Sunday, July 30, 2017

#1 - The Hand of Power by Edgar Wallace (1930)


About this edition: This edition has just the novel, with no promotional or preview material.

Edgar Wallace (photo: Wikipedia)

About the author: Here is a Wikipedia article on Edgar Wallace. He also authored The Day of Uniting in the Mystery League series.

  • Dr. Joshua Laffin, creepy retired physician who lives in a creepy house, and guardian of...
  • Betty Carew, red-headed actress, and love interest of...
  • Lord Clive Lowbridge, who has just inherited his title and mansion, but without any funding to manage it
  • La Florette, a dancer, claims to be French but lets a Cockney accent slip occassionally.
  • Police Inspector Bullott, who rents an unused room to...
  • William "Bill" Holbrook, who quits his advertising job at Pawter Publicity Services to get back into journalism, along with...
  • Benson, his butler, who also knows how to find out things.
  • Pawter, head of Pawter Publicity Services
  • Captain Harvey Hale, out-of-work sea captain since he ran his ship aground
  • Toby Marsh, a street-wise, educated, well-spoken burglar, and a boarder of ... 
  • Jenny Hamshaw, mother of La Florette
  • Lambert Stone, American millionaire, and brother of...
  • Leiff Stone, founder of the Sons of Ragousa, a shady fraternal organization which runs a lottery to attract members
  • Brother John, an ex-priest, curious about Betty's stint in the window (names shown in red indicate those unfortunates who do not survive the novel). Brother John does not even survive two pages.
  • Mr. Van Campe, manager of the theatre
Locale: England, and at sea

Synopsis: Betty Carew and La Florette work in the theatre, but when the play closes early Betty is compelled by her guardian Dr. Laffin to take a job from Pawter Publicity Services posing in a store display window; ostensibly advertising a unique desk. The real purpose is to deliver a message to a stranger who may show up at some point and ask for it.

Once the message is delivered, the display window job is done. Dr. Laffin takes Betty home, and locks her prisoner in her room. Bill Holbrook and Toby Marsh observe, conspire, break in, and release her. .

Betty returns to the theatre. She is approached and questioned by Brother John, a member of the shady fraternal organization Proud Sons of Ragousa; whose only purpose seems to be running a lottery. Brother John meets his end on the street immediately following. Bill Holbrook joins the Ragousas in an effort to infiltrate it. The Ragousas kidnap Betty in the belief she is destined to be their new leader.

Soon the action moves to an ocean liner bound for New York, with all the principal characters aboard, and apparently the evil Dr. Laffin too. The Ragousas are aboard also, with their eyes on plundering a cash shipment to the US.

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