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Down Under Donovan: 08/02/15
Down Under Donovan by Edgar Wallace is a mystery set in Europe in the late 1920s. As it was a contemporary novel when published, there's no specter of 20-20 hindsight. Meaning there's no morality play or message about the excesses of the rich, etc.
So what is it about? Well, it's about a race horse and the usual race course shenanigans that show up in a race track based mystery. There are also missing codes, lost perhaps during a train derailment. There's some espionage, and other mayhem.
Put another way, it reads like the horse racing bits of A View to A Kill, the 1985 Bond film that was fleshed out from the short story, "From a View to a Kill." The opening chase scene in Paris pretty much eats up the short story, so more plot was needed. Now Edgar Wallace's book isn't credited but as he was the most popular crime writer in England at the start of the 20th century, I'm sure his stories were familiar with the writers.
But in 2015 to an un initiated reader, there was something lacking to Down Under Donovan. There were a lot characters and a lot of loose ends. There's a haphazard romance involving the scientist's daughter that seems thrown in because it was expected, not because it was actually needed. And that's how much of the book feels: a by the numbers mystery adventure involving a race horse and a missing formula.