A Very English Agent
By (author) Julian Rathbone
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Very English Agent by Julian Rathbone
Book DescriptionDwarfish Charlie Boylan carries a loaded pistol into the House of Commons. A can of worms waiting to be opened, he was a police spy for nearly forty years. He wants a pension and what he knows will get it! Did he, between Waterloo and Wellington's funeral, cause the Peterloo riot to happen? Was it Charlie who fingered the Cato Street Conspirators? Did Shelley really drown by accident? And at the opening of the Great Exhibition was it he who saved the Queen from being blown up? With dark undertones in its revelations of the orchestrated state repression that followed the Napoleonic Wars, A Very English Agent drives a horse, well, a donkey and cart, through the early years of the nineteenth century in a rumbustious, funny, sexy, teeming novel, worthy of the times it describes.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780349115085
(198mm x 126mm x 28mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 3-Jul-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Julian Rathbone
Mutiny, Paperback (January 2008)
* A devastating portrait of a love affair played out at the height of one of the most violent episodes in British colonial history
Joseph, Paperback (November 1999)
* Brilliant recreation of the Peninsula war.
Last English King, Paperback (August 1998)» View all books by Julian Rathbone
*A magnificent and rich historical novel set around the events leading up to the Norman invasion.
UK Kirkus Review » Charlie Boylan - social chameleon, midget and one-time master of espionage for the Home Office - arrives at the Palace of Westminster armed with a pistol, determined to collect the wages he claims are still due to him following the death of the Duke of Wellington. Promptly arrested and incarcerated in the freezing Pentonville prison, Charlie sets about writing his potentially damaging memoirs to prove his role in bringing about some of the most important historic events England has ever witnessed. His tale begins on the bloody fields of Waterloo, then onto Manchester and the instigation of the Peterloo massacre, back to London and the Cato conspirators, setting sail to Livorno to rid the world of the great passionate poet Shelley, and finally back to England and his greatest claim of all - saving the Queen from assassination at the Great Exhibition. This is the latest in Rathbone's fine string of historical novels, and it rattles along with plenty of swash and buckle throughout. Weaselly yet strangely likeable, Rathbone's unconventional hero, aptly named 003, is infinitely more original in character than most spies in literature. The novel is well researched, vivid in the scenes it depicts, and at turns gruesome and hilarious, and Rathbone injects little twists and turns here and there to keep us guessing, his relentless hold on the imagination of the reader never easing up until the very last page. Highly recommended. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » The latest historical romp from veteran thriller/detective storywriter Rathbone (Kings of Albion, 2002, etc.) jauntily exposes the underside of 19th-century parliamentary "reform." Visions of George MacDonald Fraser's affable antihero Harry Flashman may dance through reader's heads as they sample the exploits and lies of Rathbone's protagonist Charlie Boylan. Not your typical hero, Charlie stands four feet eight inches and is almost unbecomingly hirsute (though impressively proportioned otherwise, as numerous wenches cheerfully attest). The tale begins, quite winningly, with Charlie's misadventures in the trenches during the Battle of Waterloo. Flash-forward several decades: the Napoleonic Wars are long since concluded, and we encounter Charlie in prison, after he had marched into Whitehall with a loaded pistol, demanding withheld payment for his services as a secret agent (known as Agent 003, in a witty nod to Ian Fleming). This very entertaining if somewhat scattered tale continues with generously detailed accounts of how Charlie industriously altered the course of history, after having "saved Europe from barbarism" while still a hormonally driven adolescent. In addition to committing various murders and masterminding almost as many atrocities, Charlie has sturdily prevented the assassination of Queen Victoria, arranged the death by drowning of dangerous "radical" poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and-for reasons best left to the reader to uncover-accompanied Charles Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle. The only thing that significantly mars the fun is Rathbone's relentlessly jokey tone. But Charlie-either an amazingly resilient little big man or a "misshapen troll," depending on your politics-almost casually blackmails miscreants posing as public servants, outwits "interrogators" assigned to monitor his activities, and circumvents efforts to prevent the publication of his scurrilous "memoirs." Over-the-top, enjoyably R-rated entertainment from an old pro who appears to be having the time of his life. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Julian Rathbone
Julian Rathbone was the author of many highly-acclaimed novels. Two of which (KING FISHER LIVES and JOSEPH) were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He died in February 2008.
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