The Red Ribbon: An Irregular Spy Thriller (Irregular 2)

Written by H. B. Lyle
Review by Edward James

The Red Ribbon is the sequel to The Irregular, which saw Capt. Vernon Kell setting up Britain’s miniscule Secret Service in 1908. By 1910 its future is still by no means secure, and Kell needs to pull off another coup. He still has only one effective agent, Wiggins, code name OO.

Vernon Kell was the real-life founder of the British Secret Service (MI5) but, as with The Irregular, this book is a mix of historical fact, the author’s imagination and creatures from other authors’ imaginations. So we have Winston Churchill alongside Agent OO and Sherlock Holmes. The pivotal events of the story, the Siege of Sydney Street and the great suffragette demonstration in Westminster Square, are actual historical events, but the rest of the story is far-fetched by any standards. But then this is an espionage fantasy with an Edwardian lower-class James Bond. Like Bond, Wiggins is presented as a loveable rogue, although he gets more high-minded at times. A good espionage adventure which reminds us that Edwardian England was not a golden age of peace and harmony.