by Eleanor Updale
If it weren’t for the special medical interest of the prison doctor the young man—number 493—lying wounded on his pallet might not survive. While recovering in prison he thinks up a master plan to become rich, and once freed he sets about making it happen. Using a name taken from a tool company, he soon becomes Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? and is off to the start of a career he could never have imagined as an imprisoned orphan.
At first the novel is mostly about Montmorency’s clever way of thieving (which I won’t spoil for you) and his daily switch between the gentleman called Montmorency and the street-smart servant Scarper, which itself is interesting. Soon, however, Montmorency’s wealth brings him into the luxuries and delights of the upper class (his first opera, for instance), and the company of other gentlemen. Upon making the acquaintance of one George Fox-Selwyn, Montmorency is offered the job of spying for the British government, which is the beginning of his profession. Throughout the series Montmorency and his friends and allies solve every type of case imaginable—from stolen scientific specimens, to murders, to a plot to exterminate Europe’s monarchs.
Although the characters are clever, silly, witty, or secretive, their emotions are sometimes quite hidden, but somehow the series can still give you the giggles or nearly have you in tears over the events that take place. And though there are a few dull bits, on the whole the series is filled with exciting adventures and the last book ends with a bang that knocks the wind out of you (unless, of course, there might eventually be a fifth novel).
Solve the cases along with Mr. Montmorency in Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?, Montmorency and the Assassins: Master, Criminal, Spy?, and Montmorency’s Revenge, which chronicle the rest of his mastermind plans.
Monday, December 31, 2007
by Eleanor Updale