I’m not sure how many Dennis Wheatley books i’ve read now but it must be at least 3 and I’ve really rather enjoyed all of them. This is a romp set mainly in Egypt in the 1930’s (or thereabouts) and concerns a shamed young man who manages to run into just about as much trouble as you could hope for (you just have to look at the back cover to see what kind of trouble he gets tangled up in – dope running, white slaving, etc) whilst simultaneously trying to get revenge on the criminal who brought about his professional downfall and engaging on a mission to find some ancient buried treasure.
As far as i can tell so far all Wheatley’s heroes tend to be quintessential Englishmen who are staunch supporters of Queen and country and generally a little upper-class and somewhat snobbish. This makes some of their ideas and morals seem slightly odd when viewed through contemporary eyes but at the same time it makes me wish i’d been around to see the world at such at time.
I’m more than a little surprised that Dennis Wheatley isn’t a little better know today considering that he used to sell in excess of 1 million books per year during his heyday and his book sales were second only to Agatha Christie in the UK. My mum had read some Dennis Wheatley when she was younger and agreed that it was unusual how relatively unknown he is today. Apparently one of the reasons for this has been problems with copyright but hopefully this will be cleared up at some point as his literary estate has now been acquired by a media company called Chorion.
Some of the characters are no doubt a little dated by comparison to how they’d be portrayed today but i’ve no doubt that they accurately reflect some of the prevailing ideas of the time; women are largely frail things who need a man’s protection, foreigners are lazy good for nothing chancers and the British are indeed God’s own nation.
As is clear from the front cover (below) this was another of our £1 specials but was most definitely worth it. I don’t like to give too much away about the plot in these little reviews but the fact that I’ll be seeking out more Wheatley on our next book buying mission surely tells you what i reckon…