Secret Histories, ed. Mark Clapham

Second paragraph of third story ("A Gallery of Pigeons", by Jim Smith [James Cooray Smith]):

These events occurred during the period covered by the very earliest pages of the first volume of my memoirs of the Great War. I had been inadvertently swept up in the joyous crowd that celebrated outside Buckingham Palace on that, in my mind even then, dreadful day in August when His Majesty’s Government declared war on Germany and her allies. I would never have joined that throng by choice but I was busily making a home visit to an elderly patient in Victoria and foolishly attempted to make my journey home on foot via The Mall and Trafalgar Square. I did not know then, indeed I could not have known then, how different and how, in so many different senses, catastrophic that war would be, but I mourned its opening none the less. As someone who had seen war firsthand, and who has known many others who have seen it likewise, I could never celebrate the opening of a conflict, no matter how just its cause may seem. So it was that the excitement of the crowd, mostly young and mostly from the lower orders, shocked me greatly.

Hugo nominations behind me for this year, it’s back to bookblogging, and I have quite a backlog to clear, even without counting the Hugo finalists that I will have to leave until after Worldcon.

This is a collection of nine Bernice Summerfield stories, with a linking narrative by Mark Clapham which rather loosely connects them. It’s a while since I read it now, so just to flag up the two stories that stood out for me one way or the other. “The Illuminated Man” by Mark Michalowski takes Benny’s son Peter into a dangerous environment – captive of a freak show, where he has to unravel a mystery for himself. It showed an underplayed character in a new light. On the other hand, Eddie Robson’s “The Firing Squad”, which is linked to this and the Sherlock Holmes pastiche “A Game of Pigeons” by an insufficiently explained plot device, has Peter’s father Adrian in a rather ridiculous odyssey across wartime France, walking from one nick-of-time adventure to another. Nothing else that stands out now that I try and write about it a couple of months later. You can get it here.

Next in this sequence: Present Danger, ed. Eddie Robson.

One thought on “Secret Histories, ed. Mark Clapham

  1. How Green Was My Valley and Under Milkwood were the ones that first came to mind for me.

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