Friday, 8 December 2017

Clare Reviews: The Irregular by H.B. Lyle

The Irregular: A Different Class of SpyTitle: The Irregular
Author: H.B. Lyle
Format: Hardback
Source: Received for an honest review
Pages: 277
Rating: 3/5
Blurb: London 1909: The British Empire seems invulnerable. But Captain Vernon Kell, head of counter-intelligence at the War Office, knows better. In Russia, revolution; in Germany, an arms race; in London, the streets are alive with foreign terrorists. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters he needs proof of a threat - and to find that, he needs an agent he can trust. The playing fields of Eton may produce good officers, but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans.
Kell needs Wiggins. Trained as a child by Kell's old friend Sherlock Holmes - he led a gang of urchin investigators known as the Baker Street Irregulars - Wiggins is an ex-soldier with an expert line in deduction and the cunning of a born street fighter. 'The best', says Holmes.
Wiggins turns down the job - he 'don't do official'. But when his best friend is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins sees that the role of secret agent could take him towards his sworn revenge.
Tracking the Russian gang, Wiggins meets a mysterious beauty called Bela, who saves his life. Working for Kell, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the munitions factory.


What Worked:

The concept of a Baker Street Boy all grown up was obviously a big draw for me! And I did really enjoy Wiggins' character for the most part. Holmes himself even makes a brief appearance which was interesting.
Bela was a side character I really enjoyed. I loved her whole story and background. She was interesting from the moment she first appeared and the more I learned about her, the more I loved her.
London. I was born in London and grew up there (though I now live in Sunny Devon) so I love when books properly represent London, the grittiness and the greatness. And that was definitely so here. London felt very well realised which was a joy to read.
The mysteries were compelling although at times didn't fully grab my attention. And yeah, mysteries. Which didn't super work for me.

What Didn't Work:
As I said there were two mysteries running alongside each other. Sometimes I love this. Here I did not. I kept getting the two mysteries confused (which may be my own stupidity) and would sometimes forget which one Wiggins was investigating at any one time. The problem was that the antagonists and the method of investigation were just too similar and it was easy for my mind to slip.
I didn't like the majority of the characters. Wiggins and Bela were good but I often found myself frustrated or bored with the rest of the characters. Kell especially wasn't my cup of tea (although his wife was pretty awesome actually).
The writing style bugged me a lot. The story often slipped into the past with no warning so it would sometimes take me a paragraph or two to realise that actually we were reading about child-Wiggins now. Part of this was due to the fact there was no break between current-Wiggins and past-Wiggins but part of it was because there wasn't much differentiation in character either. They thought and acted the same. 

Overall Thoughts:
This wasn't an outstanding read and I doubt I will be re-reading it but I may pick up future books in the series depending on their plot. I do think this is a book that deserves to be mentioned more and it shows promise for the future but it didn't quite work for me. 

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