The prolific Horler comes up with an entertaining story about a down and outer who ends up working for a multi-millionaire as a bodyguard. There’s a good female villain that has no scruples at all. To counter balance her is her sweet young thing step daughter.
Jimmy Hannay is about to settle down for the night on a park bench. A Rolls pulls up and he’s taken to the home of Mr.Dorman. Dorman questions his attitude about committing a crime if his circumstances were bad enough.
Satisfied with his answer he tells Hannay not to ask any questions. He gives him a new suit and a costume and then tells him what he wants him to do. Go to a masked ball at Albert Hall. Wait outside Box 22 and don’t let anyone in. A man disguised as a friar will hand him something. Another man will approach him and say a code phrase and Hannay is to give him the package. Simple.
Standing outside the box he hears a woman scream from inside. He goes in and sees a friar trying to steal a necklace from her. He knocks him out. The woman is Delia Miller. She takes him home in her Rolls. Her father is multi-millionaire Sebastion Miller.
Miller likes him and eventually hires him to be a bodyguard and look out for Delia, something he’s more than happy to do. He meets Adele, Miller’s second and much younger wife. They dislike each other immediately. Adele also can’t stand Delia and the feeling is mutual.
Hannay is sent out to buy himself some new clothes and realizes he’s being followed. The man is Scanlon who works for Dorman. He tells Hannay if he doesn’t go with him Dorman will accuse him of theft. Hannay knocks him down.
Back at Miller’s he finds out they’re going out to the countryside. Miller’s enemy Kurt Zweig is in England along with an American gangster. At the country estate a scream is heard in the night. One of Zweig’s men is killed by an electric fence that surrounds the property. Hannay and Miller dispose of the body in the river.
The body is discovered and questioning Hannay is an old pal Dick Purdon who is now a Detective Inspector for Scotland Yard. Miller goes on a business trip to the Continent. His secretary Bray will take care of the big financial scheme he’s working on while he’s away. During this time Hannay and Delia are getting closer.
Meanwhile….in another part of town.:Adele is taken by Scanlon to see Zweig. He remembers her as a New York showgirl under the name of Fayre Dawn. Her temper and lack of talent ended that career as well as a stab at acting on the London stage. Looks like he wants some cooperation.
Back at the country estate four ex soldiers are hired as further guards. Then Adele shows up with a phony story of why she’s there. That night Hannay sees her working on the lock of the study door. Then someone knocks him out.
To his surprise he’s arrested for stealing a ring of Adele’s. Of course it’s a set up but he’s convicted anyway. Before being carted away he gets a visit from Purdon. He has an assignment for him.
From this point on credibility is stretched a bit but in this kind of story is pretty much has to be. It’s is a fun read and a good one to check out for those just exploring Horler.