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The Mystery of Tunnel 51
Wallace of the Secret Service series – Book I
Alexander Wilson

Allison and Busby
23 April 2015 / ISBN 9780749018054
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Major Elliot is glad that his mission is at an end. All he has to do now is hand over the list to the Viceroy of India, and he can go home. Unfortunately before he can do either he is killed in a railway carriage and the list is stolen. The only person for the job is Sir Leonard Wallace, the dashing Chief of the Intelligence Department.

This is a reprint of this forgotten classic, first published in 1928. Set in India, the title mystery is a bit of a misnomer as there is not a lot of mystery in who killed the major, more how it was done and how they can be apprehended. Instead I would call this an adventure, very much in the Boys Own tradition featuring the stylish Leonard and his trusty sidekick Major Brien. They always get their man (or men) and never let anything get in their way or get them down. Leonard only has one arm but this does not hold him up much, and there is a feeling that whatever happens he will bob up smiling. This might seem naïve in a modern novel but here makes for relaxing reading, a relic of times past when people expected a gentler and more uplifting story. To its detriment this is a rather longer tale than most of its contemporaries and despite the fact there is always something going on I felt that it could have stood some editing and been all the better for it. Another thing to point out is that this is nearly ninety years ago and peoples’ attitudes towards people from other countries or the lower orders was very different to now. For comic relief there is Batty, an amusing manservant and various encounters with funny natives, rascally natives or just natives with all that implies. In this world servants are always comical and natives always foreign, but even if this grates somewhat reading a novel like this gives the reader a more accurate glimpse of the period than most historical novels. This is an entertaining tale for many reasons and the first in a series of nine, all of which I intend to read.

Reviewed 2015