to go, but then looked online and thought I saw the date wasn't till April. I suspect I was looking at the wrong event!

I've also had time to read. I spotted Get Wallace! when I was in Waterstones spending my birthday vouchers. I'd never heard of Alexander Wilson's character Sir Leonard Wallace, but the bright retro cover instantly appealed to me, and when I saw the line 'Available for the first time since the 1930s' on the back I knew I had to have it.


Like just about every vintage thriller series you can name, this is cited as an ancestor of the Bond books. I don't have the others in the series (yet...) but I'd dispute that. Sir Leonard is head of the Secret Service, happily married with a son. You'd never write those last five words about James Bond! Besides his happy marriage, one other thing is really striking about Wallace, and that's his false arm, which doesn't seem to hamper him in his exploits, but again is definitely not something you'd associate with 007.

If you've read other adventure stories from the 1910s onwards, you'll probably be familiar with the sort of eager chaps the heroes of adventure stories surround themselves with, whether that's Dick Barton's Jock and Snowy, or Sexton Blake's pal Tinker. Wallace's right-hand man is his second-in-command, William Brien, but he also has a whole gang of subordinates, from wrinkly little Cousins to burly Shannon. They're distinguished by their physical types rather than their characters - character isn't Wilson's strong point, and he relies more on the readers wanting to know what's coming next than much empathy with the characters to keep them reading.

In this novel, a gang of ne'er-do-wells has found a way to get hold of top-secret papers belonging to the British and French governments and is offering them to other countries. As the gang appears to be based in the Thames estuary, Wallace and his men have to hunt them down, reclaiming the British secret documents and helping the French out by finding some of their missing papers before the gang can sell them to the Germans or Russians. The story is jolly action-packed, with car chases, and rather more deaths and incidences of extreme violence than I'd usually expect in a 1930s adventure.

To be honest, I did get a little bored of this story towards the end. Wallace isn't massively interesting, and the action was rather predictable. I don't mind predictable stories if they're told in an entertaining way, but this felt a bit flat. I have other action and espionage novels from the first part of the 20th century that are still really engaging (Eric Ambler's spy novels are brilliant), and in some cases I wonder why they went out of print. That's not the case here; it's not something that will stick in the mind long after reading, or that you'll yearn to go back to.

I'll probably buy at least one or two of the other Wallace books in order to assess the series properly, but if you're not as into vintage adventure stories as I am, I'd recommend this one only as a library loan or if you can get it really cheaply.
A plate of home made hot cross buns
Happy Easter!

12 comments :

  1. Glad you're having a splendid weekend. Looking forward to seeing your wedding outfit.
    Those hot cross buns look delicious!
    That book cover is gorgeous, shame about the disappointing content. xxx

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    1. Yeah, it's not a bad book, but it's not £9 worth of book. £3 in a chazza, maybe!

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  2. Oooh, nice buns!

    Two things about this post made me smile-Waterstones is still around (hooray) and they still do vouchers .

    I live in a land of disappearing bookshops, and Christmas, Birthdays, etc. are a bit sad without a bookstore "gift certificate."

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    1. Waterstones still do vouchers, and it's still possible to buy book tokens, which indies accept as well as the big chains. We're really lucky in Bath to have two of the country's best indies, Toppings (http://www.toppingbooks.co.uk/) and Mr B's (http://www.mrbsemporium.com/) They're both ace - I can never leave either without buying an armful of books.

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  3. I love your tea plate! I have a few similar. I hadn't heard of that book series, I'll give it a go if I come across it but won't seek it out based on your review. This long weekend has flown, always the case when busy around the house! X

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    1. Tea plates seem surprisingly easy to find. I guess not many people use them any more.

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  4. It seems you got a lot more done that I did over the Easter weekend, Mim. It's a pity you missed the Shepton Mallet flea market. Have been reading that's it pretty good. Those hot cross buns look truly delicious! xxx

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    1. I can't bear wasted time. There's so much I want to get done, wasting time seems extra daft.

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  5. Damn, shame about the Shepton flea market, they're supposed to be good. Oh my good giddy aunt those hot cross buns look to die for, swimming in butter, mmmm... Xxx

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    1. I know, I'm kicking myself. I'll try to make the next one.

      I love butter. Remind me why I'm fat?!

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  6. Happiest congratulations to your friend! I love the idea of tying the knot on Easter weekend. The melding of a new season with a new union is deeply beautiful.

    Many hugs & happy wishes for the final days of March,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. It struck me as an unusual time of year to do it, but it was a beautiful wedding.

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