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by Stevie P
Fri 28 Jun, 2013 15:36:38
Forum: The Ka of Gifford Hillary
Topic: The Ka of Gifford Hillary
Replies: 3
Views: 11846

The Ka of Gifford Hillary

I began my review of this novel by re-reading a few extracts of the reviews of my predecessors.
‘I love it how a warning is given to skip the boring/political part early on in the book’
Take heed, this is sound advice! I’ll get back to this later.

‘It’s a cracking good story - in particular, the account of Hillary's attempts to escape from his coffin is quite outstanding’.
I agree.

‘I think the coffin episode is one of Wheatley's finest horror moments’
I very much agree.

Sir Gifford Hillary or Giff, as he is affectionately known to his friends is 42 years old and in prison awaiting trial for the murder of his wife’s lover. He is six foot one inch tall in his socks.
He and his wife Ankaret (26), live in the family mansion, Longshot Hall, Lepe, a comfortable late Georgian house, with beautiful views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. (Longshot was twelve miles from Lymington). In 1939 he joined the RAF and became a pilot. From his prison cell he recounts the events that have brought him to this awful situation.
It all starts with a phone call from the Minister of Defence (Sir Charles) who asks Gif to come and see him. The Minister explains to Gif the fundamental change of Warfare; specifically, ’Do we stay with the traditional style of warfare that was used during the war or do we spend substantially more money on modern nuclear weapons?’ The next 1000 words (pages 22-40 Hutchinson Hardback) are used to explain future strategies and measures for countering the threat of Soviet aggression.
(Back to the story)
Gif, being a major shareholder of a standard Navy Submarine building Company is being asked by the Minister to persuade the other shareholders to join him in a refusal to accept the Navy contract, in order to promote the ‘Nuclear’ approach to warfare which he genuinely believes is the right way forward. The minister impresses upon him that this request has not come from the Ministry but from Gif.
The request would obviously be a loss to the company but Gif (like the Minister) is sure of the ‘greater good and passes the details on to the remainder of the major shareholders. This doesn’t go down very well as you may imagine.
The next 12 pages give full (and I mean full) details of the discussions/arguments of the six board members he has to try and persuade into joining him in refusing a valuable order for purely patriotic reasons.
The major question from the other board members is ‘Where did you get all this information from’ Gif manages to avoid answering. After the meeting they all go away to think about the choice.
The most junior of the directors of the company is Wing Commander Johnny Norton (Gifs nephew) who would accept the proposal on Gifs say so, whatever the situation if Gif wanted it.

Owen Evans is a scientist that Gif had employed to work for the benefit of the company and it suited Gif and Ankaret to let him live in a part of the house to enable the work to be close at hand.
He had invented a ray which would enable death to insects or animals alike. Other than humane killing there seemed no obvious use for it. Owen was however keen to show Gif what it could do. He tests it on a rabbit and it dies instantly.
He then shoots Gif with the Ray Gun. Gif could see his body on the floor.
Afterwards, Owen (being somewhat deluded said he believed that Ankaret and he had jointly agreed with this course of action so that she and he could pursue their ‘Friendship’.
Ankaret is adamant that she hadn’t encouraged him and returns the compliment by killing Owen with a steel rod. “Take that for Giffâ€￾ she cried, you killed the only man I’ve ever loved......I’d have tried to kill you with your filthy death ray had it been working...Get down to Hell where you belong, and stay thereâ€￾ (Giff was watching all this in his ‘Ka’ form. Ankaret subsequently decides to forge a letter in Gifs name stating that he had heard that Owen and she were having an affair. The letter goes on to say that Gif had taken up the steel rod and killed Owen. Gif then states that whilst the letter may protect her, he would be locked up in Broadmoor for life, so he plans to drown himself in the Solent.

Gif had always had a terror of being buried alive and so instructions on his will stated that the lid of the coffin should not be screwed down; that air holes should be bored in its ends and that the family vault should not be closed until one week after his coffin had been lowered into his grave.

Gif is trying to get used to his new situation and desperately wants to get in touch with a medium so that he can communicate the true facts of the death ray murder. This proves to be very difficult.

In the meantime the house has a major fire and the death ray is totally destroyed so no proof that it ever existed.

Johnny manages to locate a ‘tart’ called daisy that Johnny used to visit prior to meeting his fiancée. She is also something of a medium. She tells Johnny that Gif is not dead. Johnny tells her, “He must be, I fished the body out of the Solent. It was definitely himâ€￾. Daisy says, “Maybe you did see him and think him dead but he wasn’t dead and isn’t dead.

Ankaret is found dead in her room at Longshot.

Johnny and Sue go to the cemetery in Hampshire and look inside the coffin; Gifs body has five days growth on it and the skin is as fresh and pink as on the night it had crumpled to the floor under the shock of Evan’s death ray.

Meanwhile, Gif has managed to overhear a conversation in Sir Charles’ house that members of his household staff are in fact spies and trying to kill him by poison but how does he communicate this to him? It seems strange that a ‘Ka’ has to get public transport but he does and takes the next bus to Alton then another to Basingstoke followed by a train to Waterloo.
Gifs ‘Ka’ returns to his coffin and despite great efforts can’t shift the lid as Ankaret’s coffin has now been laid on top of his.
The coffin episode begins in earnest here.

Johnny manages to get Gif out and nurse him back to reasonable health. (His hair has turned white in the meantime).

The big problem now is, ‘How can he possibly tell the truth of what happened. Who would believe him?’

Page 76 - Ankaret had ‘grey eyes’

Page 78 - The windows had been covered with Asbestos sheeting. Not allowed anymore!!

Page 110 - 112 Gif gives thought to the theory of the hereafter and the religions of the Earth.

Page 133 - The trial, an appeal, then at the end of it all ‘Jack Ketch’ putting a rope around his neck. This is a new one on me!!

Page 143 - 144 DW refers to a family name in Wimbledon who lived in one of those large Victorian houses that used to abound in the wealthier suburbs of London. The name Wilks also appears in TDRO. In this case DW refers to a family who were the London agent for a Lancashire cotton firm. (Any connection?)

Page 236 - Johnny takes Daisy for lunch at “The Clarendon, that fine old coaching Inn on Hammersmith Broadway which still maintains an excellent restaurant.â€￾
The Clarendon, 5 Hammersmith Broadway. Previously known as The Goat and The Suspension Bridge. It was a was a very large 1930s public house with attached function rooms built in the Art Deco style, and it stood on the corner of the Hammersmith one way system until it was demolished in 1988 to make way for the new Hammersmith Broadway Centre.
. The ‘Klub Foot’ was held in the main ballroom on the first floor, which held around 900 people.
(Tried to find a photo of this place without success.

Page 321 - This is the classic chapter where Gif is incarcerated and totally convinced that he will die. Superb stuff. Apart from the regulation ‘info dumps’ this is a terrific book. The Coffin scene is a classic.

P.S. Phil Baker DW’s biographer, informs us that DW was certain that he was going to die at the age of sixty. This is presumably why he issued this book when he did in 1956 (in his fifty ninth year!!!) Strangely enough I used to think exactly the same (no, I’m not making this up) My mother died at 59 and my father died at 60.
I am now sixty one and therefore looking to emulate Dennis Wheatley and go on to reach 80 at least. However I suppose I had better start drinking substantially more cigarettes, cigars and drinking substantially more alcohol in order to achieve this necessary goal!!
by Stevie P
Thu 23 May, 2013 19:19:20
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Clinton House
Replies: 45
Views: 38724

I saw my name mentioned on the web site re. accessing properties that don't belong to me. Just point me in the right direction. I enjoy a challenge. I'm currently in the middle of The Ka of Gifford Hillary....he has no problems accessing anywhere...he just floats in and floats out. Oh, that it was s...
by Stevie P
Tue 26 Feb, 2013 15:48:52
Forum: Collectors' Corner
Topic: Dennis Wheatley's own collection of his works
Replies: 7
Views: 8927


Just got back from Australia. I was going to put a meaningful bid on the collection....... :^o
by Stevie P
Mon 7 Jan, 2013 20:55:56
Forum: The Dark Secret Of Josephine
Topic: The Dark Secret of Josephine
Replies: 2
Views: 16451

The Dark Secret of Josephine

The Dark Secret of Josephine

It is 1794 and Roger Brook is having dinner with Williiam Pitt the younger at Holwood House, near Hayes in Kent.. The Prime minister is requesting that RB should return to France to carry out further surveillance in the troubled country. R B flatly refuses as it is far too soon for him to return there until the situation eases. Mr Pitt reluctantly agrees to give him an alternative role....Governor of the newly-won island of Martinique.
He makes a quick visit to Lymington to visit Grove place and join the double celebration of RB’s appointment and his Fathers appointment as Admiral Sir Christopher Brook.
RB then returns to London to finalise the departure. Accompanying Roger is Amanda (his Wife), Colonel Thursby and Georgina, Dan RB’s right hand man & Amanda’s personal maid, little ‘sloe-eyed’ Nell. Amanda also wanted a young woman who would be able to help her with her social duties and act as her companion. This turned out to be the 18 year old cousin of Amanda, Clarissa Markham.
The entourage proceed to Bristol and ‘put up’ at the ‘Negro’s Head’ until Monday 1st October when the ship ‘Circe’ sets sail for the West Indies.
After two heavy storms they eventually arrive near to Porto Rico where they are chased and attacked by a pirate ship led by Joao de Montego. His second in command was a “strikingly handsome 30 year old mullatto with fine dark eyes and lustrous black hair that fell about her shoulders...DW decided that the the description of her necessitated two paragraph’s. Her name is Lucette.
Georgina’s husband Charles Thursby, is killed following the attack on the Circe. After some time on board there is discord within the crew and fights ensue as to who wants to keep the current Captain in charge and where they should head for next. Joao is overthrown and the crew head for Tortuga.
The head of the Island is Vicompte de Senlac who coincidentally, turns out to be the nephew of the Compte de Caylus( The man who Roger had defeated in a fencing duel in France.) However, de Senlac doesn’t believe that the duel was fair and that Roger killed him. As a result de Senlac sentences him to crocodiles. This is one of the highlights of the book which I will leave you all to discover how he escapes from a very difficult predicament.
A huge fight ensues between de Senlacs men and the crew and passengers who have recently arrived on the ship.

Roger and his team escape and try to take the Circe but are fired upon.
In the skirmish Roger is shot in the leg and he and the others have to locate a smaller boat and head for St. Domingue. Poor weather conditions make the trip extremely difficult.

Meanwhile Clarissa admits to her total love with RB. He ‘unusually’ tries to dissuade her from this infatuation.

The crew & passengers eventually arrive at their destination. They approach the nearest large house and are met by the owner Seigneur de Boucicault. He feeds them and gives them shelter and informs them that war, revolution and civil war is tearing the island apart.They are also informed that one of the boldest and most intelligent of the Generals on the Island is T’oussaint l’Ouverture.
RB and his team would soon find meet him & find out for themselves.
T’oussaint & his men attack the house and De Boucicault is killed. However he has no reason to kill or injure Rogers party as there are several ladies in it. So, they are led to ‘Mole St. Nicholas’ where they are eventually put onboard a vessel which takes them to Kingston harbour.

Georgina decides to head home to England (minus husband) whilst the others sail onto Martinique.
They are met by a man in a Colonel’s uniform who turns out to be none other than his old public school bully, George Gunston!
The two of them have several disagreements with Island politics during Rogers short reign as Governor.
One of the places that he soon discover is ‘Belinda’s Parlour’, a new ‘House of Entertainment’ which is an exclusive brothel and gaming hell of the more exclusive kind. A new owner, ‘Lucette’ has recently taken ownership. Roger intends to charge her the following morning with piracy and murder. Luckily for her, Roger needs to depart for England at the behest of the Prime Minister. The PM wants Roger to go back to France to assist in getting General Pichegru “An honest man who is willing to turn France away from its current situation and bring about a restoration of the Monarchyâ€￾
Meanwhile, whilst in France, Roger makes enquiries as to the whereabouts of his old adversary Josef Fouche and then lies in wait for him.
When they meet it appears that Fouche is also keen to organise a ‘Coup d’etat’ and see the re-establishment of the monarchy.

After consultation with Pitt, Roger returns to Martinique as Amanda is expecting another child. When he gets there he is informed that Amanda had died in childbirth. After many days of mourning Roger returns to England and quickly onto France.
He explains to one of the senior Generals (Barras) that if Josephine Beauharnais marries Napoleon, Barras could give her as a dowry the command of the Italian Army for Napoleon.
However, Josephine is already married and is being blackmailed by a mulatto. Fouche was acting as her agent to buy the persons silence and would relinquish his agency if Roger could obtain for him some administerial office. Roger agrees to try and persuade Barras to do this but the immediate problem is that there is diary of Josephine which confirms that he is her husband. Roger knows that unless he finds the diary,

1) Josephine would not marry Bonaparte
2) Barras would not risk entrusting him with the Army of Italy.
3) Unless Bonaparte was given the Italian Army he would insist upon being allowed to carry out his plan for the invasion of England.

Somehow Roger had to get hold of & destroy the diary.

Fouche is arrested and banished from France by Barras as he wasn’t prepared to do deals.
Roger (having managed to obtain the address of the diary owner) goes to the address......the owner is (yes, you’ve guessed it) Lucette, who dies in the skirmish.

The book finishes with Roger and Georgina consoling themselves at ‘Stillwaters’.

This is a very fast moving, action packed Roger Brook story with two major character deaths, Charles Thursby and Amanda Brook; the reappearance of George Gunston together with numerous facts and figures turned into an excellent story line based around three famous factual historical figures, Napoleon, Josephine and T’oussaint l’Ouverture. A quality read.

Arrow paperback Snippets

Page 52 - Customary Justerini mention

Page 88 - An explanation of the term ‘Pieces of eight’ is given “They were not like ordinary coins, but simply an ounce weight of silver which had been poured molten onto an iron bench, then when, it had partially cooled, stamped with the arms of Spain and an 8, signifying its value in Pesetas. It was a common practice for seamen to bore holes in them and carry them in this manner round their necks, as it made their loss by robbery less likely and it was easy to take off one or more in payment for liquor or a woman.â€￾

Page 178 – ..(the rowers) were so worn out that that every few minutes one or other of them ‘Caught a Crab’, and it became obvious that they had become more of a hindrance than a help.’

While rowing, "catching a crab" means to put one's oar in the water at the wrong time which results in the oar flipping parallel to the boat. When an oar goes from perpindicular (good) to parallel (bad) a rower must pull the oar in and over their head.

Page 189 – I always thought that T’oussaint l’Ouverture was a song by Santana however there is more to him than you might think.

Page 330 – Brigadier Napoleon is making a name for himself and is advising Roger how the French can overthrow the old enemy (England). Roger is naturally trying to talk him out of such a dangerous action!!

Page 403 – Roger remembers that there is a dark secret in Josephines past...... She was married to William de Kay. ... eauharnais
by Stevie P
Mon 26 Nov, 2012 08:27:14
Forum: General Topics
Topic: 2013 Convention
Replies: 15
Views: 12126

Hi All, I would also agree that we should be based at Elstree. At least until we come up with a better alternative. I did like the idea of ken's visit to london....................... in the afternoon what i about a trip to london? i would love to see the cabinet rooms and clinton house as well as e...
by Stevie P
Wed 4 Jul, 2012 17:14:46
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Iwan Morelius
Replies: 24
Views: 23911

This is a real shame. I only met him on a few occasions but he will be sadly missed. Apart from being a really nice man he was a direct link with DW. It was November 2009 at the Edgwarebury Hotel that I remember asking him to sign 'The Ravishing of Lady Mary Ware' which was dedicated to him by DW. H...
by Stevie P
Thu 23 Feb, 2012 13:56:27
Forum: The Island Where Time Stands Still
Topic: The Island Where Time Stands Still
Replies: 1
Views: 11009

The Island Where Time Stands Still

This book initially takes the reader somewhat by surprise, as the main Character, ‘Gregory Sallust’ starts the ball rolling by sending a letter to Dennis Wheatley’ admitting that DW has some grounds for complaint as it is eight years since he (GS) has provided material for a book. GS informs DW that he has been engaged on a private enterprise in China & the South Pacific for the previous year and has forwarded his notes on should DW wish to publish them.
From these notes, ‘The Island where time stands still’, evolves.
The prologue begins with Gregory and Erika enjoying a cruise on Sir Pellinore’s yacht. The location is the central Pacific Ocean. All had been going so well until a vicious tempest had struck the region and the yacht is forced onto a submerged coral reef. The boat had disappeared. There was no sign of anybody. GS manages to hang on to an oar until he is eventually washed up on a shallow pool within the barrier reef of a volcanic island. Some local fishermen find him and they take him to a strange building. It is a long one-storied, flat roofed block that looked strictly utilitarian. It was built out of concrete slabs which had been whitewashed. It had been erected on a wide flat ledge of rock that jutted out from the cliff face. The cliff dropped sheer away and behind the building the cliff rose just as steeply. There is also an eight foot wire mesh fence totally surrounding the building. He later finds out that it is a holding place for immigrants. (Chapter one of this book is quite understandably called, ‘The Cage’).
A Dr Ho Ping speaks to GS (in English) and informs GS that he has a fractured skull and two broken ribs. He also tells him that he has landed on a small group of Islands known as the Manihiki’s.
To Gregory’s dismay there were no signs of any other survivors.
Dr Ping agrees to nurse Gregory back to health on condition that Gregory agrees to stay within the confines of the building.
After several weeks of recovery he decides that he can’t stay holed up for much longer and manages to escape onto the roof and with the help of an overhanging tree begins to look around. The escape is made at night and he eventually finds a much larger house than the usual dwellings. Whilst peering through the window he witnesses an abduction of a young Chinese girl. GS comes to the rescue and he is thanked by the owner of the house ‘Sze Hsuan’ who is a prominent mandarin gentleman whose daughter A-Lu-Te had just been saved. GS is rewarded by becoming A-Lu-Te’s ‘ slave’ (Don’t you just hate him!!!!)
The Emperor dies suddenly and A-Lu-Te and GS are asked to accompany the jovial Kao Hsuan (A-Lu-Te’s Uncle) and the earnest Mandarin Tsai-Ping on a trip to San Francisco. As this is where the unknowing heir is currently living. There is an urgent need to install her to her natural position as she is the last heir to the imperial throne of China. She is known as Princess Josephine. She is dumb and can only communicate by hand signals, writing & drawing.
When the group eventually arrive in America they find out that the Princess is no longer in San Francisco. After many enquiries, they establish that the Princess was taken to Mongolia with a wealthy man named ‘Lin Wan’.
Another ship & crew is organised to take them to China and a smaller vessel to get them to Yen-An on the borders of Mongolia. During this trip GS meets a stowaway (Foo Wang). GS takes him under his wing as his assistant and although he seems helpful things seem to keep going wrong and he becomes one of the major suspects.
After a journey of nearly 10,000 miles they arrive at the great house of Lin. He explains how he came into contact with her. Days later, Lin Wan is found dead.
Soon afterwards they meet with the princess (who can speak). Hold on - maybe it’s not the real Princess. Her name is Shih – Niang and she admits to having been paid to impersonate the Princess. She begs GS to take her away. She tells him that she knows, ‘The 70 Caresses and the 41 ways of attaining complete enjoyment’. (Tried to get a Wikipedia link but nothing like it unfortunately!!) She offers him the money that was given to her if he gets her out. Suddenly the door slides open, a knife is thrown which kills her. The killers disappear instantly and very soon after one of the senior Chinese leaders together with A–Lu-Te appear at the door. GS can’t wait around to explain this dangerous situation and so he escapes up a nearby tree (like Charles II did) and then in the eaves of the building itself; hence the chapter, ‘ The Armpit of the Tortoise’; which has also been used before (They Used Dark Forces – chapter 15).
After a lengthy return to their ship by way of the Great Wall of China they catch up with the real villain of the peace who was responsible for all the pitfalls that had occurred since their arrival. On arrival back at the Manihiki’s GS is forced to pit his wits against the real offenders who were after his blood & threatening him with all that went wrong on the trip. As the Hutchinson sleeve notes state sleeve notes state, “The plot is so intricate that up to the last page it will defy complete solution by the most expert analyst of detective mysteriesâ€￾ Enjoy.

Page reference’s from Arrow Paperback

Page 17 – 34 Chapter One is titled, ‘The Cage’. A cage has also been used in another of DW’s books although the chapter wasn’t actually named, ‘The Cage’ (See ‘The Fabulous Valley’). It was actually called, The Caged Bird’s Sing. (Chapter no. 29)
Page 51 – GS makes a comparison between the lives lived on the Island and Shangri La! A-Lu-Te points out that “… will find little in this island which resembles the imaginary country described in Mr James Hilton’s beautiful book (Lost Horizon)â€￾ (A plug for DW’s very good friend)
Page 52 – DW brings to light another of his thoughts relating to habitual criminals.
“For minor breaches of the law; warnings, if unheeded fines. For murder; death. We do not go to the trouble and expense of providing for their confinement. For crimes in the middle (like A-Lu-Te’s abduction) they would be injected daily for three months with a drug that destroys memory. Those who have had it are no longer plagued by their phobia; they do not remember their crimes and feel no urge to repeat themâ€￾

Page 225 – During the boat trip to Mongolia the group stop at a riverside restaurant. In order to get to the table they climb up a ladder attached to the tree trunk. The table & chairs are then located on a small platform around the upper branches.

Page 271 – “Like most Chinese buildings that are over 100 years old the roof came down at each corner in a graceful saddle that terminated in an upturned sabre tooth. By working his way along to within a few feet of this curved corner ridge, he could lie in the bend it made and gain concealment on one side from its ornamentationâ€￾

Page 285 – DW praises the book,’Honours Easy’ by that brilliant editor of the Manchester guardian, C.E. Montague. This story tells of how a cockroach hid in the ‘Armpit of the Tortoise’

I also happened to notice that the chapter listing at the beginning of the book was generally incorrect. The first five chapters had the correct page number listed but the remaining nineteen were all wrong. Obviously someone at Arrow didn’t check this when transferring info from the Hutchinson hardback.

This was my first reading of this book and I enjoyed it. The two instant recollections of the story is the ‘dinner in the tree’ and when GS was hiding in the bend of the roof as described above. It really conjured an image for me. It was the previous reviewer, Frank Linmarsh who pointed out in his excellent review that the book was great fun and I agree with him. However if I’m honest I don’t think this GS novel is in the same high category as Gregorys previous books. This is probably because Contraband, Black August and the Second World War novels were so good. Otherwise it is a good read which would have been improved without the obligatory info dumps and the even more ponderous descriptions of the various situations.
by Stevie P
Tue 20 Dec, 2011 22:07:31
Forum: Curtain of Fear
Topic: Curtain of Fear
Replies: 7
Views: 21916

Hi Steve, Hope you are well. Re. the number of books that I have read and reviewed. I'm really not sure as I've never counted them. My rationale ws to read all of DW's book's (with the exception of the dossiers as they were not really in the same category. With that exception I have read every book ...
by Stevie P
Tue 20 Dec, 2011 15:55:46
Forum: Curtain of Fear
Topic: Curtain of Fear
Replies: 7
Views: 21916

Curtain of Fear

Having re-read a number of my previous reviews I thought to myself that others readers may wonder why I add so much story-line detail rather than offering too much in the way of criticism or praise for the books I read. Initially my sole reason for writing these reviews were purely as ‘Aide memoire’ for my ever failing memory. I don’t profess to be a literary critic but just wanted these shortened records as a reminder for future years.

Curtain of Fear

In 1946 Churchill spoke of an “Iron Curtainâ€￾ coming down upon Europe. A term echoed by Dennis Wheatley in this book.
Wendy Stevenson is a 22 year old student of political economics at Birmingham University and daughter of a rich manufacturer who lives in Solihull.
Wendy’s tutor, Nicholas Novak (Nick) is 30 years old, with a slight stoop (a la Simon Aaron). His parents had both been killed in the war and had been left to fend for himself with very little money.
He normally loathed and despised what were loosely termed the idle rich. He (believed) he was as Red as any Leftist could be, while by upbringing and conviction she was a True Blue Tory.
The political differences were the only things that were disrupting their engagement.

Nick has a cousin – Bilto Novak. He is a Czech and also an ardent Red as well as being an atomic scientist working at Harwell who now wishes to pass his knowledge back to the communists and return to Czechoslovakia.
Nick meets up with cousin Bilto in the Russel Hotel, London ... tAodyhSNTg
Bilto wants Nick to have power of attorney just in case Bilto gets caught spying. Nick reluctantly agrees but is still doubtful as Bilto has extreme communist views. In fact Nick is so concerned, that he decides to take Biltos’ passport whilst Bilto is out of the room. Nick says farewell to his brother and on his way out decides to have a drink in the hotel bar. (A pretty stupid thing to do when you have just stolen someone’s passport; but we shouldn’t let illogical actions get in the way of an average plot.
Whilst enjoying his drink a page boy walks through the bar area with a message for Bilto Novak.
Nick takes the message (intended for Bilto) it advises that his car was waiting for him. As Nick looks very much like Bilto he decides to take the car that is supposed to be taking him to an address in London prior to his taking the plane to Prague airport. A young lady called Horovska is there to accompany him. Nick deliberately tries to slow things down by asking to be taken to a different address first. She reluctantly does so. When he delays the visit too long Horovska gets anxious and the chauffeur comes to her assistance in trying to get Nick back into in the car.
The chauffeur (Rufus) is a powerfully built Negro, well over six feet two in height. Folded in his hand is a five inch blade of cut-throat razor.
Rufus & Horovska take Nick to an address near Ladbroke Grove. Nick is then introduced to a man named Vanek who has short grey hair cut en brosse (as had many of DW’s baddies before this one). He is the principal representative of the Czechoslovak people’s government in this country. He is also delighted that the eminent Professor Bilto Novak has decided to return to Czechoslovakia. At this stage Nick decides to let them know that he is not Bilto, however Horovska swings the story around by telling Rufus and Vanek that this man has been her lover for the last two years and she should know that he is Bilto.
As a result Horovska and a drugged Nick are placed on a plane to Prague.
They are taken to their accommodation where Horovska admits that her real name is Fedora.
Nick realises that the political beliefs of Fedora were, in essence, the same as those of Wendy.
He couldn’t understand why Fedora had told Vanek that he was Bilto or what she was planning to do whilst she was here?
Another baddie is introduced into the story; Comrade Frcek; a biggish man, but bulky rather than tall. He, like Vanek is a minister in the people’s government. He has been told of the problems that had taken place in London and now believes that Fedora is a traitor as she has been found out to have been lying about the identification of the man she had flown over with. It was Nick not Bilto as she had claimed. Frcek proceeds to have her whipped (two full pages of detail) and then sent to Moscow with Nick for further interrogation.
Nick and Fedora are taken from prison in a large six-seater car. They hadn’t been driving long when allies of Fedora ambush the car. Nick & Fedora escape by hiding in a small bar/theatre. They were hoping to remain inconspicuous and took one of the ‘Horse shoe shaped theatre boxes’, which with the press of a switch drops down several feet to allow secrecy to couples who were none too interested in the entertainment on the stage.
They head off to find one of Fedora’s contacts who allows them to stay in a hiding place within his small Hotel.
The authorities manage to locate them and a gun battle follows, the hotel catches fire and Fedora & Nicky are stranded upstairs.
The Jacket cover of the Hardback book shows the two of them jumping out of a window at the back of the Hotel into a canal. This is probably the best scene in the book and is really well described.
Their ordeal continues via a trek through the night-time countryside. They meet up with some local villagers and given a barn to sleep in until they can get out of the country.
Unfortunately the villagers had been illegally holding religious ceremonies in the barn to which the police had been informed and a large van is brought along to take them to prison. Nick manages to evade capture by jumping onto the roof of the van. This is also another very good scene in the book. The ending however I will leave for others to read.

Page 18 - 19 Nicholas wanted Wendy to, “..abandon the shibboleths of her bourgeois antecedents and be moulded into his right-hand in the great crusade for internationalism and equalityâ€￾!!!!!!!!

Page 164 - Nick was .....â€￾an agnostic, so it did not occur to him to pray for divine intervention.â€￾ He obviously wasn’t an Agnostic then! The definition is, ‘an agnostic is popularly defined as a person who holds to a middle ground between atheism and theism who also believes that the existence of God is a definite possibility but it is not within the realm of one’s knowledge’.

Page 176 – DW promotes the author Paul Gallico by recalling a book called ‘Trial by Terror’ . DW (Nick) says that it is a brilliant piece of work which describes the treatment meted out to
suspected saboteurs. This book was the basis of a film called Assignment: Paris in 1952, starring Dana Andrews and George Sanders. It’s strange that Paul Gallico can write novels as diverse as Trial by Terror’ and The Three Lives of Thomasina, which was made into a Disney film in 1964.

Page 177 - Whilst Nick (and Fedora) are on the run from the ‘Peoples Government’ he switches his mind back to another book that he had recently read. It was about a thoroughly unscrupulous character who, between nights of love-making with a beautiful Countess, went about the continent murdering innocent policemen & others because it chanced that their duties caused them to stay in the way of British objectives during the last war. There had been a scene in which the central character, who rejoiced in the unlikely name of Gregory Sallust, had been present, although a civilian, at Dunkirk...

Page 191 - 205 The Horse shoe shaped elevator style theatre boxes mentioned above might significantly increase theatre attendances if they were re-introduced. Maybe they already have been – I have never been in a theatre box.

This is very much another DW Anti – Communist book. His references on this subject have been numerous in the past and will continue to be so in the future.
This is certainly not one of his best books but does have some merits as described above. It’s strange that (in my opinion) his worst book – ‘Star of Ill Omen’ (May 1952) and this book ‘Curtain of Fear’ (October 1953) is surrounding one of his best books, ‘To the Devil A Daughter’ (Jan 1953).
by Stevie P
Sun 9 Oct, 2011 15:04:40
Forum: To The Devil a Daughter
Topic: To the Devil - A Daughter
Replies: 2
Views: 5101

To the Devil - A Daughter

I had only read this book once before and that was back in 1973. This was three years prior to the God- awful film version that was presented to the unknowing cinema paying public. In fact I began to think my memory was playing tricks on me as I was watching a storyline so alien to the book that I think I must have subsequently removed all thoughts of ‘To the Devil a Daughter’ from my brain. Did you know that that Michael Goodliffe who played the part of George de Grass in the film committed suicide (due to depression) soon after....I’m saying no more..
The book though is good. Previous reviewers have stated that it is not quite as good as ‘The Devil Rides Out’ and I totally agree with them, but could it be!!
The ‘only thing’ that I could remember from my original reading was the line on page 175 (arrow Paperback) where Christina and John were hiding in a ‘Gazebo’ and she was beginning to turn into the ‘nightime friendly Christina’ under the influence of the dark forces. She was trying to coerce John into feeling how smooth the inside of her thighs were!! Well I was 21 at the time :D
The story begins in a house overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and situated between Cannes and St. Raphael. The house belongs to Molly Fountain. She is 45 years old, a writer of fiction and has a son named John who is 23. Molly is puzzled by the 21 year old English girl that lives next door; she only ever seems to go out at night. Molly decides to introduce herself to the girl who gives her name as Christina. It actually turns out to be Ellen Beddows. It turns out that she is hiding away at her Fathers behest as she has enemies who were and still are hunting her.
Ellen tells Molly of her dislike of churches and how animals dislike her and of her Fathers friend the Canon Copely-Syle who also happens to be her Godfather.
John Fountain arrives on the French Riviera in order to see his mother. Molly encourages John to take Ellen out for the night. They visit the Casino and Ellen extremely well on the gambling tables. They then ‘happen’ to bump into the Canon Copely-Syle and the Marquis de Grasse (One of the most evil men in France, according to Molly), who entice Ellen back to their hotel. Johnny has to rescue her from ‘The Capricorn Hotel – St. Tropez’. When they return home Molly surprises Christina by throwing a crucifix to her. Christina instinctively catches it and lets out a scream of pain. This confirms what Molly had thought – Christina was possessed by the ‘Devil’. Molly calls for help by contacting Colonel Verney (or Conkey Bill as he is also known due to his large aggressive nose) to assist with this problem. Conkey Bill (or CB for short) tells them all about Black Magic, Satanism & Witchcraft and how it is still very active and refers to Superintendant Robert Fabian (Scotland Yard) who was famous for uncovering many episodes of Black Magic. ... ture.shtml
Christina is again enticed back to St. Tropez. This time to the yacht owned by the de Grasse family. Once again John, Molly and CB go in search of her. John manages to locate Christina on the boat. There is a subsequent fight and Christina shoots the Marquis de Grasse. John and Christina are then taken to a secluded, 18th century chateau further along the French coast. The Satanists plan is to take Christina to England whilst John is locked up in the chateau out of harm’s way until they have finished their planned ceremony. John & Christina manage to escape their captors and hide in a nearby gazebo on the edge of the chateau (ref. My note above). Molly, CB & the police arrive at the scene and then take CB & John catch a plane to England as they want to talk to Christina’s father.
Christina is persuaded to admit that she shot the Marquis so that she is locked up in prison; the safest place to be when Satanists are trying to get her to England. On their arrival in England they first manage to locate Canon Copely-Syle. The Canon is shortish and plump, has hazel eyes, long silver hair swept back from his forehead to fall in curls on the nape of his neck. CB manages to convince CCS that he is a friend of de Grasse and that the abduction had gone wrong. He then tells him that Christina is in prison (Which seems a stupid thing to do!! - CCS now knows that he has to get working straight away to get Christina out). Anyway, CCS accepts CB as a friend and takes pride in showing him his pride and joy- the Homunculi in the crypt. He goes on to explain that on the 6th March he will create life by transferring a virgin’s soul (Christina) by ceremonial sacrifice to the creature before him. It all goes wrong when CCS receives a visitor advising him that CB is an imposter. CCS makes plans to eliminate CB by drugging him and placing him on a nearby railway line. However, CB frantically calls upon the God of Mercy, Peace and Love to help him in his dire extremity. Almost instantly John comes to the rescue by climbing down the chimney. Despite other forces in action they both escape back up the chimney.
The next step is to break into the house of Henry Beddows. They find him sat in the centre of a pentacle. Beddows explains that he has sold his soul to the Devil. He gained great wealth but is now set to pay the price. CB & John convince Beddows that the only way out of this is to abjure himself of the pledge given. In order to do this he has to get the signed pact from under the altar in CCS’s crypt. After another epic battle with the dark forces CB & John manage to locate the pact and take it back to Beddows where he renounces Satan & all his works. The next task was to locate Christina who had been taken from the French prison by the Satanists. The race was on to rescue her before the rite was to proceed on her 21st birthday. The problem was that nobody except the Satanists new where the ceremony was to be held. Henry Beddows bribes Jules de Grasse to tell them. The final battle takes place in the ‘Cave of Bats’ up in the hills behind Nice. (Near to the hamlet of St. Michael’)


Page 12 - The truth was ‘Stranger than fiction’ A title that DW would use in later years
Page 33 - Christina’s tells Molly that her Father,"bought another house in the best residential district; to me it seemed huge but it was just an eight-roomed house with a garage and an acre or so of gardenâ€￾. It sounds like abject poverty!
Page 62 - Ellen became ‘Distrait’. (This is a new one on me. Apparently it means absent minded)
Page 80 - Re. Robert Fabian - not only was his grandson headmaster of my junior school in Surrey Square School, London but one of his most famous Black Magic cases was in Lower Quinton not too far away from where I live now in Warwickshire.
Page 94 - Jules de Grasse states that Christina is "no more than a hoydenish young girlâ€￾. This apparently means boisterous. (How the language has changed over the years)
Page 106 - Colonel Verney had a slight stoop (Like Simon Aaron): He also had Grey eyes (Like the Duke de Richleau).
Page 208 - The Canon Copely-Syle talks of Aleister Crowley. In fact Canon Copely-Syle was modelled on the Reverand Montague Summers not Aleister Crowley as some believed.
Page 345 Beddows states, “I renounce Satan & all his works". A similar title that DW would also use in years to come -’ the Devil and all his works’
Page 365 –The book states that ‘The Cave of Bats’ was approx 5 kilometres away in the hills behind Nice. (I looked for the hamlet of St Michael in my atlas and found a St Michel.)

I very much enjoyed this book. It was Wheatley story telling at his near-best. It just makes me wonder why a film-maker hasn’t so far got involved in making the film again with the proper story line.
I certainly won’t forget this book again.

Newspaper reviews

“Few authors have such a wide and loyal following as Dennis Wheatley, that prolific writer of thrillers and Chillers.....To The Devil – A Daughter is another venture into the occult with a beautiful mystery girl as a victim of black magic - definitely not to be taken alone at night. “ Daily Sketch

“In this devil-possessed novel, the action moves swiftly to the heights of suspense“ Dublin Evening Herald
by Stevie P
Mon 5 Sep, 2011 14:21:28
Forum: General Topics
Topic: How about this for Cardinals Folly?
Replies: 34
Views: 27265

More correspondence from Witham Hall. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From:] Sent: 05 September 2011 13:59 To: Patton, Steve (S.R.) Subject: FW: Searching for the Grail!! Dear Mr Patton, Further to your email of August 3rd concerning Wi...
by Stevie P
Sun 4 Sep, 2011 14:11:32
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Museum
Replies: 4
Views: 3527

For those of you who have been looking through the exhibits in Charles' Superb Museum I recently came across a postcard of The Totland Bay Hotel in Room 3 (Gordon Eric Gordon-Tombe). There is a postcard of the hotel dated 1904 together with a note from Gordons girlfriend 'Beatrice' "Both DW and Gord...
by Stevie P
Wed 17 Aug, 2011 09:52:22
Forum: General Topics
Topic: How about this for Cardinals Folly?
Replies: 34
Views: 27265

Following my recent abortive attempt to establish Wytham Abbey as the inspiration for DW's 'Cardinals Folly' I turned my attention to the similarly named Witham Hall in Lincolnshire where Keld Fenwick (DW's friend) lived in the late 1920's. I attach the correspondence below for your perusal. (Some o...
by Stevie P
Wed 20 Jul, 2011 15:03:03
Forum: Star Of lll Omen
Topic: Star Of Ill Omen
Replies: 1
Views: 14499

Star Of Ill Omen

Kempton Lincoln (Kem) is a 28 year old Englishman who is waiting in the desolate plains of Argentina for a car to appear. He is a member of the Secret service and is on a mission to hold up a man who has the secret of a new, quick and inexpensive method of producing atom bombs.
The man he is waiting for is Estevan Escobar, a 57 year old man who is a friend of General Peron and is currently in charge of the atomic experimental station based near Basavilbaso.
When the car arrives he manages to persuade Escobar and his driver to take a minor detour. Kem then proceeds to tie them up, steal the car, and get back to Escobars' house in order to obtain the 'bomb details' before getting back to England.
Kem is welcomed at the house as he has already met the family on a previous trip to Lisbon. He was 'very' well acquainted with Carmen – Escobars’ 24 year old wife. During dinner, discussions revolve around the recent sightings of unidentified flying crafts nearby.
As night-time starts to fall, Kem feigns illness in order to get to bed earlier than the rest - he then takes the documents from the safe prior to Carmen joining him in the bedroom and 'matters' begin to take their course just as her husband enters the bedroom. A fight breaks out. At this point the aliens enter the room!!
The 20 foot high naked creatures manhandle them into the Spacecraft and whisk them off into space.
At this point Kem, Carmen and Escobar have no idea where they are being taken and after trying to acclimatise themselves to this unbelievably weird abduction start to speculate on their ultimate destination.
Within the Saucer there were flat opaque floors with a few cube blocks of the same material. One of the blocks had a lid which opened at a touch; but it was empty and its purpose obvious. It contained a large-mouthed fixed funnel leading down to a pipe about a foot wide, at the bottom of which daylight could be seen. It was a lavatory on the same principle installed in railway trains but lacking any form of trap or sluicing apparatus.

There were two aliens lying down on a raised block bed, apparently asleep. After some considerable time Kem decided to wake them as they needed food & water. The food was supplied was a couple of small brown pill’s. Water was provided by sucking from a pipe attached to one of the blocks

After many more weeks they sighted Mars through the lavatory funnel.

Upon landing on the planet they are stripped, decontaminated and put into a small closed room located within the rocks of the Martian landscape.

They are taken to another room to watch live films of ancient events such as, the half built Pyramids, Ancient Carthage and Syracuse, Vesuvius erupting, the Great Plague, the original Crystal Palace and Peenemunde - the experimental long range rocket base where Escobar had worked for the Germans during the War and much more. The reason for showing these films was to prove that the aliens had been around for a long time and had advanced well before the people on Earth; and that they were still watching.

In addition to the 20 foot bi-ped giants there are also a species of large Flying Bee/Beetles on Mars. It becomes obvious that they are the brains on the planet whilst the Giants are the Brawn. It also becomes apparent that communication is possible between the newcomers & the aliens, by telepathy. More detailed explanations required the drawing of pictures.

The Bee/Beetles want the newcomers to build atomic bombs for them. There is some reluctance on behalf of the humans as they are worried about 'where' the bombs would be dropped!! However, they go along with the aliens in order to buy some time. It also transpires that Escobar knows very little about bomb building. The Argentinian government were just trying to convince the rest of the world how much of a power they had become.
After several day’s the group are awoken by another human; Anna Nitkin, a young Russian girl who had been abducted from Earth in the same manner as Kem, Carmen & Escobar. She had arrived with two others; her father, Dr Kruger Harsbach, who had been working on 'Nuclear reactor technology' & Nicholai Zadovitch. The Doktor was a tall, gaunt man in his late fifties. He had a slight disfiguring of the cheek following a bullet wound received during the war. Zadovitch looked about forty.He was broad and powerful with a shock of yellowish hair, a beard of the same colour and the flat high-cheekboned face of the typical Russian peasant

Due to Carmens' religious beliefs she declines any of Kems' further advances as she is still married to Escobar even though he has since discarded her as his wife.
One night Kem & Anna are outside searching for material for the bomb(s). They manage to evade their captors and stay outside overnight. To keep warm Anna starts to dig a large shallow rectangular ditch. With help from Kem the ditch grows to some six feet long and three feet wide. Anna then tells him,â€￾Now get your clothes offâ€￾ . The plan is to lie in the ditch with their clothes on top of them. Kem lies down in the ditch she then strips off and lies down on top of him with her knees either side of him. She pulls the clothes on top of herself and then lies down on top of him. He then shovels the dirt on to her back and then.......they fall asleep!!!!!
Zadovitch finds them in the morning and 'wrongly' accuses them of infidelity. He points the gun at Kem but Anna having pre-empted the situation had removed the bullets. A fight ensues and Zadovitch is killed.

When they return to the base, Kem deliberately creates a revolution within the camp by attacking the Bee/Beetle's to see if they have stingers that could harm the the giants or for that matter the humans. He attacks one and nothing happens he repeats this and kills one. He realises that they have very little defence other than the mini pincers which they use as hands.
Kem then makes the giants realise that they are being controlled and are being used as slaves. Uproar ensues.

Kem makes a deal with the Bee/Beetles that he will quell the revolt as long as they transport the human party home. With a few amendments it goes according to plan. The saucer takes of until Kem suspects the insect pilots of not fulfilling the agreement. He threatens the insects and they fly off into an unreachable part of the craft.

He then realises that they will have to fly the saucer back to Earth themselve's.

Page 42 - The descriptions so of the UFO sightings were of several 100 foot diameter Saucers with a central turret in the middle and one mother ship with a diameter of approx 500 feet. There were also a large number of small coloured lights that would dart about in and around the Saucers.
This reminded me very much of the various scene's in 'Close encounters of the Third kind'. I wonder where Mr Spielberg got his idea's from??
Page 112 - Chapter 12 is called - World Far From Ours. Later that same year (1952) an omnibus was produced titled, Worlds Far From here which contained the three 'Lost Civilisation' Stories , ‘The Man Who Missed The War’, ‘They Found Atlantis’ & ‘Uncharted Seas’.
Page 153 - Peenemunde has been mentioned in many of DW's books. 'They Used Dark Forces' is the book that uses Peenemunde as a major part of the storyline.


There are a couple of interesting idea's within the story line such as the smaller insect type creatures being the dominant species of the two.
There was also the ditch digging situation which I described earlier that just seemed very strange but probably accurate.

Although 'Black August' & 'The Ka of Gifford Hillary' are classified as 'Semi' Science Fiction novels, there are only two 'Total' Science Fiction novels that have been written by DW.
'Sixty Days to Live' was, I thought, a top notch novel which kept me riveted throughout. It's quite astonishing that his second S.F. story, 'Star of Ill Omen' should fall so far short.
I can't blame the age of the Science Fiction writing for appearing almost childlike at times as 'Star of Ill Omen' was written some 13 years after 'Sixty Days to Live'.

I suppose that with every (book) list, there are the books at the top of the list, a large chunk in the middle and the remainder that are left over, I have to say that this is one of the remainder.
by Stevie P
Fri 8 Jul, 2011 12:11:08
Forum: General Topics
Topic: DW Events for 2011
Replies: 60
Views: 36915

Whilst on the subject of Lymington did anybody happen to see, 'Escape To the Country' It was on the BBC last Wednesday 6th July (17.15 - 18.00) It was one of these programmes where couple's have X amount of pounds to spend and the TV presenters search for various houses for them. This time it was Ha...

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