Dodger of the Revolution

Written by James Benmore
Review by Nancy Henshaw

Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, Fagin’s top thief and burglar, is having a bad time, slave to the opium poppy, his precious hands trembling and useless. No wonder the beautiful Lily Lennox has given him the elbow. Now he has a chance of redemption. Handsome mulatto siblings, Celeste and Jerome Lamoreaux need this greatest of cracksmen to retrieve an item proving their right to a fortune: a certificate held in Paris by the terrifying Hugo Defarge.

The year is 1848. Dodger, his young assistant Nick, Celeste, and Jerome arrive in Paris as revolutionaries pour onto the streets and the barricades go up to confront the National Guard for the first day of vicious bloody conflict. From the height of the barricades, Defarge performs miracles of killing and Dodger must be there, keeping track of the man who wears the keys to a fortune round his waist. The dreadful day ends, but hate-filled violence still prevails with lost children, insane heroics and understandable cowardice tumbling over one another. Our hero’s infiltration of the Tuileries is a highlight, the guards stupified by his own opium stew. There are few danger-free moments for Dodger, but whenever there are, he contemplates Celeste; she is disingenuous and untrustworthy, but to what purpose? Dodger seems unlikely to receive his promised reward in Paris. Will he find a priceless gift in London?

Dodger’s cockney crim-cant is entertaining and his grammar unconventional but consistent. Readers should enjoy the author’s crafty references to Dickens, Victor Hugo and Dumas and try to spot as many as they can.