The Captain’s Table
This is the second in the Bella Wallis series: Bella is an attractive widow, who writes thrilling and highly successful tales under the pseudonym of Henry Ellis Margam. Once again, Bella gets involved in a rather unpleasant imbroglio, which she uses as inspiration for a plot in her fiction. Bella, her cultured inamorato Philip Westland, and her team of rough-diamond but salt-of-the-earth assistants, have to tackle some particularly nasty villains – one of whom, Robert Judd, is out to steal some hugely valuable pearls belonging to Sir William Skillane as well as Skillane’s daughter, who is the beloved of William Kennett – friend to Bella and Philip. This Judd has a rather unfortunate habit of killing or nastily mutilating anyone who gets in his way, particularly females. The tale races along with a constant sort of gallows humour. There is much casual violence and sexual references aplenty, all serving to tread on the more traditional myths of Victorian moral rectitude. An easy, undemanding read, though I am puzzled about why the author chose the title as neither this nor the illustration for the cover seems to have very little resemblance to the plot.