Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar.
When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists' renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered -- by crucifixion -- in London's Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out ...
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Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn Series #1)

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Overview

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar.
When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists' renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered -- by crucifixion -- in London's Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison.
As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London's teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.
Brimming with wit and unforgettable characters, and steeped in authentic period detail, Some Danger Involved is a captivating page-turner that introduces an equally captivating duo while signaling the start of an exciting career for Will Thomas.
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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
A hideous crime in London's Jewish ghetto -- the crucifixion of a rabbinical student who resembles images of Christ -- gives these playfellows a fine excuse to plunge into the mysterious world of the Victorian underground. Although the plot is impossibly thick with intrigue and danger, true believers who go along for the ride will hate to see it end.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Modeled after the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but with a verve all its own, this debut mystery introduces a likable pair of sleuths and explores the Jewish quarter of Victorian London. Fresh, self-effacing Thomas Llewelyn is a plucky lad down on his luck (he was booted out of Oxford and served eight months in prison for petty theft) when he becomes the unlikely assistant to idiosyncratic Cyrus Barker, a patently Holmesian private detective with an enigmatic background in China. Hardly has Llewelyn settled into his new quarters in his employer's residence when he is called upon to assist Barker in an investigation of the crucifixion death of a young Jewish scholar. The convoluted tale leads through the tightly circumscribed Jewish ghetto, as it appears that the murder may be the overture to a pogrom by vicious anti-Semitic factions. Barker's methods ("You see, I try to throw a web over London and sit like a spider in the midst of it all, my fingers on the strands") and Thomas's tone (" `I must admit, sir,' I confessed, `that I doubted you a little' ") may owe much to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the author's lively, learned tour of the various foreign enclaves of 19th-century London is notably contemporary. Besides initiating Llewelyn into the rigors of detective work, Barker introduces his young associate to a number of exotic cuisines, Chinese and Italian among them. Such period curiosities and the growing friendship between Llewelyn and Barker are the chief delights of this engaging novel. Agent, Maria Carvainis. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A first novelist and librarian, Thomas shows his expertise in Victorian crime fiction in an engaging mystery that invites sequels (he has written for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Sherlock Holmes publications). In 1884 London, young widower Thomas Llewelyn, an Oxford student who was wrongly incarcerated at Oxford Prison, is unable to find work and is ready to commit suicide when he's hired as the new assistant to private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker. As advertised, the position has "some danger involved": the previous incumbent was killed, and Llewelyn is soon shot at while assisting Barker in investigating the crucifixion of a Jewish teacher and rabbinical student who strongly resembled Jesus. Hired by a prominent Jewish leader to solve the murder and determine whether this and other recent incidents foreshadow a pogrom against the Jews of London, Barker and Llewelyn are at risk as they prowl the city, stopping to dine at intriguing restaurants. Thomas spins a fine tale, nicely atmospheric and building in suspense, with a pair of enquiry agents (don't call them detectives) who will win fans of the genre. Recommended for all mystery collections. [Thomas was profiled in "Shelf Life: Librarians Who Write," LJ 2/15/04. Ed.] Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A private eye hits the mean streets of Victorian London. Newcomer Cyrus Barker is hulking and anvil-fisted, yet no slouch at ratiocination either. He's supported here by a budding Boswell, Thomas Llewelyn, out of Oxford University and just out of Oxford Prison (eight months on a trumped-up larceny rap). Thomas has only recently come aboard, but he seems to have been born to the sleuthing craft, and his is the discerning and deeply admiring lens through which we watch London's foremost enquiry agent (he abjures the term "detective") operate. Their debut case involves a particularly gruesome homicide with hate-crime overtones: the crucifixion of Jewish student Louis Pokrzya. Is the brutal murder the work of the venomous Anti-Semite League? wonders the Jewish Board of Deputies as it commissions Barker to investigate. Perhaps so, perhaps not, replies Barker, with his customary caution, while acknowledging that this is "not the safest time to be a Jew in London." Trailed by his eager assistant, Barker sets about trying to "learn" the murdered student, not by any means an easy task. Though attractive and intelligent enough, Louis was a man who apparently preferred life on the periphery, a man who kept his secrets and made few close friends. But maybe a single serious enemy?Thomas's dark and dangerous London, impeccably researched, comes alive much more fully than his bland and underimagined cast. Agent: Maria Carvainis
From the Publisher
"What lucky readers will find in Some Danger Involved, by sure-footed first-time novelist Will Thomas, is a vibrant gumshoe full of contradictions and wit, equally at ease among London's highest society and its lowest denizens...Thomas's storytelling is top-notch, generously filled with humor and attention to detail. He brings to life a London roiling with secret leagues, deadly organizations, and hidden clubs."
-- Ron Bernas, Detroit Free Press

"The characters are fresh and appealing and the setting strong and original...While we get to know young Llewelyn pretty well, there is still a lot to be learned about his enigmatic employer, which we hope will be revealed in books yet to come."
-- Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post

"An exciting page-turner...I look forward to their next adventure!"
-- Anne Perry, New York Times bestselling author of No Graves as Yet and The Whitechapel Conspiracy

"Adds an appealing new duo to the hall of paired detectives...A colorful ride...terrific."
--John Orr, San Jose Mercury News

"Will Thomas explores wonderful uncharted territory...true believers who go along for the ride will hate to see it end."
-- Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743269148
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 6/3/2004
  • Series: Barker & Llewelyn Series , #1
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 31,886
  • File size: 347 KB

Meet the Author

Will Thomas is the author of Some Danger Involved, the first novel featuring Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, and now a Barry and Shamus Award nominee. He lives with his family in Oklahoma.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

ASSISTANT to prominent enquiry agent. Typing and shorthand required. Some danger involved in performance of duties. Salary commensurate with ability. 7 Craig's Court.

So ran the advertisement in the "situations vacant" column of The Times for the fourth day straight. On the first day, a Monday, I had arrived early, but not early enough. A long queue of hopeful clerks was already spilling out into Whitehall Street. So many applicants were ahead of me, and so eminently more suitable did some of them appear, that after a quarter hour's turn I abandoned my place and went in search of more realistic prospects. The Tuesday advertisement was, I assumed, mere thoroughness on the part of the employer; at a shilling a line, he could afford to advertise for two days, though the position might be filled on the first. On Wednesday, I was intrigued, but my attention was drawn to a situation in Hammersmith for which I believed I might be better suited, one that didn't offer "some danger involved in performance of duties." But when the request appeared the fourth day, I exclaimed over the newspaper in the Reading Room of the British Museum and vowed to try my luck again. Like young Arthur standing before the Sword in the Stone, I assumed I couldn't fail worse than anyone else.

I set down my pasteboard suitcase on the pavement at the end of the queue and looked at the line of applicants. They seemed identical to the gentlemen from the first day. I am sure that many of them were better qualified than I, but none was as desperate. The cheap suitcase at my feet contained all that I owned in the world, all that was left that could not be pawned. That morning, I had abandoned the garret I occupied, several days in arrears of my rent, with but threepence to my name, which I squandered on a tin cup full of chalky coffee and one of the thick slices of bread and butter they call "doorsteps," at a stall in Covent Garden. This was to be my final day of hunting for a situation. If I was not gainfully employed by seven o'clock that evening, I planned to take one last look from atop Waterloo Bridge at the premier city in Christendom, then snuff this guttering candle with a long jump into the Thames. Truth be told, I almost wished for the release, for my shattered faith still clung to the belief that I might be reunited with my wife, dead now almost a year. It was a trade I would only too gladly make.

Although I did stand in line, pushing my suitcase forward every minute or two, my hopes were not sanguine. There is a look which comes into a prospective employer's eye when he glances through your references and comes across the words "Oxford Prison." It's not a happy look, but an interesting one: first the eyes pop open with astonishment; then the brows knit together in a solid scowl; finally one brow raises sardonically, as if wondering how you have the brass to go on breathing after such a disaster. There may be further ocular calisthenics, but I was usually out the door by that time, one step ahead of the boot. At first I had agonized over these dismissals, but lately I'd just grown bored with them. One can only go through so much eye popping before it begins to pall.

There was a high brick wall beside us, and unlike the other applicants, I took the opportunity to shelter myself from the cold March wind. Somewhere on the other side, I heard a sound, the soft, rhythmic slap of rubber on brick. Someone was practicing tennis, or a child was playing ball. I thought it bitterly ironic that not five feet away someone was enjoying his life, while I was so close to forfeiting my own. I was beyond the stage of anger, however, and merely prodded my suitcase forward another few inches, with the toe of my boot. As I reached the steps of the building, I noticed a dustbin off to the side. I felt it was an omen and tossed the suitcase into it. What need had I now for a few threadbare collars and some moldy books of poetry?

Finally, I squeezed my thin frame through the door, into a kind of waiting room. Inside, the applicants were seated in a row, across from a bored-looking fellow behind a desk, his face buried in the Police Gazette. He took my name and asked me to be seated, as if the request were a complaint. I had never been in the offices of a "prominent enquiry agent" before, but the room looked much like several antechambers of bureaucrats and barristers that I had visited in the area, during my long search for work. When I entered I felt a tension in the room beyond the mere suspense of waiting for an interview.

"This is a rum one, no mistake," an older applicant said to me in a low voice, as soon as I sat down in a newly vacated chair.

"Rum?" I asked. "How so?"

"His nibs here announces each candidate, who goes in through that yellow door there. Then they come out madder than a wet hornet. Some come out right away, some in five minutes, some ten, but each one acts like he's been horsewhipped. This fellow must be a regular tartar. It's no wonder he can't find someone to fill the post. If you can't stomach the interview, however will you get on with the situation itself?"

It was just as my neighbor had foretold. Each applicant went through the yellow door behind the desk with the fatalism of French noblemen going to the guillotine. Some were ejected immediately, indignant at being dismissed with a cursory glance. Others returned after a few minutes, with a scowl on their faces, and after a longer wait, one fellow stormed through the office amid a volley of curses and slammed the outer door, making us all jump. When it was my neighbor's turn, he tipped me a sly wink and sauntered in. After a few minutes he returned, favored us all with a bow, placed his silk hat atop his head, and walked out with a droll smile on his face.

"Llewelyn," the bored man behind the desk announced, consulting his list. It was my turn in the lion's den. I wiped my hands on my trousers, swallowed, and walked through the door.

The chamber I entered was well furnished and dominated by a large desk and chair. Bookshelves lined most of the walls, but the heavy tomes shared the space with vases, statues, and objets d'art, most of them oriental in style. As I came in, the tall chair swiveled around to face me, and its occupant stood and pointed to a place on the Persian carpet in front of the desk. I moved to the spot and stood.

My prospective employer came from behind the desk, without bothering to offer his hand, and began to walk in a slow, clockwise circle around me, as one does when considering a horse. The light streaming in from the bow window behind me served to illuminate any patches, repairs, or weaknesses in my apparel and boots. He came about in front of me, having completed his circuit, and I was prepared for my immediate dismissal. Instead, still silent, he began a second revolution, counterclockwise this time. I had a different sensation now, as if we were two boxers in a prize ring. I would not have been surprised if he had shied a blow at my head.

"You're a black little fellow," he said at last, in a deep, raspy voice. "Welsh, I take it?"

It was true, but I took offense anyway. I am not tall (the fellow was a head taller than I), and I do have the black hair and swarthy skin of my once great race, the true Celts of Britain, but I didn't care for the way he phrased it. I could see only too easily what had put so many of my competitors in a lather. I was desperate, however, and inured to hardship, and so I merely nodded.

He held out a hand, palm upward, and I gave him my entire history laid bare in print. I waited for the eye popping. Here it goes, I thought. I shall be out in the dustbin with my suitcase in ten seconds.

"Thomas Llewelyn. Read at Magdalen College, Oxford, in Classics, and at Oxford Castle, picking oakum," the man rumbled. Or was that a chuckle?

He walked around behind the desk again and, turning his chair away from me, he sat. That was it. I was dismissed. At least his eyes hadn't popped, or perhaps they had. I couldn't see them. I gathered the papers, which he had tossed on the desk, thinking the Thames must be cold this time of year.

"Describe me, Mr. Llewelyn." This came from the depths of the chair.

"Sir?"

"I'm still speaking English, am I not? I haven't switched to Mandarin or Javanese, have I? I said, 'Describe me!' "

I marshaled my thoughts. "Yes, sir. You are about forty years of age, I believe, stand six foot two inches tall, and weigh about fifteen stone. You have a large mustache which extends down to your jawline and are wearing a pair of round, smoky spectacles with sidepieces. There is a scar dividing your right eyebrow. Your hair is black and combed to one side, the right side, I believe. Your face is pitted and seamed by what I assume was smallpox."

"Boils. Do not theorize. Continue."

"You are dressed in a dark gray morning coat, as I recall. Your trousers are striped in shades of gray, and your black pumps are highly polished. Oh, and your accent is Scottish, but it is not very thick. Lowland, perhaps."

I thought I had acquitted myself rather well, but the man turned his chair back to me without expression or remark. He reached into a desk drawer and slid a small notebook and pencil toward me.

"Take a letter, Mr. Llewelyn:

Cyrus Barker

7 Craig's Court

Whitehall, London

13 March 1884

Mr. Wilhelm Koehler

The Albany

Dear Mr. Koehler:

Have received your letter of the eleventh. My client has met with me regarding the conditions therein. I have encouraged him to publish the document in your possession, which he has reconstructed with my aid, and it shall appear in this evening's edition of the Standard. Any further attempts at blackmail shall be similarly declined. Should you feel it necessary to meet with my client in person, please be advised that he is now accompanied by Mr. James 'Bully Boy' Briggs, and that your face would no longer be your entrée into society's drawing rooms after such an encounter.

Your humble servant,

Cyrus Barker, etc."

Mr. Barker reached down behind the desk, and came up with a small typewriting machine in his hands, and placed it on the blotter. It was a Hammond and just new. He pulled back his large leather chair and offered me a seat in front of the machine. Typing and shorthand required, indeed.

"Paper?" I asked, as I sat down on the edge of the chair.

"First drawer left."

I put a piece of paper into the machine and began to type the letter he had dictated. I am not fast, but I am competent and careful. I made no mistakes. As I was typing his name at the bottom, Barker took an envelope from the drawer and placed it beside the machine. I pulled the freshly typed letter from the roller, returned the machine to its former place on the floor, and reached for the inkstand. He was testing my penmanship as well as getting some business done, not a bad trick with dozens of applicants. I set down the addresses in my best hand, then pulled open the middle drawer and retrieved a stamp, which, I admit it was luck, happened to be there. I licked the stamp and affixed it, then waited for my next instruction. Barker's brows disappeared in a frown beneath the disks, then he opened another drawer and removed a small sponge, which sat in a shallow dish of water there. He sealed the envelope and placed it on the right-hand corner of the desk. I noted that it was exactly half an inch from the front edge and the same distance from the side. Coupled with his scrupulously neat appearance, his fastidiousness made me think that he would make someone a most exacting employer.

Again, Barker made no comment but turned and opened a door on the opposite side of the chamber from the entrance, beckoning for me to follow. We walked down a rather featureless corridor of yellow doors until we came to the end. Barker opened the last and led me into a small, bare outdoor courtyard, surrounded by brick walls and covered in ancient paving stones. The icy March wind toyed with the dead leaves in the corners of the little square. He directed me to a bare wall, while he himself walked in the opposite direction, to where an open wicker basket stood against the brick. As I neared the wall, I recognized it as the other side of the one I had sheltered against while waiting to get in. I ducked just in time, as the first ball struck the wall an inch from my head.

He hadn't given me any instructions, but I assumed the object of Barker's little game was not to be struck by the ball. The basket was full of them, small, black spheres of hard India rubber, and I was determined not only that would I not be struck, but also that none would get by me. Barker proved himself a wicked hurler. I had been a competent goaltender on the football team in my village in Wales, and I caught or batted away every ball that came in my direction. Barker went through the entire basket. As I slapped what I assumed was the last one back at him, I saw one more missile coming my way. I was reaching for it when I realized it was not a ball at all. By the telltale glint of silver, it was a knife heading straight for my breast. I barely dodged out of the way as it flew past and struck the wall with a loud smack. It, too, was made of India rubber, cunningly painted.

We stood and looked at each other. I was breathing heavily, creating clouds of vapor in the cold spring air. Barker did not appear to be taxed in any way by his exertions and stood immobile, contemplating me. For a moment, I thought of repeating the words of the angry applicant who had slammed the door, with a few choice ones of my own thrown in. I mastered myself, however, and said, "I presume you shall inform me when the situation is filled. Good morning, sir." Then, with as much dignity as my five-foot-four-inch frame could muster, I bowed and marched from the courtyard.

I stalked through the empty corridor, past the blind doors, through Barker's chambers, and into the waiting room. All the applicants stared at me apprehensively. I opened the outer door and was considering a hearty slam that would rattle the door frame, when I heard a voice over my shoulder. Barker's voice.

"The situation is filled. You gentlemen may go. Jenkins, mind the office until I return." With a nudge in the small of my back, he pushed me forward, out onto the step.

"You look like you could do with some lunch," he said, conversationally.

"I have the position?" I asked, astounded.

"Never any doubt." He leaned out over the balustrade and retrieved my case from the dustbin. "Don't forget your belongings. Come, we'll take a hansom cab."

Copyright © 2004 by Will Thomas

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Table of Contents

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Introduction

Reading Group Guide

1. To what does the title refer? Who is narrating? Look at the language in the opening paragraphs. What does it tell you about the narrator? What are some of the specifics about the narrator's life up to his employment with Barker? Is he a reliable narrator? Why?

2. How does Some Danger Involved hook you as a reader? Share your response to the book's language and pace and details, and its characters. When does the story take place? Share some examples of how Will Thomas uses language and other sign-posts — such as people, items, customs — to reveal this.

3. In Chapter 2, what does Llewelyn mean when he tells Barker he is "playing Virgil to my Dante"? Does this foreshadow anything? If so, what? Recount what happens to Llewelyn in Chapter 2. What do we learn about Barker? What does Barker see in Llewelyn?

4. Looking at Chapter 3, read the titles of some of the books Barker lends Llewelyn. Why these titles in particular? What do these have to do with their work, or their lives? Do the titles of these books provide any clues to the story that will come?

5. Share your opinions about Barker. Describe him physically. Thinking about his habits, what kind of person is he? Does he remind you of any other literary Private Investigator? If so, who, and why? What do we really know about him?

6. At the end of Chapter 6, what does Llewelyn tell us that "barker" means? Does this fit with the character? Discuss the other character names. How does the author supply information about the characters by the names he chooses for them?

7. Given the story's historic setting, how does author Will Thomas incorporate England's class system? ConsiderBarker's staff. Why does the author choose the name Jacob Maccabee for his butler? Why, or why not, is a Jewish butler appropriate for this story?

8. Why does he use the struggles of the Jewish people here? What is he telling us? What is the role of anti-semitism in the book? How effective is it for this story?

9. In Chapter 13, look at the interview Barker conducts with Rev. Painsley. Share your reaction to what Painsley is saying about the Jews.

10. Why did you believe Llewelyn was shot at in Chapter 14? Did you have any clue as to why he would be a target? Did you realize that this was a ruse to throw off the investigation?

11. Share your reactions to Professor Rushford's speech on eugenics. Do you think this is still a prevailing opinion in some quarters? Why? What is the purpose of holding and espousing such an opinion? Discuss whether or not eugenics is a natural phenomenon (like Darwinism) or a fabricated one, and why.

12. Looking at Chapter 17, share how Llewelyn describes Nightwine when he first sees him. Describe Sebastian Nightwine. What is his residence like? What is his role in the story?

13. How did you react to Racket being the bad guy? How does Will Thomas succeed in surprising the reader with Racket's true identity? Why does Racket crucify the young scholar, and then attempt to crucify Llewelyn?

14. Looking back on the fact that Racket was always nearby with his carriage, do you think this was a subtle or not so subtle clue that he was the murderer? Share whether or not anything gave away the fact that Racket is not just a coachman.

15. Do you think there is much more to learn about Barker and Llewelyn? Discuss how Will Thomas leaves room for a sequel, and what you might like to see this pair doing next.

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Reading Group Guide


Reading Group Guide

1. To what does the title refer? Who is narrating? Look at the language in the opening paragraphs. What does it tell you about the narrator? What are some of the specifics about the narrator's life up to his employment with Barker? Is he a reliable narrator? Why?

2. How does Some Danger Involved hook you as a reader? Share your response to the book's language and pace and details, and its characters. When does the story take place? Share some examples of how Will Thomas uses language and other sign-posts -- such as people, items, customs -- to reveal this.

3. In Chapter 2, what does Llewelyn mean when he tells Barker he is "playing Virgil to my Dante"? Does this foreshadow anything? If so, what? Recount what happens to Llewelyn in Chapter 2. What do we learn about Barker? What does Barker see in Llewelyn?

4. Looking at Chapter 3, read the titles of some of the books Barker lends Llewelyn. Why these titles in particular? What do these have to do with their work, or their lives? Do the titles of these books provide any clues to the story that will come?

5. Share your opinions about Barker. Describe him physically. Thinking about his habits, what kind of person is he? Does he remind you of any other literary Private Investigator? If so, who, and why? What do we really know about him?

6. At the end of Chapter 6, what does Llewelyn tell us that "barker" means? Does this fit with the character? Discuss the other character names. How does the author supply information about the characters by the names he chooses for them?

7. Given the story's historic setting, how does author Will Thomas incorporate England's class system? Consider Barker's staff. Why does the author choose the name Jacob Maccabee for his butler? Why, or why not, is a Jewish butler appropriate for this story?

8. Why does he use the struggles of the Jewish people here? What is he telling us? What is the role of anti-semitism in the book? How effective is it for this story?

9. In Chapter 13, look at the interview Barker conducts with Rev. Painsley. Share your reaction to what Painsley is saying about the Jews.

10. Why did you believe Llewelyn was shot at in Chapter 14? Did you have any clue as to why he would be a target? Did you realize that this was a ruse to throw off the investigation?

11. Share your reactions to Professor Rushford's speech on eugenics. Do you think this is still a prevailing opinion in some quarters? Why? What is the purpose of holding and espousing such an opinion? Discuss whether or not eugenics is a natural phenomenon (like Darwinism) or a fabricated one, and why.

12. Looking at Chapter 17, share how Llewelyn describes Nightwine when he first sees him. Describe Sebastian Nightwine. What is his residence like? What is his role in the story?

13. How did you react to Racket being the bad guy? How does Will Thomas succeed in surprising the reader with Racket's true identity? Why does Racket crucify the young scholar, and then attempt to crucify Llewelyn?

14. Looking back on the fact that Racket was always nearby with his carriage, do you think this was a subtle or not so subtle clue that he was the murderer? Share whether or not anything gave away the fact that Racket is not just a coachman.

15. Do you think there is much more to learn about Barker and Llewelyn? Discuss how Will Thomas leaves room for a sequel, and what you might like to see this pair doing next.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2014

    Promising start to an interesting series

    The first book in a promising series of Victorian England detective novels finds the somewhat superhuman but attractively eccentric sleuth Cyrus Barker and his green but plucky assistant, Thomas Llewellyn, on the trail of the vicious Anti-Semite League. The book provides interesting insights into Jewish life in 1884 England and features cameos from historical Jewish figures such as the centenarian Sir Moses Montefiore and the 21-year-old Israel Zangwill (future author of "The Melting Pot"). I loved the vividness with which London was portrayed, especially the neighborhood of Elephant and Castle, (which I visited exactly 100 years later), and the dialog and plot are soundly constructed. However, the book suffered from what I take to be first-novel flaws, most notably a rather over-explicated solution to the mystery, in which the villain delivers a monologue over a page long explaining in great detail how he dunnit as one of the heroes is in mortal peril. Also, very strangely, the novel is written in American English despite being set entirely in London. Finally, the novel was apparently edited via spell-check: a character filed down the "site" of his pistol and commented on the "yoke" of his eggs. I hope both the writing and the editing improve in future entries in the series—which I intend to read.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    Very nicely done...

    An easy, relaxing sort of book of those early days in London. It certainly brought the city to life and focused on the early struggle of the Jews in Europe. I found the two main characters (Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn) a perfect pair for the enquiry agent role. Sort of made for one another. The humor injected here and there made for a lighter and not so serious atmosphere. The ending certainly was a surprise. Nicely done, overall.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    A wonderful start.

    I really enjoyed reading this first book in this series. I am very much looking forward to reading the second one. The two main characters were so entertaining, I am hoping in the next story, we get to know more about Barker, since we got to know so much about Llewelyn in this one. I was so surprised by the ending, I wasn't expecting who the killer turned out to be. A great time setting too, I love reading books from this time period.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    Very enjoyable. The characters are well-developed and the pace is just right. I can't wait to read others in the series.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    Excellent start to a series!

    This the first in a very good series. A little bit different than your regular Sherlock and Watson type novel. Lots of historical details about London.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Unique lead characters

    Well developed characters and backgound; seems as if it could be made into a series for PBS. Really anticipating reading the nextnovel as soon as it arrives in the mail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2007

    a decent novel

    I enjoyed reading this book. However, I thought all of the action revolved more around the characters and jewish customs of the victorian era rather than the mystery itself. I was surprised at the outcome, which was very well thought out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2006

    Great easy read

    Very pleasing book to read. Very well written and contrived.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2006

    Jews Murdered in Victorian London

    The narrator of this Victorian-style novel set in the late 1800s is a young Welshman who is taken in by a Sherlock Holmes-type Scotsman who trains him in skullduggery. Horse-drawn taxis carry these two 'enquiry agents' to the home of a rabbi, to a rabbinical school, and we learn a great deal about Jewish religious practices. It's the most interesting and deep research that you're likely to find in a mystery novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2005

    No 'Danger' Involved in Picking Up this Book!

    I loved this book. The characters were fleshed out and interesting. The story moves along and the plot was intriguing. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    I hate giving things five stars

    It just cheapens the system...but this was truly satisfying. The characters leap off of the page; I find myself wanting to know the backstory for each and every person. I just finished the book last night, and seriously considered picking it up and reading it through again. If you are a fan of Victorian mysteries and the wonder that is 18th century London, you'll love it. Takes the seemingly static Holmes/Watson formula and does something wonderful. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2004

    Excellent mystery

    After being expelled from Oxford and spending several months in prison, young Welshman Thomas Llewelyn responds to a Times ad in the ¿Situations Wanted section that an Enquiry Agent needs an assistant. Thomas applies for the ¿SOME DANGER INVOLVED¿ position. Following a unique interview culminating with dodging a knife tossed at his chest by the employer Cyrus Barker, Thomas, not losing his aplomb, gets the job............................... The Jewish Board of Deputies retains Barker to investigate the crucifixion murder of Jewish student Louis Pokrzya by perhaps the brutal Anti-Semite League. Barker leads his recruit through the Jewish ghetto where few want to talk with a person seemingly of authority out of fear of governmental reprisal even if the two sleuths have no such credentials. Meanwhile the case provides Thomas with an on the job training through the various dangerous ethnic underground factions teeming in the London ghettos with several folks wanting the sleuths silent and others just despising or fearing outsiders................................ If it sounds like Holmes and it reads like Holmes, it must be Holmes. Wrong!! Instead SOME DANGER INVOLVED pays homage to Holmes, but also furbishes a delightfully refreshing Victorian mystery starring two wonderful protagonists. Barker in many ways is as enigmatic as Holmes and Llewelyn is the chronicler like Watson. However, this team is clearly different and their journey into the London ghettoes is fast-paced, vividly alive, and filled with action and awe as Barker introduces Llewellyn to a mini globe inside the city. Their camaraderie as they share foreign cuisines inside an exciting who-done-it makes for a wonderful Victorian mystery tale that brings to life a unique segment of late nineteenth century London............................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    AWESOME READ! FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR!

    Will Thomas - Some Danger Involved is a new Writer to be reckoned with. He has written a fast-paced thriller set in late Victorian London. Barker and Llewelyn are the 'new kids on the block' in the Mystery genre! This is fresh and a welcome treat for mystery lovers! You feel pulled into the novel to try to solve the crime. It spins a tale of murder, betrayal and intrigue that introduces a well-researched and extremely interesting plot. As the tension escalates, this unlikely pair of 'Enquiry Agents' go on the hunt for the killer of a brutal murder. They are always two steps ahead to outwit the evil that lurks with every lead they follow. The sharp wit will make you laugh, although the novel is a serious read. If a book evokes thought provoking ideas, which this does, and delivers the end result it is a winner. This is a book that is a keeper to be reread! EXCELLENT novel for book club discussions. It will find a permanent place on my bookshelf! Mr. Thomas' first novel places him at the top with the finest writers, current and classic! 'Harm' Did you 'barker' Sequel? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2004

    A Literary Novel That Reads Like a Mystery

    This is the kind of new book Oprah would have spotlighted a few years ago. New author Will Thomas is erudite and scholarly, but his book plays on your heartstrings. I spent half the night laughing, and the other half with a tissue in my hand. What I couldn't do was to put it down. Thomas's put upon hero, Thomas Llewelyn seems to have been placed on this earth to be tortured, yet his spit-in-your-eye attitude and his sense of humor help him survive flying bullets, knives, and other dangers of the enquiry agent trade. As for his boss, Cyrus Barker, he's Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Bruce Lee, all wrapped up in one mysterious package. Thomas shows his scholarship when he sends his characters to defend the Jews pouring into London from programs in Eastern Europe, an exodus predating the Holocaust, and it is to his credit that he portrays the Jews as very real people, sometimes warm and funny, and othertimes suspicious and prickly. One cannot help but wonder if the author is making allusions to the present from time to time; Barker is a Baptist helping the Jews, reminding me of the recent attempt by the Baptists to convert Jews. As a Jew myself, I cannot find fault with any of the Jewish practices in the book. The author is the first Gentile I've come across who has heard of Miamonides. Some Danger Involved is a corking mystery, and it had better be a series, or we'll be beating at Thomas's door. It would't surprise me if Hollywood takes notice of this one, either.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2004

    Excellent book, would make excellent movie!

    This was a great book, one of the funnest I've read this year, and a real page-turner. Young Victorian Thomas Llewelyn doesn't know what he is in for when he hires himself out to the enigmatic detective, Cyrus Barker (picture Elijah Wood and Russell Crowe). When he does, hold on to your hats!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2004

    Best Book I've Read This Year!

    This is one of those page turners that keep you awake all night. Down on his luck Thomas Llewellyn is ready to try anything, but is unprepared for work as inquiry agent Cyrus Barker's assistant. Barker and Llewellyn must singlehandedly stop a pogrom against the Jews in London. It's Charle Dickens meets J. K. Rowling in this delightful first novel. Did someone say 'sequel'?

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    Posted September 27, 2009

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    Posted March 15, 2010

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    Posted November 14, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2011

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