A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
There was an ominous squelching crack. Kauffmann’s hands were jerked violently up to the level of his shoulders with the mechanical action of an automaton, and he collapsed in a heap at Elphinstone’s feet. Standing over him, still clutching the weapon, Elphinstone apostrophised the fallen man, breathlessly, almost hysterically. “That will teach you better manners, you dirty spy.”
“Intelligence” might be just a twisty little spy story, and one without anything too surprising in it’s twists. Still, there is something great about Rafael Sabatini’s complete abandonment to the adventure of it all.
The plot leaps from espionage to blackmail to burglary to detective yarn and back to espionage all in about 5 pages. Sure the characters are stock, but they’re wonderful stock—a shifty German professor, an infallible detective, a desperate scoundrel. They’re surrounded by a perfectly built atmosphere of dread and suspicion, and they spit histrionics like professional wrestling heels.
“Intelligence” is essentially a quick, brilliant distraction. If you want it, and a whole lot more like it, then check out The Big Book of Adventure Stories or one of Rafael Sabatini’s classic novels The Sea-Hawk, Captain Blood, or Scaramouche.
Review by Matthew