In the 1930s, Arthur Drake and his detective agency (made up of his street gang friends) become involved with Professor Bessemer’s sinister waxworks when he takes over the warehouse they use as a base. Arthur is particularly attracted by the Professor’s crippled ward Liza, but the children have to turn for help when they discover that the waxworks are the basis for a plot to take over the country.
Undemanding and slightly unconvincing. The 1930’s kids provide a mixture of realistic backgrounds – abusive parents, semitic bullying, the stirrings of adolescent attraction – and unrealistic acceptance of the lifelike waxworks which turn into killing machines. It’s rather like seeing a sanitised Terminator appear in the middle of a Secret Seven book. The adults play the same sort of roles that their Enid Blyton counterparts play, too.
The device of a modern-day Arthur Drake discovering a diary left by his 1930’s counterpart doesn’t seem to lead anywhere and gives the appearance of being a device to keep you guessing at the parallels between the boys’ lives.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer in London. He is also editor of the Good-to-Read website.