Friday, December 27, 2019

Forgotten Books: Barbary Gold - H. Bedford-Jones

Art by Modest Stein

H. Bedford-Jones is probably best remembered for his historical fiction, but he wrote in a lot of different genres, including contemporary thrillers. This one certainly qualifies. BARBARY GOLD was published originally in the March 25, 1919, issue of PEOPLE’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE and follows the adventures of three World War I veterans—an American (who’s the narrator), an Englishman, and a Spaniard—who meet while recuperating from their wounds in a French convalescent hospital.

They form a fast friendship and discover that two of them share something in common: the Englishman was on a British ship that sunk a German submarine carrying millions of dollars in gold along the coast of Africa, and the Spaniard was the prisoner of Moors along the same coast and knows the waters better than anyone else. They hatch a plan to travel there and recover the gold from the sunken sub and rope their friend the American in on the plan with them. Once the enterprise gets underway, though, they find it threatened by not one but two beautiful, mysterious women who can’t be trusted, and there are also secrets from the past, including murder, that may ruin everything and put them all in deadly danger.

If you’re thinking this sounds like something Jack Higgins or Alistair Maclean would write a few decades later, you’re absolutely correct. It’s exactly that sort of high-stakes adventure novel. Bedford-Jones’ style is more reserved and old-fashioned than those later writers, as you’d expect from a yarn written and published a little more than a hundred years ago, but his prose always had a more modern feel to it, compared to most of the other pulp authors, so it holds up well. I really enjoyed BARBARY GOLD, and if all you’ve read by Bedford-Jones is his historical fiction and you like thrillers, you ought to give it a try.

No comments: