27 November 2008
Forgotten Books: THE COUNCIL OF JUSTICE, Edgar Wallace
Another contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books theme.
One of the earliest books recorded in my "little green book" is THE COUNCIL OF JUSTICE by Edgar Wallace (1875-1932). He was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and numerous articles in newspapers and journals.
This was the second in a series called Four Just Men and was published in 1908. Prior to 1902 Edgar Wallace had worked as war correspondent (Boer War), and a newspaper journalist. The series marked his first foray into crime fiction. He is probably better known for his later books and short stories and as the co-creator of King Kong.
There are crimes for which no punishment is adequate, offences that the written law cannot efface. Herein lies the justification for The Council of Justice - a meeting of great and passionless intellects. These men are indifferent to world opinion; they relentlessly wage their wits and cunning against powerful underworld organisations, against past masters of villainy and against minds equally astute. To breakers of the unwritten laws they deal death!
There's a review of Four Just Men at Bookends. The reviewer obviously enjoyed it:
It demands great leaps of imagination to accept the elaborate preparations Leon and Poiccart make to get Manfred out of the jail, and the corresponding climax. But it is precisely this kind of plotting that characterises Edgar Wallace and more so, the four just men. As with most crime fiction, the “what” of the ending is rarely a surprise; it is the “how” that makes it enthralling reading. And The Council really scores on that count. The way Manfred escapes from prison is as unbelievable as it is riveting. And that alone makes The Council worth reading.
Unfortunately all I have to remind me of it is the fact that I recorded it in my book and that it was the first Edgar Wallace book that I ever read.
It is said that Wallace was the first British crime novelist to use policemen as his protagonists, rather than brilliant amateur sleuths as most other writers of the time did. Most of his novels However are apparently independent stand-alone stories. For some reason I thought he was American not British. In England in the 1920s Wallace was said to be the second biggest seller after the Bible.
THE COUNCIL OF JUSTICE is available in its entirety (as far as I can see) as an e-book to read online. Or you can buy it for a small cost as a downloadable Adobe e-book, or a Microsoft one. A free rtf version is also available.
More information about Edgar Wallace.