Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 19, 2007 20:12:06 GMT
Well this is a rum 'un and no mistake. Moving on to 1960 and the champagne 'n' fags bills must have been tremendous as this little house brick weighs in at 513 pages. (Although the book proper doesn't kick off until page 9 - if that's any consolation.) I remembered this as being a communist-infiltration of trade unions with a bit of Satanism thrown in. There's a heck of a lot more than that going on! As you may have guessed from the length of this novel there's bucket-loads of soap-boxing, lecturing,waffle, current events, characters questioning their motives, and all manner of scene setting. At heart it's a DW adventure yarn and,despite the title, the occult stuff could easily have been dispensed with. (I'm glad it wasn't). Unlike,say, The Devil Rides Out, the narrative isn't direct - there's about 3 or 4 plots going on, and if a character is cliff hanging at the end of a chapter you can bet the next one hops off to where other denizens of the book were at the same time. All rather confusing really. There are plenty of good scenes in the book but overall it's a bit of a sprawling mess, with DW perhaps trying to pack in a bit too much. Explaining what happens is going to be a bit difficult. Colonel Verney (from To The Devil - A Daughter) is examining a photograph of a naked man. It's one of his squad of investigators - who's had his throat cut and been crucified upside down. Surprising, as he'd been looking into the aforementioned communist infiltration etc. Undeterred, Conkey Bill sends for Barney Sullivan, Oirish adventurer and explains the set up - and that he wants Barney to carry on the investigation. Shortly afterward he receives two more visitors. Pert, pouting, Blonde bombshell Mary Morden, widow of the deceased, who's set on bringing his murderers to justice. CB, noting that her black and white check suit is (boo!) ready made, but her nylons are (hooray!) of good quality, does his best to dissuade her but she's not for turning. She's sussed her hubby was involved in Black Magic. CB points out that getting involved with this stuff is not on - not least because she could have to participate in disgusting rituals of an ..erm..sexual nature. She brightly responds that her past as a 'cabaret girl' in Ireland has prepared her for all manner of unsalubrious goings-on. Flabbergasted, the Colonel wishes her luck, gives her a couple of tips on going undercover and tells her to call if she's in real trouble. His next visitor is Squadron Leader Forsby of the Long Range Rocket Experimental Establishment in Wales. Seems one of his boffins is going a bit doolally. In view of the secret work he's engaged it, this could be a security risk. So, we now have three strands of story to follow. Mary duely begins to attend a Theosophist group she knows her husband attended. She's now Margot Mauriac, with dark brown hair and a different address. Barney's also turned up the fact that the late Teddy Morden was active in this circle and he makes Margot's acquaintance. Almost unbelievably, Mary 'knew' Barney in Ireland - where he behaved in an unacceptably caddish manner - leaving her in a great deal of trouble after a dalliance. She recognises him, but as she's heavily disguised he doesn't click on. Lurking in the background is Mr Ratnadatta. As he is non-English and has nasty protruding teeth it's not too hard to realise which side he's batting for. (More to follow...)
Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 19, 2007 20:15:03 GMT
Dem -- It's already starting to come back to me, FM. I seem to remember that Mr. Ratnadatta's smelly Satanic breath can kill a skunk from twenty paces? I don't think we're supposed to sympathise with him.
How's C. B.'s nose shaping up? Has he discovered cosmetic surgery in the intervening years, or is it still business as usual in that department ?
FM-- Spot on with Ratnadatta's breath Dem. It reeks of 'bad lobster' which just shows what sort of circle DW was moving in and why his top fans are members of the aristocracy. Even Satanic aphrodisiac wine can't kill it - pass the Listerine! Conkey's nose is married to the former Ms Fountain, but she and her son are kept off page - as a tax dodge. Meanwhile, Barney is falling for Mary/Morag and trying to warn her away from the Satanists. Mr Halitosis is a talent spotter for the Brotherhood Of The Ram - a devil-worshipping bunch of ne'er-do-wells. Mary successfully infiltrates the Black Magicians. She's fed up with Barney standing her up - not realising he 's having to attend communist trade union booze-ups. The Reds are certain that anti-Commie Tom Ruddy, odds-on fave to become Trade Union General Secretary and lead a Joe McCarthy clean up, won't succeed. What's this got to do with Lucifer? Loads - back at the Temple Of The Ram seemingly nice guy Abaddon is an insane strangler and is asking Mary to pledge her allegiance to Our Lord Satan by jumping up in bed - naked - and throwing her arm around 'Mr X'. CB is worried about our top rocket scientist. He's got an identical twin brother - who's a raving neo-Nazi and has occult powers. Mary accomplishes her devilish mission and is about to be initiated into the coven which will include 'service to the Temple'. (what our Hells Angels chums would call 'pulling a train' I believe.) Ratnadatta believes in fair shares for all - and he's in a hurry for his attempting to ravish Mary before the ceremony. She's saved by a husky American who punches Ratty into the middle of next week. Despite being a Satanist and it being, yup, Walpurgis Nacht, the saviour (Colonel Henrik G Washington of the US Air Force) spirits her away. An awful lot happens between these events and a final showdown in Switzerland (home of Muesli). DW builds everything up to a terrific climax and throws it all away on the last page. I have to applaud the character of Mary tho'. A strong, resourceful heroine, who even saves one of the heroes who has failed to save her. Not exactly top notch but a good read. There are some nice occult set pieces but I can't help feeling Dennis lost his way a bit with this one.