Lance Maturin has been travelling across Europe for the past few months and finds himself with his two companions in Antwerp, at the “Red Flare” Club. He finds himself mesmerised by one of the dancers and when she passes a note for him, pleading for help, he finds himself drawn into a web of danger and intrigue.
Posing as the woman’s husband, she asks him to protect her from the sinister De Verviac, a violent man who is obsessed with her. But Maturin is not the only Englishman in the locale that evening – Inspector Rawlinson and Anthony Bathurst are there on the trail of two missing English individuals and the sinister League of Matthias. Before the evening is out, one of them will be dead – and the League of Matthias will strike again…
The fourteenth Anthony Bathurst mystery and once again, Brian Flynn tries something a little different. This time we seem to be in a Buchanesque-style caper as Maturin and his companion Philippa make a run for it across Belgium and back to England. Most of the tale is narrated by Maturin, but after the discovery of the body, we jump back in time for a substantial section narrated by Bathurst himself as we see his and Rawlinson’s point of view to explain how the two tales dovetail. Then it’s back to Maturin again as, to no-one’s surprise, he finds himself falling in love with Philippa, while on the run for murder.
It’s a fun tale with a very smart piece of misdirection concerning identity. The League of Matthias, the thirteenth apostle (which was the working title of the book, btw – thank you Jamie Sturgeon), is an odd sort of villainous society, but what secret society isn’t odd, to be honest? It all builds to an effective and surprising climax – there isn’t the sort of “Wow” factor that you get in some Flynn titles with the villainous revelations, but there is a genuine surprise therein nonetheless. Fingers crossed you’ll be able to see for yourselves before the year is out.
Well, that’s my 1600th blog post – back soon with more from Flynn and plenty of other stuff too. I’ve had a great week, mainly because I’ve read three Flynn books back to back – now why would I want to do that? – with another to be read very soon. Stay tuned and stay safe.