Valentine Williams – The Fox Prowls (1939)

Williams - Secret Service Series

Golden Age
Category: Animal in Title
Finished: February 4, 2015

This is the eighth Valentine Williams Secret Service novel I’ve read and I continue to enjoy them. This one, published in 1939, is one of his later ones, and the style and content seems out of date by that point. The gentleman British espionage agent worked well for 1922, but for 1939, with no mention of Nazis, the series had run its course. In this one, a father and daughter inherit an old castle in Bessarabia, proceed to fix it up, but are really being used by arms manufacturers as a staging place to incite a conflict with the Soviets and the Ukraine in order to drive up munition stocks. This charge, of course, fit better between the wars, than it did in 1939 as WWII escalated. Still, Williams writes good espionage in the Buchan school and this one is competently told. Of course, the hero gets the girl and all ends well, but I’d be disappointed if it didn’t.

I was first drawn to these books at the Planned Parenthood booksales at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines in the 1980s and 1990s. The tables were full of 1950s and 1960s mysteries, but there were always a some of these on hand. Played well in Iowa, apparently.

Lesson learned: don’t invest a lot of money in restoring a castle in Bessarabia just before WWII.Also, now know more about modern Modolva than previously.

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