10 June 2009
Jack London: THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU, LTD.
Alright, here's the rub, right off the bat: I forget the name of the guy who edited / completed this book for Jack London (who, to reuse the word in a drastically different sense, rubbed himself out before finishing this book off). Of course, that would be bad news if I were to sing his praises, but that (un?)fortunately isn't the case. No, in fact, I think The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. was actually closed out pretty shittily. I mean, you've got a tremendous premise (is it a rip-off of Edgar Wallace's Four Just Men, or possibly its inspiration? Or just a remarkably similar contemporary?): a secret society of professional assassins, who kill only if the assassination can be socially justified, and are now asked to kill their chief--by the chief, who's been convinced by his daughter's fiancee that the Bureau must be wiped out, and that the Bureau is the only instrument capable of it. Yes, I know: the perfect mixture of philosophy and adventure. And, for the first 3/4 of the book, it plays out that way; coincidentally, those 3/4 are the ones written by London. As for the douche who finishes things off? All "adventure," although it doesn't read like it. Rather than sticking with the extensive notes London had compiled, the editor apparently tries to finish everything off as soon as he possibly can, with a highly-unlikely Hawaiian murder spree. Yeah, whatever. Grading this one is tough: an F(+?) for the last 1/4, and a B for the first three...let's call that a C and have the whole thing done with.