M, King’s Bodyguard
April 1, 2021

Book Review

M, King’s Bodyguard

Niall Leonard

Based on a true story, M, King’s Bodyguard is the tale of one detective’s work to preserve the life of his king and prevent an assassination in Edwardian London.

William Melville is the head of Britain’s Special Branch, personal bodyguard to Queen Victoria and her family. Through his tenacity and low cunning, he has risen from beat constable to Detective Chief Superintendent, “champion of British justice – or notorious thug, depending on which papers you read.”

The Fenians’ passion for independence turns to be a bit radical, as they seek independence or self-rule with no respect for democracy or the rule of law. Their conviction of trying to kill enough emperors, kings, and ministers convinced them to believe that it’s the way to let the common people rise up and be free of monarchy or any kind of chins of bondage.

When Queen Victoria passes away in January 1901, among many royals the German Emperor Wilhelm comes to attend her funeral. There are anarchists who might be plotting to assassinate him, and during the nine-day preparations for the royal funeral, William receives a young Italian lady at Scotland Yard. She has some information about some plot.

While trying to solve the plot, William questions one of his informants, Jakob Piotr, who is a revolutionary socialist, but not one of the cruel fanatics. William’s skillful interrogation brings something new to the surface. Something he recognizes more from Jakob’s behavior rather than his answers.

William is on a chase after someone who was trained by professionals, speaks multiple languages fluently and shifts between identities. He might be an agent of the Okhrana – Russian Tsar’s secret police.

And then there is a French agent who puts some doubt into William’s mind. Is he imagining conspiracies where there are none? The clock is ticking: just three days left until the funeral.

With brisk prose and great sense of humor, this novel brings an interesting lead character. He has risen from humble beginnings of being a baker in Ireland to being a chief detective. With his natural instinct and valuable experience, he can quickly catch someone spinning a yarn. His work takes readers on a thrilling journey of confronting anarchists, tracking down villains, and solving cases.

The historical background of M, King’s Bodyguard is informative and to the point, giving the investigative story a nice texture. Beneath the engaging dialogue and humor, there is a twisty-plot which keeps a reader on a high alert. A thrilling page-turner.

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