Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Adventures of Augustus Fuller - James Rickon

    2011; 242 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Acton - Adventure.  Overall Rating : 6½*/10.

    London, 1904.  Anarchists have a new and formidable foe to deal with – Special Constable Augustus Fuller of Scotland Yard.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re in the city, amassing arms, or out in the countryside, developing new weapons.  If the peace and well-being of England are being threatened, Fuller is probably on the trail.

What’s To Like...
    The Adventures of Augustus Fuller is a set of three novellas, each roughly 80 pages in length.  The storylines are imaginative; the protagonist is resourceful and successful, yet he’s not over-the-top like, say, Dirk Pitt.  I like my heroes to be believable.  The world-building is adequately done.  I didn’t feel “immersed” in (slightly-post) Victorian England, but the backdrop was smoothly blended in with the story, and I didn’t spot any distracting historical errors.

     Fuller lives on Chertsey Street.  I’m not sure what city it’s in, but my favorite place in England is Chertsey, so that’s a personal thumbs-up.  The stories are all independent of each other, and a couple words about each are in order.

    Casus Belli.  A straight-up adventure, where the action starts immediately.  A fun read, but there are showing/telling issues at both the beginning and end.

    The Aldbury Devil.  A “Hound of the Baskervilles” sort of setting, but more Poe-ish in style.  An interesting mystery/horror tale, yet it doesn’t fit in with the other two stories, and unanswered questions dangle at the end.

    The Terror Weapons.  A clever blend of adventure and intrigue that builds nicely towards an exciting climax, only to have it air-brushed out and then presented as an epilogue.  Why tell when you set up events to be shown so deftly? 

Kewlest New Word...
    Chinwag : a light, informal chat.
Kindle Details...
    The Adventures of Augustus Fuller sells for $2.99 at Amazon, as does its sequel, Masquerade, which I have not read, and which came out earlier this year.

    The month of June continued its progress and with it brought a run of good weather.  Boys played cricket on mown grass, men in boaters messed about on the river and young couples took excursions to picnic in the countryside.  The newspapers offered their daily commentary to those who cared and the millions who did not.  (loc. 2263 )

    A knock came at the door and Mrs. Teal appeared to ask if he would be dining in that evening.  Fuller opened his mouth to reply but instead asked a question.  “If your son had been kidnapped, Mrs. Teal, what would you do?”
    “You don’t have a son, do you Mr. Fuller?” the honest woman replied with a motherly smile.
    “Hypothetically, Mrs. Teal.”
    “Oh hypotechnically speaking are we?”   (loc. 2457)

“I mean, who murders an anarchist?”  (loc. 252)
    I’m guessing that TAoAF was James Rickon’s debut book, and that the three stories were penned in the order they’re given.  If so, this was a decent first effort, but not without some weaknesses.  Besides the aforementioned telling/showing issues, none of the stories had any plot twists, which meant no surprises and very little tension.

    There’s also the matter of defining the genre of this series.  Casus Belli is a pure this-worldly adventure.  The Aldbury Devil introduces other-worldly creatures.  The Terror Weapons mixes in some futuristic (for then) technology devices.  Which one typifies the coming stories?

    It could be that James Rickon was tweaking the genres before he himself chose one.  It also could be that this is answered in the sequel.  But for now, TAoAF is a curious and uneven mix of historical fiction, sleuthing, action, and paranormal.

    Which is not to say it isn’t a fun read, with the potential to become a fascinating series once the above issues are resolved.  6½ Stars.

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