Author: Edgar Wallace
Publisher: House of Stratus
Reviewed by: David Cantrell
Edgar Wallace was a hack. This, the first of his very many crime novels, is at heart a reversed rip-off of Sherlock Holmes, whose adventures were entertaining Strand readers at about the same time. Instead of a brilliant detective bringing justice to criminals, we have brilliant criminals bringing their own brand of justice to those who deserve it. The criminals themselves are likeable enough. However, their characters and motivations are barely sketched out. Indeed, it is two of their victims who are, so to speak, painted in colour when everyone else is merely sketched in pencil. And where in a Sherlock Holmes story you would, by the end, know exactly what happened and how, the reader of this story has very little idea how the Four Just Men knew, for example, how their target was guarded. Even so, this very short story is an enjoyable enough read, mostly let down by the very last page, which is a terribly inept attempt at clearing up all the loose ends.
As the author died a long time ago, the book is out of copyright and available from manybooks.net to download for free in several formats. I recommend grabbing a copy.