Book Review: Dead Men Tale No Tales

August 1, 2018

Dead Men Tell No Tales cover

I hope that everyone is still doing well this week, regardless of how your days are being spent.

Things are still going fairly well here, with how things are finally quiet and I can still do what I want.

Recently, I was looking through a few online catalogs for some possible titles to cover, and I was able to get a total of five titles.

So far, one of them has been knocked out of the way, and there are still more to cover, which means that I cannot rest just quite yet.

Today, I will be covering another one of those titles, which is called Dead Men Tell No Tales by E.W. Hornung.

Mr. Cole has decided to travel and seems to be enjoying himself, but during his journey to England, something happens on his ship and he is made to leave, leaving behind a girl whom he fell for, and he believes that everyone had died.

However, after he finds himself on English shores and readjusts himself to normal life, things start happening that trouble him, and, just when he thinks that he might have found a good friend, he discovers that his friend and people that should have been dead are part of a criminal enterprise, and they are determined to either kill him, for what he might know, or have him join their ranks.

While I do tend to prefer stories with character development or where the conflict is not relegated to external realm, I do also like to see some stories with a sense of adventure, and from seeing how people said that this book had a sense of adventure, I decided to try it out.

And after having read the book, I find it to be okay.

From the moment that I started reading the first page, I felt myself pulled into the world and wanted to find out what was going to happen, but it was not enough to make me want to sit there and read through it without stopping.

One of the most important things about a work of fiction is that the audience must be pulled in quickly, so that they can get to experience something that they might not ever experience in their lifetime, and forget about their own worries.

While this can be accomplished in many different ways, depending on the medium used to tell a story and the kind of story that it is, prose works like this have to rely on two things, which is the flow of the creator's writing in way that it seems engaging and also to draw images in the mind of reader. Both aspects come together to make things seem interesting and to help the audience lose themselves, thereby creating the possibility of making the reader forget that they are reading a book.

In this book, E.W. Hornung was able to provide some semblance of writing that seemed interesting, and was able to grab my attention initially enough to make me think that I would be in for adventure, and helped to get me somewhat invested, though not quite to the extent that I would have liked or wanted to see.

If he had really worked on things in this aspect better, I would have probably found myself enthralled with the work, just like many others of fiction.

Unfortunately, because he was only able to provide one part of everything necessary for a great beginning, I can only give him a barely passing grade.

Hopefully, his other works start off much better than this one did, as I doubt that he would have had any famous characters in his lifetime, though his most famous one disappeared from the history books once Arsene Lupin came along, but considering that this is the first book I have read from E.W Hornung, I do not think I am going to ever read another title from him.

Another thing that was kind of nice was how things were a little mysterious.

When I first came upon this book, which is when I was perusing Project Gutenberg's Crime Fiction book shelf, I was not really expecting things to be too mysterious, especially with how the book opens, because crime fiction is not well-known for its mysteries, whereas detective fiction has so many stories in the whodunnit realm that it has become synonymous with the mystery genre, though Project Gutenberg does list detection of crime as an attribute of the genre, so I was more of expecting to see a crime play out.

Here, however, even though I knew there was something going on, and who the criminals were, I liked how E.W. Hornung kept the details of the crime that took place out until the moment that Mr. Cole was in England and had at least one character come off somebody that I did not want to believe was a criminal, though I knew in my mind that he had to be involved in something.

If E.W. Hornung had not been able to do this during the story, I would have been greatly disappointed and left it to decay in the shadows of all of the other great works of fiction, as the only other ways that this story could have worked out well was if the audience either followed the criminals as they were committing the crime, like what was done in Ocean's Eleven, or the focus were on solving the crime.

Thankfully, E.W. Hornung remembered that he was having us follow that does not really understand what he saw, and wrote things in a way that they would seem mysterious, which makes me want to give him some minor applause.

Hopefully, this can help writers why there needs to be some element of mystery in a good work of fiction, but because E.W. Hornung's work has gone unnoticed in an age where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie have managed to withstand the sands of time, I think there might be even better examples of how this kind of thing can be pulled off.

The thing that I liked the most though was how the book was able to grab my attention before it was too late.

While, in an ideal world, each story would be able to fully capture the reader's attention within the first three chapters, I am aware that it can take some time for a story to really get interesting, especially when the pacing is slower than what many of us are used to today, and I am willing to give things time.

However, many people do not have the kind of patience I have, and if something does not capture their interest in a certain amount, they are going to just put this book down.

While, I was reading this book, I felt like things were going nowhere, and had a strong urge to put this book down before I had even made it halfway through the book, and I was seeing little reason continue on.

However, just about when I was ready to call it quits, things started happening that grabbed my attention and gave me a reason to keep on reading this book when everything after the opening sentence just seemed to not really be that interesting, and really made me want to keep on reading to the end.

Yes, the fact that things seemed bad enough to make me feel like I wanted to put the book down before I got halfway does not make things seem appealing, but because each story is different, the right marker for when it is too late for something to be redeemable is not something that be easily determine, so the way a story flows might be a better indicator.

If things had not picked up when they did, I would have completely written off E.W. Hornung, and even questioned how A.J. Raffles could have gained any notoriety before Lupin overshadowed him, as well as made me thankful that this book has been long forgotten by time.

Fortunately, E.W. Hornung was able to redeem himself a bit, but not enough that I would ever want to sing his praises, like I would for Agatha Christie's best works that I have read.

Hopefully, writers today can use this book as a good guide to see how important it is for the readers to have desire to read to the end by seeing how this book just barely grabbed my full attention, as all writers need some kind of improvement.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least could stand out as much as what I have already talked about.

Because my attention was grabbed quickly, though not necessarily held very well, and there were some things that were a little mysterious, this was not a completely horrible read.

Although there were things that I liked, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos that cannot be excused for one reason or another, and things mentioned earlier, only one thing really bothered me, which was that I could not see anything going on.

While I do mostly read manga these days, due to how it is much easier to find one's place and how I can find things that fiction from here and the UK lacks today, I have also read numerous works that can, and one of the things that I like about prose is that I can draw the images how I can draw images in my mind.

These images that I am talking about come up, because writers generally put in enough details that the audience can draw pictures in their own mind, and the audience can see them how they want to, which is one reason Agatha Christie's works all seem to have an allure, aside from the fact that the technology featured in her work is something that my generation is familiar enough with to know what they are.

However, aside from a few instances, like when Mr. Cole has a meal in what used to be a courthouse, I had troubles picturing things enough to be able to follow things.

Imagery and the ability to draw what is being described is an important facet of prose, because the audience has no illustrations to base their imaginations on, whereas comics and works called light novels, which has a few illustrations mixed in with mostly prose content, gives the audience a basis to generate action, and if the audience cannot draw those images, the only thing that they are getting is a story, rather than being wrapped up in an adventure.

Fiction is meant to entertain and transport us to another world, yet E.W. Hornung only delivered something that I might find in a journal or even hear from my grandparents, who are all either dead or wish they were dead, as they no longer have the independence, they once had.

Yes, this story was written in a way that all these events happened in the past and E.W. Hornung wrote this before the dawn of the 20th century, but that does not change the fact that I needed to really feel like I was in the moment and part of the action, like I did went I read the Sherlock novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and that means that I need to see these events unfold.

If E.W. Hornung worked on things a bit more, I would have probably had a much easier to getting into things, as I would have not gotten the feeling that I was just reading something, rather than being a part of the story.

Unfortunately, he mostly failed to do that much, and it makes me disappointed that I even tried this book out.

Thankfully, that was the only thing that really bothered, and I can leave this behind in forgotten corners of time.

Despite the fact that there were some issues, especially those that made the things the positive aspects go down as nothing more than okay, and something that should not necessarily be a positive, this book had enough going for it to make it good enough to kill time.

I mainly recommend this to those that are interested in crime fiction and have more patience than one would need for public transit where I live, as they would be able to get some enjoyment from this.

As for everyone else, I recommend looking for something else to read, because this book is not one that would really grab the attention of too many people.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider donating as little as $1/month to me on Patreon, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.

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