Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn Series #1)

Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn Series #1)

by Will Thomas

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743256193
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 05/28/2005
Series: Barker & Llewelyn Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 139,254
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Will Thomas is the author of the Barker and Llewelyn series, including Anatomy of Evil and Fatal Enquiry, as well as The Black Hand, The Hellfire Conspiracy, The Limehouse Text, To Kingdom Come, and the Shamus and Barry Award-nominated Some Danger Involved. He lives in Oklahoma.

AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson is a native of London, England. He is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit. Antony lives in Los Angeles.

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

Table of Contents

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.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
John_the_Editor More than 1 year ago
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.
bobsocean More than 1 year ago
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.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing 26 days ago
When Thomas Llewelyn, penniless and nearing the very end of his rope, answered the advertisement in "The Times" for "assistant to prominent enquiry agent. Some danger involved," he had already made up his mind that if he didn't get the position, his next step would be jumping off the Waterloo Bridge into the Thames and putting an end to his sad, wretched life. He was, quite literally, a man with nothing to lose. His interview with Cyrus Barker was odd, but at the end, he found himself with a new position. The first case he would work on came their way the next morning, with the gruesome discovery of a crucified young Jewish rabbinical student in the center of the Jewish ghetto. Cyrus Barker is hired to determine if the spectacular murder was a forerunner to another anti-Semitic raid against the Jewish community, or just a personal score that got settled the hard way. Llewelyn learns just what his job as "assistant" to an unorthodox vigilante detective entails the hard way as he and his employer inch closer and closer to the truth, and he finds himself literally drug through London's teeming underworld.This is a really good debut of a series, set in Victorian England, with plenty of character development that whets the appetite for the next installment. I really enjoyed this and will give it a strong 4.
TheAbominableDavid on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This book pleasantly surprised me - I was worried it would be another bad Sherlock Holmes knockoff, but it was quite enjoyable.
vespasia on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Historical english mystery with wonderful characters. A bit slow in places but overall a good read. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
uncultured on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Earnest, slightly nervous man finds work assisting a mysterious English detective (with an equally mysterious pas)t. Not Holmes and Watson, for in this book, Cyrus Barker, the lead detective, is training Oxonian (and former prisoner) Thomas Llewelyn to be his assistant. There's murder afoot in London's Jewish quarter, and the two men plunge in with a great deal of relish. The world of London Judaica is fascinating and Thomas must have done no small bit of research to write so well about the various Conservative and Reform groups, as well as the disadvantages of living under the minor (compared to continental Europe) yet pervasive anti-semitism of the time. Highly recommended for anyone longing for adventures in Victorian London. Barker is much more interesting than the average detective with a past, and his exhaustive training of Llewelyn is fun to watch. All the following books in this series are worthwhile, but aside from this one, I particularly enjoy "To Kingdom Come", with its explosives and anarchy.
Brian55 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I was lent this book by Brenda (Bashford Methodist), which she recommeded. I really enjoyed this and suggested to my book club. The tow main characters are very similar to Holmes and Watson, but enough significant differences to not make me think I was reading Arthur Connan Doyle. I will be looking for some time to read his next installment.
dianaleez on LibraryThing 26 days ago
"Some Danger Involved" is the debut novel in Will Thomas' Cyrus Barker/Thomas Llewelyn Victorian mystery series. Set in the gritty streets of London, the story is told from the perspective of Thomas, who at the story's onset is contemplating suicide. Twenty-two, unemployed, recently released from prison, and mourning the recent death of his young wife, Thomas on first glance isn't the stuff of which heroes are made. However, he is an absolutely charming character - his basic honesty and integrity, his naivete, his modesty and unassuming style, and even his very Welshness - make him a delightful foil for the sophisticated and confident Barker. Barker hires Thomas as his assistant and the two set out to prevent a pogrom in the Jewish Quarter. Will Thomas knows his period, and Victorian London comes alive. The mystery element is carefully plotted and entirely satisfactory, but it is the characters that keep this novel alive. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
cmbohn on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I'm home miserable with a cold and possible strep throat, feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had something to think about besides trying to breathe. Then I look next to my bed, and here is this book, just waiting for such a chance.Thomas Llewellyn is fresh out of Oxford Prison and down to his last penny. He spots an ad for a job in the paper "Assistant to prominent enquiry agent. Some danger involved in performance of duty." Thomas is just desperate enough to answer such an ad. After a rather unexpected interview, he get the job. Almost immediately he is thrown into the investigation of a murder. A Jew has been found in crucified in the ghetto, a scripture scrawled next to the body, and the slogan "Anti-Jewish League." Could this be the beginning of a pogrom against the Jews of England?It's funny how sometimes, everything you read seems to tie together. I'm not sure if that's because it really is all related, or because your mind just starts looking for connections. But this one seemed to tie in neatly with The Chosen especially well. It is set much later than the mystery and in New York, not London, but the strong setting of the Jewish community is well done in both book.Full of adventure, fast paced, good characters. This is the first in the series, and I will definitely look for the next one. I'm not sure if this counts as a teen book, as I've seen it shelved there in the library, but it would be good for either teens or adults. 4 stars
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing 26 days ago
In this book, the characters are what drive the story with their quirky behaviors and eccentricities. The plot is quite good and easy to follow, and the atmosphere created by the author is rich. Set in Victorian England, the book is close to a Holmes/Watson combination but the characters have more of an attitude and are much more physical than Conan Doyle's great pair. Having said this, I will add that if readers aren't interested in Victorian mystery stories, then this may not be for them. However, if you are addicted to this type of thing, as am I, this is a great addition to your library.summary, no spoilers:A young man, Thomas Llewellyn, is down on his luck, considering suicide when he sees an ad for an assistant that states that there is "some danger involved" in the job. He realizes with his past he is likely not to be hired, but to his surprise, the opposite is true. His new employer, Cyrus Barker (an enigmatic man in his own right), is an enquiry agent (he doesn't like the term "detective). Together the two of them take on a bizarre case of murder, where the victim looks much like Jesus in famous paintings and is found crucified.I very much enjoyed this book, and am currently reading the second in the series, To Kingdom Come. Recommended for those who enjoy mysteries set in this period; others looking for a cozy-type read may not find this one to their liking.
vernefan on LibraryThing 26 days ago
*Sherlock with a Twist*I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a Victorian mystery as much as I did this one. What talent the author has to evoke the reader's feelings of being right there with the characters of the time and landscape of London's turn-of-the-century era. This first installment's plot has a Jewish theme to it and I can honestly say that I found it all very interesting. I learned a lot about Jewish culture and customs that I had not known before. I believe that the author's true talent lies in character development. Great detail and slow build up of information has the reader absolutely loving the two key players of Cyrus Barker the investigator, and his new assistant Llewelyn. Barker is sort of a Sherlock-like character only not so serious, and is a man with an interesting background and unique hobbies and penchants. His love for zen gardening, gourmet food, weapons, books and an adorable Pekinese dog will have the reader spellbound of his character alone. To accompany this investigating duet is a colorful menagerie of background players that we will see in future installments as regulars. We have a Jewish Butler with an attitude, a Chinese gardener, a persnickety French chef, restaurant owners, snitches, Scotland Yard's finest and that cute little attack dog named Harm. This array of characters and blend of superior murder mystery plot, combined with action, romance, and humor, leaves this book ready to be unwrapped like a gift to enjoy from start to finish. I read this in one day and can't wait to pick up book two. This is a very promising series in the making. Hats off to the author for an outstanding performance!
lkernagh on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Thomas Llewelyn is a man facing what may be his last day. A recent Oxford student, Oxford ex-convict and by his own calculations 'unemployable', Llewelyn has decided that if he doesn't obtain employment that day, he will swan dive into the Thames and end it all. The live or die job that he is applying for is assistant to a prominent enquiry agent, a.k.a detective. As per the advertisement, some typing and shorthand required and some danger involved in the performance of duties. Luckily for both Llewelyn and readers alike, he passes the rather unusual interview process and secures the job as assistant to Cyrus Barker.With 'on the job training' provided, Barker quickly involves his new assistant to help solve a murder - by crucifixion - of a Jewish immigrant and scholar, Louis Pokrzywa, in the Jewish ghetto of London. Told from the point of view of Llewelyn, the reader follows Llewelyn's educational learning curve - understandably steep at times - in his new work environment as assistant to a 19th century P.I., as well as the case at hand. As part of his employment package, Llewelyn is provided with room and board in the home of his employer where we get to meet a unique cast of characters - Barker's dry sarcastic Jewish butler Mac, the temperamental French chef Dummolard, a Chinese gardener and the ankle-biting territorial Pekinese watch dog Harm.Racing through the streets of London with an enigma of a boss - there is more to Barker than meets the eye - to try and solve the murder and hopefully stop a potential pogrom in its tracks, this story was a great mix of Victorian England flavor, religious and historical background, excellent characters and unexpected twists and turns to the case to keep the reader, or at least kept me, guessing right to the very end. A great Victorian murder mystery to curl up with.
cathyskye on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas is the first mystery set in the Victorian East End of London and featuring Private Enquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn.Thomas could have those guys from "Hee Haw" singing an endless chorus of "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all". Raised in poverty in Wales, Thomas showed a keen intelligence in school. So much so that Lord Glendinning paid for a year's tuition at Oxford. He fell in love and married in secret, since it was against university rules. Wrongly accused of theft, Thomas spent eight months in Oxford Prison. Newly released and a widower, Thomas cannot find work with his sort of résumé. He sees an ad in a London newspaper calling for an assistant, "some danger involved", packs his cardboard suitcase and finds himself standing in a long line outside Barker's offices. If he gets the job, fine. If he doesn't, well...he's going to jump off the nearest bridge.Luckily for us, he gets the job. Barker is definitely an "odd duck". A big man, he wears dark-lensed spectacles even indoors. He has an Oriental garden, a Japanese bathhouse, and teaches martial arts when he's not out on a case. He has a Jewish butl er and a French chef. He is a bibliophile who owns thousands of books. And Barker has just been called in on a new case involving the death by crucifixion of a young Jewish scholar.I knew nothing about Will Thomas. By reading the book, I would've thought he was an experienced British writer, for I felt as if I were living in the East End of London as I turned each page. He's not British. Will Thomas is a librarian from Oklahoma, and Some Danger Involved is his first book! He immersed me in the Jewish culture of Aldgate in London as thousands of refugees flood into the city from European pogroms. He teased me with glimpses into the strange life and behavior of Cyrus Barker. He had me puzzling over whodunit. And he had me laughing at an ill-tempered Pekingese named Harm and the dry wit of Thomas Llewelyn as he tried to survive his on-the-job training.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How wonderful to have a talented author who realizes you don' t have to have profanity and sex to write a good book. Love the eccentric characters, and dry wit. Keep up the good work, Mr. Thomas
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Amanda84 More than 1 year ago
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.
JulesJB More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable. The characters are well-developed and the pace is just right. I can't wait to read others in the series.
HoneyBH More than 1 year ago
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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