The Irregular: H.B. Lyle
A strong undercurrent is brewing and it’s right in plain sight but no one is taking notice except Veronica Kell the head of counter intelligence. Two agents down and their deaths suspect and then a constable murdered and things heat up but the under secretary and his superior refuse to acknowledge that the Germans might be planning something and the deaths are just the beginning.
Meet Wiggins and his oddball personality that most would find quirky yet endearing. Meet the irregulars a band of misfits that come to the aid of others when needed. As the author takes us back to his youth and why Wiggins is smart, crafty and gets himself into difficult spots yet manages at times to come away scathed but alive. Watch as he encounters Sherlock Holmes who uses him at a young age for special jobs that adults could not pull off and now in the present when Kell wants his help he at first refuses until his best friend, Bill is killed, he visits Holmes and is instructed to contact Kell. Wiggins is elusive and cunning manages to get into places unseen and Kell finding him in his office unannounced lets readers know this should be interesting. Meeting to talk about the job set in a secret place, Wiggins takes us to his world with the irregular and we meet SAL and several others. Wiggins is smart and streetwise and meeting his friends adds spunk and spark to the story as they are tough and likeable street kids that worked for Holmes as his eyes and ears at one point. Wiggins moves ahead and is now still streetwise but in an older version of his youth. Like everyone else he needs money to pay his bills and earn a living so working for a loan shark at the start of the novel is one thing but feeling sorry for those that owe money does not fit the profile of what he’s doing. What’s great about him is he is smart, perceptive and definitely strong and an army vet at least on paper, The British government as the novel unfolds is beginning to hear chatter about the formation of a secret service which is how we get to know more about Vernon Kell who is working as a youth with Winston Churchill to form this intelligence network hoping to learn more about foreign spies and stop them before things get out of hand. Agents are needed and Wiggins would be perfect for the role as he is street smart and a definite tough guy. Holmes advises Kell to enlist him but Wiggins does not do official he says until something happens to change it all which is why he is meeting Kell in a secret place in order to avenge the death of his friend Bill. Working for his Majesty’s government does not fit his profile or desire until Bill’s death. Killed in a shootout on the streets of London, Wiggins realizes that working as one of Kell’s spies might solve Kell’s problems and his as well as Kell has huge resources that he can avail himself of in order to do his own investigation of his friend’s death and hopefully lead him to the killers.
Wiggins got a job as a watchman at Woolwich Arsenal and the leak at Woolwich was confirmed. This salesman
Named MacDiarmid occasionally visited German factories as a guest. It was one of these factories namely the Krupp munitions works in Hamburg that this man noted the superheating of shell casings. Finding this odd or unusual he reported it to Bethell upon returning to London. This technique was invented at Woolwich and was a secret until
Krupp knew. The first constable killed named Leyton must have learned about the leak and the source and that the supply line of information must be opened and might be why he was killed. Wiggins appears while Kell is reading this information and the journey for answers begins. Pages 89-91 set up what Kell wants of Wiggins and continues with a woman named Bella whose interaction with Wiggins leads readers in another direction. Bella and Wiggins would have a strange alliance and her father’s demands quite alarming. Why would she agree to his demands and her sister was sacrificed too.
We meet Wiggins working at Woolwich and then meeting Kell about the connection to Krupp. Kell needed protection as his car was chased and his house under guard and his wife a suffragette and their marriage in question. Sir Henry Ewart is the minister major general and his boss and the undersecretary or soapy to his friends. One man named Churchill took this seriously and the worries about the Germans would prove real. The time period might be the 1900’s but the events seem like they could happen today while Kell is still creating his services to serve England and aboard obstacles stand in his way from the rich who he finds that some upper class people used in high level government work as we get to know them are not really suited for this type of dirty work where being a spy requires intelligence, ingenuity and smarts. The author reveals that there might be some evidence of German activity stealing secret information about British movements and activities focuses upon British military capabilities. As stated using the upper class men to do the fieldwork and surveillance, as spies might be why they are killed and no information of any relevant kind found.
Before presenting this information you need to preface it with why mental illness is such a grave issue today and why many people often refuse to acknowledge this disability and will not get treatment or even worse end their lives. The government needs to put more resources into hospitals that deal with these types of disorders and explaining why you included it in your collection might bring this to the forefront. This section can even stand alone as a resource for people to understand each type of mental illness. Each illness needs to be bolded and some of the people have to be placed differently.
Moving back and forth from the past to the present Wiggins takes us inside the group who is against the British, working as an agent or spy, chancing getting hurt and then finding out more about Jax a street urchin who they seem to feel knows something about whose orchestrating what is happening in the streets. Added in Peter and the anarchists want Wiggins to help with their cause but he wants to meet the man in charge knowing he’s responsible for his friend’s death.
Getting to know Constance, Kell’s wife you wonder why he even bothers to stay with her with her arrogance and rude manner of embarrassing him every chance she gets yet seeming enchanted by Wiggins. His superiors still want prove of the Germans and then things take a different turn.
In the middle of everything we learn about Bela and her clever way of dealing with her situation you want to get up and applause her ingenuity. Kell is constantly rescuing Wiggins from prison and the encounter with the man behind the murders is about to come to a head as Constance, Kell’s wife is more observant than most and her understanding of why he should not short sell her is quite interesting and she’s right. Each encounter has Wiggins reflecting on Holmes and how he advised him to build a network of friends and how he might need them in the present as well.
Sometimes what you think about a person is what they want you to believe. As the truth behind the murders comes front and center Kell faces the ultimate betrayal of them all and it’s up to him and Wiggins to clear the decks and get it all squared away. With the Anarchists after Wiggins and not believing that he’s with them someone he thought cared for him is the biggest traitor of them all.
The ending will allow readers to know that Wiggins just might be around for more adventures but where, with whom and will Kell ever get the proof needed that shows he was right about the Germans and what their intent really is with all of the riots, the demonstrations, murders and the leaks? Author H.B. Lyle has created a character in Wiggins that is not only filled with humor, spunk and tenacity but is so resourceful we all hope he gets to carry some better protection next time. Deceptions well created, lies planned in the right place and the killers knowing his every move will Wiggins survive? Will he avenge his friend’s death? Wait until you witness the explosive conclusion. Each character is unique but the one who stands out is the one we all will come to know and love as THE IRREGULAR?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ network/MJ Magazine
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