Genre: vintage classic
Plot Summary: Reuben Argels is a man with a past behind him and a future ahead of him. Having been a part of Moran Chamber’s syndicate in America, he turned traitor and was largely responsible for putting that man in prison. But there is no living the straight and narrow for Argel. He promptly benefits from his treason and moves on to greener grass, this time to the financial fields of England. But maybe his old enemy isn’t behind bars like Argels thinks. And Chambers has many friends who are willing to exact revenge for the man who did him wrong. What will become of Reuben Argels? And is Violet– the sweet, sensible woman so ready to help him– really who she says she is?
My Book Review: Continuing making my way through the works of Oppenheim…
To be honest, I prefer other EPO novels to this novel of crime syndicate members. The plot sounds intriguing enough, but I got lost among all the stock exchange jargon (dated, and foreign to me). It did, as EPO stories go, keep me guessing as to the motives behind certain characters. But it was hard to find sympathy for the main character, Reuben, since he was neither a goodie or a baddie. He professes a love for Chamber’s lover Ambouyna (a name I still have no idea how to pronounce), but yet pursues Miss Violet Withers on the side. In fact, while admitting to her that he doesn’t love her, he asks if she would fill in for him since he can’t have whom he really wants? Sure, that’s the way to win any girl’s heart!
Actually, Violet Withers was my favorite character from the book. She easily balances a personality of modesty and mystery. I loved a couple of quotes surrounding her sensibility:
“Lots of girls do things they don’t want to because they have to. I’m not one of them…. If I get to like you well enough, I shall certainly allow you to call me by my Christian name, and possibly to kiss me occasionally. If I don’t, I shan’t. Believe me,… I am much more worth kissing because I have such queer ideas.”
SPOILER ALERT: It’s painful to watch Argels slowly being dragged to the bottom all the way to the end of the book. He’s sent over the edge, but at the last minute is saved by his enemy of all people– on purpose. And then they shake hands and a check is written and all is honkey dorey. I don’t know. It just didn’t fit together right at the end. There’s all this build up of suspense because of the hatred of these two enemies, neither of which you particularly want to side with, but then suddenly it all disappears and Chambers has a change of heart for no reason. It just didn’t make sense and the story fell flat on its face for me. END OF SPOILER.
So if you like the idea of characters existing in a glamorous world of the 1930’s, full of crime and blackmail, you might have your next favorite novel (which you can read for free here). But if you’re more plot-oriented (like me), you might want to skip past this one.
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