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Project Project Gutenberg: The Devil’s Paw

August 14, 2009

[Project:  Project Gutenberg–where I’m reading and reviewing public-domain fiction from Project Gutenberg from A to Z]

Mr. Stilton, relaxing in the hammock, is one reason I’ve gotten behind in my reading schedule.  I’ve committed to some sock monkeys for CraftHope, and Mr. Stilton (named by Little Sunshine) is my trial run.  I’ve never made a sock monkey, and although it’s not difficult to do, I’m bemused by how Mr. Stilton turned out.  I’ll keep you posted.

Also, nearly everyone Joan knows is pregnant.  I’ve been making booties, booties, and more booties, and I’m in the middle of an Elizabeth Zimmerman Best Baby Sweater.

But nevertheless, I found time to read our D novel:  The Devil’s Paw (1920), by E. Phillips Oppenheim.

This is a great novel.  Faithful reader Kicking-K, you would love this one.  It’s a World War I spy novel.  Julian Orden, our hero, is the youngest son of a peer.  Formerly a barrister, he’s been invalided out of the army and now fills his time as a journalist.  Miss Catherine Abbeway, daughter of a Russian woman and an Englishman, is a well-known (and beautiful) Labour activist and peace advocate.  She may also be a German spy.  She is certainly guilty of fomenting a criminal–perhaps treasonous–conspiracy of trades unionists who threaten a general strike if England will not negotiate with Germany for peace.  When Julian and Catherine fall in love, their lives become quite complicated–and so does the plot.

Things I loved about The Devil’s Paw:  the trades unionists are not the bad guys; Catherine doesn’t give up her Labour principles for love, and Julian loves her for it; his secret is easy to guess, but still gratifying; there are tons of excellent minor characters; the pace is swift and appealing.  Workmanlike prose, eminently hateable villains, and a hopeful ending.   It’s reminiscent of Bulldog Drummond, another of my favorites, but with the advantage of not outraging my socialist sensibilities.

Hurrah for The Devil’s Paw, an excellent way to pass a summer afternoon.

And we’ll press onward to E:  The End of Her Honeymoon (1913), by Marie Belloc Lowndes.  It looks like a thriller, with pretty girl stranded in Paris when her brand-new artist husband disappears from their hotel.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hels permalink
    August 16, 2009 7:06 am

    okay, so I misread “Also, nearly everyone Joan knows is pregnant.” as “Also, nearly everyone knows Joan is pregnant.” After picking myself up off the floor I read it again …. this time correctly 🙂

  2. September 23, 2009 11:05 am

    Yup, you’re right – sounds just like my kind of thing… I used to have a serious John Buchan habit when I was a teenager, even though (even then) he outraged pretty much every sensibility I’ve got.

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