1901. Queen Victoria is dying. In this, the fourth of Montmorency’s adventures, Inspector Howard suspects a possible anarchist plot to bomb her funeral—a prime target, as all the crowned heads of Europe will be there. He asks the help of Montmorency and his friends. Someone must infiltrate the anarchist movement, and who better than Frank Fox-Selwyn, who saved the day in the previous adventure. But Frank is known to the anarchists, so he needs a new identity and, worryingly, he chooses ‘Scarper’, once Montmorency’s quick-witted, but amoral, alter ego.
Dr Robert Farcett, who is suffering from a nervous breakdown and about to undergo treatment, agrees to swap identities with Frank: the anarchists will never think of looking for ‘Frank’ in a mental hospital. Then a stranger is spotted asking questions….
There is another worry: Frank is over-impetuous, and his beloved uncle, George Fox-Selwyn, was murdered by the anarchist Moretti. Will Frank put his desire for vengeance before the danger to his country?
This is a book which would benefit from a preface outlining The Story So Far, or at least a cast of characters with a brief explanation of each, as Lindsey Davis does in her Falco series. Even I, who have read the previous books, got muddled at the beginning as to who was who and what was going on, hardly surprising as the series covers 26 years and the characters’ relationships have developed over that time.
However, once the story gets going, it zips along at a tremendous pace and there are enough twists and turns and moral dilemmas to keep the readers on the edge of their seats. I particularly liked the way that modern technology— the telegraph and the telephone—and the Magic Shows, so popular at the time, had their parts to play in the plot.
Recommended for 13 plus.