FOUND: A Mystery Series Featuring Bartitsu
There has been some brief mention of author Will Thomas here on the forums (e.g. in the BARTITSU DOCUMENTARY THREAD), but I haven't seen much discussion of his mystery series.
Apparently Mr. Thomas writes a mystery series influenced by Rex Stout (creator of Nero Wolfe, one of my all-time favorite detectives). The setting is Victorian Great Britain, and the main character happens to be a practitioner of Bartitsu, and later Hung Gar.
Just bought the first book, and plan to post some little reviews as I progress through it.
Will is also the founder of the venerable Bartitsu Forum - http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/Bartitsu_Forum/ . He's noted in the past that his first drafts always include more detailed martial arts scenes, but his editors shorten them on the assumption that most readers aren't that into the subject. IIRC the second book in the Llewellyn/Barker series features Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny as a supporting character.
He should release the uncuut editions as ebooks! It would cost his publisher approximately.......nothing. Charge a dollar more and call it the 'authors cut.'
I asked him about that possibility once. Seems that the publishers were not particularly interested. :(
Originally Posted by lordbd
Peace favor your sword,
I'm about a quarter of the way through and have some initial thoughts on the book.
1) This book is awesome, and blends influences/genre's perfectly for me. It has a touch of Nero Wolfe (books I've loved for years), and a touch of Sir Richard Francis Burton (who I admire), and also includes fairly thoroughly researched historical context, similarly to the Max Liebermann series, but transposed on England instead of Vienna.
2) Very fast-paced, relatable main character (Llewelyn) with a quirky Burton-esque boss (Barker).
3) Not much action yet, other than a scene where Barker is training London police in a "come along" move that sounds vaguely like aikido to me, but is probably lifted from the JMA parts of Bartitsu.
How much Conan Doyle is in this one?
Also, how much Akunin?
Victorian crime novels never seem to emancipate themselves from Sherlock Holmes, lamentably, and Akunin already went pretty far with Fandorin developing near superhuman skills through Yoga...
There are so many different takes on the Sherlock Holmes characters over the years that it is utterly impossible to have a Victorian detective that is not similar in some way to one of the very very many Holmes interpretations.
Originally Posted by Hiro Protagonist
For what it's worth, I did not think "Sherlock Holmes ripoff" while reading the books.
Very unique character set.
Peace favor your sword,
Oh, absolutely. Still, there are books that bring more variation to the theme than others. For example, Alan Moore's From Hell managed to dodge the Holmes pretty well, as did that novel called "The Club Dante". :)
But, hey, in taste with books, there's little wrong or right. The books seem nice enough, so maybe I'll give them a try. :)
I would say it's more similar to a mix of Nero Wolfe (lots of quirks regarding cleanliness and money, and a description of his carefully run household) and any badass orientalist character a la Richard Francis Burton.
Basically he's a scottish detective who speaks tons of languages, and is somewhat outcast and odd to the people of his day due to his respect for and knowledge of multiple foreign cultures.
Alright so I'm at around 65% or so. Still enjoying the book, although no headway seems to have been made in the mystery as of yet. The book is pretty short and I'm reading it slower than I usually read, so the pacing feels a little strange to me, but I think thats just because I've been busy.
No real action yet aside from a few minor things, but I am loving the characters and their personalities. So far I would rank this as a middle-of-the-road historical mystery in general, but a pretty good first effort. I'm hoping the series develops as I read through some of the other books as well.
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO