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The Mystery of Tunnel 51

Book 1 in Wallace of the Secret Service Series
Narrated by: David Timson
Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
4 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Chief of the Intelligence Department Sir Leonard Wallace - bearing always the hallmark of coolness and wit - is up to his earlobes in trouble. Summoned by the Viceroy of India, he makes a rapid flight to India to investigate the mysterious death of British officer Major Elliot and the theft of some very important dispatches.

©1928 The Alexander Wilson Estate (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A romping read.... James Bond may find he has a worthy rival." ( Daily Mail)
"The dialogue is reminiscent of that in the early Agatha Christie novels, and there is an air of Simon Templar about Wallace, who seems to be always one step ahead of everyone else." ( Books Monthly)

What members say

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Would make a good 1930's Grade B Espionage Movie

Overly melodramatic and not my cup of tea. Our hero, Wallace, would actually have made a good silent movie character, with his daring chases, escapes, gun battles, and rescues. Lots of chase scenes, secret passages, upper crust Englishmen running India, and Russian and Indian spies. At one point, after having been seriously burned in a fire, Wallace bravely checks himself out of the hospital to continue his search for some missing documents. Strangely, his blistered skin is not painful, nor is his burned hand. I am not sure whether I will make it to the end or not. The book was written in the 30's and plays like a Grade B black and white spy movie.

The narrator's character voices are good but I find his narrative sections grating. Just a personal preference. Others may not be bothered.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Derrick
  • Derrick
  • 04-28-16

Passable adventure story

This book has to be seen in its context; this is a 1920's English adventure story. If you are looking for gritty realism, then you are in the wrong place. It is brimming with stiff upper lip, dastardly villains, delicate but plucky ladies and a suave, assured hero. It is a passable adventure to while away a long drive, although one can see why the series has not passed the test of time in the same way as John Buchan's Richard Hannay novels.

I started this intrigued by some reviews of its racism and portrayal of Indian characters. I feel this is a very unreasonable imposition of modern values on quite a gentle period piece. Take that level of censorship and we would wipe out pretty much every work of fiction before 1950, and quite a lot since.

All in all, a light, frothy listen, but not a series I will return to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Ian1956
  • Ian1956
  • 11-23-18

Dreadful tosh

I greatly enjoy detective yarns from the so-called Golden Age of crime writing, but this was decidedly bronze medal stuff. The premise was fine, and when the author was describing the Indian countryside (clearly taken from personal experience) that too also held up. However, the pace was even uneven and character stereotypes were embarrassing shallow. We had to suffer cringing natives, who often gave in after little more than a bluff or sharp stare from an pukka Englishman, plus a hero-worshipping No2, and then Wallace's batman, who came across like like Long John Silver's idiot brother. "Swab me decks!" has never been used so often and with so little justification. Even allowing for the fact that what is acceptable in conversation has changed in the last couple of generation, too much of the dialogue here was simply excruciating. I'd recommend fast-forwarding through any passage involving Wallace's family. I had had great hopes for the series, but no. It was awful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • sd rogerson
  • 09-27-16

Golden Age

It is wonderful to have access to these stories from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction - a wonderful ripping yarn!!!