10 Best Adventures of 1936 (5)
May 9, 2016
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1936 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!
Peter Cheyney’s Lemmy Caution adventure This Man is Dangerous.
The first Lemmy Caution novel isn’t the best — but then, none of them are particularly amazing. And yet, they’re well worth reading for the same reason that French audiences loved these hardboiled thrillers about an American FBI agent, written by an East London hack. Because they’re fun, violent romps: In this installment, an organized group of gangsters are planning to snatch the daughter of an American millionaire, while she visits England. And because Cheyney’s Caution — a loud-mouthed, machine-gun-toting brute — talks in a bizarre patois that’s almost a parody of American hardboiled crime fiction. (“It is as dark as hell. The moon has scrammed an’ a fine rain is fallin’. It is one of them nights when you ought be discussin’ the war with somethin’ in a pink negligee.”) What a hoot!
Fun fact: Cheyney himself was a big, tough British private investigator who in the early 1930s headed up the “biff boys” faction of Oswald Mosley’s proto-fascist New Party. Cheyney’s 10 Lemmy Caution novels were most popular in France. American actor Eddie Constantine played Caution in over a dozen European movie adaptations… including, perhaps most memorably, Jean-Luc Godard’s sci-fi noir Alphaville — in which Constantine’s Caution infiltrates, investigates, and finally helps destroy a technocratic dictatorship.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1936 adventures that you particularly admire.