by David Christie Murray
Despite giving away large elements of the plot in his narrator's preface to the novel, Murray's years of experience as a journalist and foreign correspondent enable him to grab the reader's attention from the start of the first chapter, and carry him or her through a story which "teems with hairbreadth escapes and excitement of every kind" (according to the reviewer of the Morning Post). Even though we know (or think we know) how the story is going to end, there are still enough unexpected twists and turns to ensure that we carry on reading, just to see whether we're right or not.
A sample chapter of In direst peril is available to view or download by following this link.
The full text can also be read online or downloaded free of charge. It is in XHTML format, like this page. Please note the file size is 483kb and it may take some time to open-up if you choose to read it online. Downloading for reading later may be the preferred option and this can be typically achieved by calling up an option box. If you have a mouse and it is configured for left click to select, right clicking the link may give you this option. Link to the full text of In direst peril.
There are unlikely to be huge surprises in the story when the narrator, John Fyffe, carefully points out to us the comrade who is untrustworthy and bound to betray him, the foreign Countess whom he describes as "a woman with a snake's nature" and "poor old Ruffiano" who is obviously going to come to an unhappy end.
For the modern-day reader, one of the most attractive features of the novel will be John Fyffe himself who, as a bluff, honourable soldier of fortune with high principles, combines elements of the characters of Richard Hannay and Dr Watson--Hannay in his decisiveness and derring-do, Watson in his willingness to mock his own blunders and shortcomings. And, like Watson, Fyffe has an endearingly soft centre and uxorious nature: "I am prouder of having fallen in love with her [his wife] at first sight, as I did, than I should be if I had taken a city or won a pitched battle." And his final non-violent, common-sense solution to the quandary he finds himself in at the end of the novel is as charming as it is unlikely.
Page created 18 November 2002 and last
updated 18 November 2002
For your literary enquiries and comments please see the Who to contact page.
Please read the general terms and conditions and about accessibility on this site, including the use of the UK government accesskeys system.