Saturday, July 27, 2013
Sexton Blake and the Sorcerers of Set
The Set in this book is, of course, an actual Egyptian mythological god who has nothing to do with snakes. In fact, though Set has the typical animal head of Egyptian gods, no one is exactly sure what animal the head is supposed to be. Looks like an ant-eater to me.
So yeah, I bought the book for the title, even though I'd heard that the 1960s era Sexton Blake books were pretty bland. Being me, though, I had to read it. Turned out to be a lot of fun but...weird.
See, Sexton Blake was originally a Sherlock Holmes style detective. Though, as I've said before, he also had a lot of pulpish action to his adventures, he still spent a lot of time in his dressing gown, making deductions based on his vast knowledge of crime and his attention to details that everyone else either missed or misinterpreted.
This book picks him up, more or less intact, and drops him into a seamy murder investigation in the swinging sixties. So it's almost like someone inserted the Victorian Sherlock Holmes into a gritty crime story. Blake's assistant tinker, now known by his real name Edward Carter, does most of the legwork and he's not above using his blond boyish good looks to get information from the ladies as he dashes about a London of mod shops and hip nightclubs. Gear, baby. Fab.
Meanwhile Blake still performs chemical experiments in his consulting room and his landlady, Mrs. Bardell still murders the English language and Pedro the bloodhound still sleeps in the corner. Makes for a slightly schizophrenic reading experience. The plot is pretty good however, and there's a lot of fun, 1960s references in the dialog. Might have to read a few more of the swinging sixties Blakes.