RIDER HAGGARD'S LAST STORY,
Sir Rider Haggard's last story, "Belshazzar," now published five years after his death, is not a fanciful romance of the kind by which he will be always remembered. It has no- thing of the fantastically imaginative qualities of "King Solomon's Mines" or "She" that are associated with his name above all others of the many books that he wrote, but is a historical novel on the story of Belshazzar, in which we follow the fortunes of an Egyp-
tian,' Ramose, through an adventurous career which finally brings him a prisoner, con- demned to death, in Babylon, and brought be- fore the king at the famous feast to a thou- sand of his lords. Ramose has in the earlier part of the story rescued on the field of battle a child, which grows up into a beautiful girl, and through the intrigues of the mother of Ramose she is sent to Belshazzar as a "present." Followed by Ramose in her cap- tivity the adventures come to culmination at the feast when the writing appears on the
Rider Haggard was not in his best vein when he wrote this. The field is wide and the possibilities are tremendous when we are taken to the great Babylonian city, and he is a little disappointing in the picture paint- ing when the description of its magnificence is called for. The story of the feast, however, makes up for any shortcomings, and the ac- count of the riot that followed the interpre- tation of the writing by Daniel is a splendid scene of slaughter and violence, from which Ramose and his love make their escape when the soldiers of Cyrus come pouring in to the sack of Babylon. (Stanley Paul and Co., London; Dymock's.)
"COPS AND ROBBERS," BY JOHN
Russell will always be remembered for "Where the Pavement Ends" and "Far Wan- dering Men," both notable examples of the art of short story writing, in which his themes were set in the romantic atmosphere of Pacific Islands. "Cops and Robbers" takes us to an entirely different venue and readers will be a little disappointed to find that the beachcombers and vagabonds of the South Seas are gone and in their place are criminals and policemen of America. The tales are nevertheless told with the same finish and capable workmanship, skilfully and carefully fined down in compact form. They have not the fascination of the collections in the two previous books, for there is not the picturesque colouring about the slums of a city and the people whose lives are spent within walls. They lack the spaciousness. Yet Russell's clever technique stands out equally in all. His characters are in action for the most part in murder, burglary, and blackmail, but there are a few stories of another kind, such as "The Man Who Was Dead." Here a man who had been wealthy and influential comes back from the vault in which he had lain only to find out how his regard for those around him had been misplaced, after which he will- ingly returns to his last resting place. "Violets" is a short love story that appears to have slipped in by accident. "The Burglar" is a thrilling narrative concerning a big diamond and two burglars with an anti-climax. It is in a twin pair of tales, entitled "Variations on a Theme," that the author's ability to give powerful description is at its best, the incidents being encounters between policemen and
This book can be read with interest for its vitality and forthrightness. It has much of the style of O. Henry without the humour, dealing as it does with the lives of policemen and the underworld in their grim realities, hardships, and violence. (Dymock's.)
"THE HAPPY WINDMILL," BY A. A.
Robina, guilty of making a caricature of her employer's portrait in the office where she is a typist, meets at the top of the stairs after she is summarily dismissed John Dorrell, archi- tect, and accidentally sends his top hat flying down to the bottom; and on being nearly knocked over by a car when on her way home finds that the driver is "Bumble," otherwise Rosamond Boddington, an old schoolmate; and presently she is down in the country with Bumble, starting a rabbit farm with Chin- chilla rabbits, while John is drawing archi- tectural plans in a windmill in the vicinity. There is plenty of good fun in the story. John and Bumble both talk in something of the Wodehouse style, as though earning a living is quite a secondary matter—frothy, frivolous conversations, while John is making love to Robina and plotting with Bumble to circum- vent the sale of their farm to an estate agent who wants to turn it into a subdivision. The scene is in England. (Herbert Jenkins, Ltd., London ; Angus and Robertson, Sydney.)
"THE ROMANCE OF A VERY YOUNG
Very young and very romantic is Nicholas Emsley in Winifred Boggs's new story. A clerk in Sir Hugh Cartwright's office, and of "presentable appearance," he is one night thrown into high society owing to Lady Cart- wright demanding somebody from her hus- band—anyone of "presentable appearance" would do—because one invited guest had broken his ankle, and Lady Cartwright simply refused to sit down thirteen at dinner since the time Sir Somebody Something had made a count and then, because he was thirteenth, went out and shot himself. Lady Cartwright's daughter is just dying for want of a new thrill, and here it is. She allows the young man to fall desperately in love with her, but as all the plans are laid out for her to become a duchess, Nicholas falls in much deeper than the silly flirt. His contemplated suicide is prevented by the interposition of another girl, and being so very young the "switch- over" is not difficult. It is a pleasant little story, with a spice of humour running through the account of the youth's adventures that make it easy reading. (Dymock's.)
"VENUS, LTD.," BY H. M. E. CLAMP.
The title applies to a Bond-street "beauty parlour" run by two scions of an aristocratic family that is on its beam ends for want of money while retaining its haughty excluslve ness, and through it Mary Willaby, daughter of the manufacturer of Willaby's Golden Brawn, who wants to be a lady, marries into the exclusive family. Poor Mary has an accent that is purest Cockney, which all the money she possesses cannot smooth, and her alliance with the blue-blooded Courcy-Guests is anything but a happy one until circum- stances, aided by a French maid, turn her career into a path that proves her to be equal by birth to the best. A lightly-told story with improbabilities that do not harm it for its entertaining qualities. (Hurst and Blackett,
"The Murder at the Vicarage," by Agatha Chris- tie (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"The Millionaire Tramp," by H. St. John Cooper (Robertson and Mullins, Melbourne).
"Murder to Music," by A. C. and C. Edington (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"The Essex Murders," by Vernon Loder (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"Plain Murder," by C. S. Forester (John Lane,
"Wild Horse Henderson." by Frank C. Robertson, a wild western story (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"Sunnine of Timberline," by Robert A. Bennett, a wild west thriller (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"The Trail of the Buzzard," by Robert J. Hor- ton, a story of western desperadoes (Collins, Sons, and Co., London and Sydney).
"Blowing Clear," by Joseph C. Lincoln, a Cape Cod story (D. Appleton and Co., London).
"The Lion Took Fright," by Louis Marlow, Issued by Mundanus, Ltd., a company formed to publish a novel a month in papers covers at 3/ (Victor
"Derelict," by Joseph T. Shaw, an unusual sea story (Alfred A Knopft, Ltd., London).
"Hell to Pay," by Hugh Clovely, a mystery story of London's Bohemia (Hutchinson and Co., London).
A LIBRARY LIST.
"The Minion," Sabatini.
"The Calendar," Wallace.
"A Soviet Marriage," Trent. "China Seas," Garstin.
"That Wild Lie," Jacobs (Jewish). "Adols," Bartlett (Californian).
"Dress of the Day," Logan (naval).
"The God that Answers by Fire," Hocking.
"Merry Christmas," Groom (Queensland story). "Four Faultless Felons," Chesterton.
"Earth Battle," Cottrell (Queensland story).
"The Young Livingstones,'' Mackail (humorous). "The Chaste Mistress, " Wright. "Haxby's Circus," Prichard. Tagati." Cynthia Stockley.
"A Loaded Legacy," Beeby (humorous).
"The Jesting Army," Raymond (war story). "The Edwardians," Sackville-West. "Brief Candles," Aldous Huxley.
"The Little Dog Laughed," Merrick (humorous). "Cimarron," Edna Ferber (author of "Show-
"The Town of Tombarel, " W. J. Locke.
"A Certain Jesus . . ," Naschiwin (historical). "Angel Pavement," Priestley. "Sailors of Fortune," McFee.
"The Middle Watch," Ian Hay (humorous). "Lady of Daylight," Allenborough.
"Post Mortem," Collins (detective). "Green Talons," Holt (mystery).
"The Rake and the Hussy," Chambers (American historical).
"A Wonder for Wise Men," Nichols (English his-torical). "The Day the World Ended," Rohmer.
"Stories by Warwick Deeping."