An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar in London's Jewish ghetto. When the eccentric and enigmatic Barker takes the case, he must hire an assistant, and out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," he chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man with a murky past. As they inch ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder, Llewelyn is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the heart of London's teeming underworld. Brimming with wit and unforgettable characters and steeped in authentic period detail, Some Danger Involved is a captivating page-turner that introduces an equally captivating duo.
Reading Group Guide 1. To what does the title refer? Who is narrating? Look at the language in the opening paragraphs. What does it tell you about the narrator? What are some of the specifics about the narrator's life up to his employment with Barker? Is he a reliable narrator? Why? 2. How does Some Danger Involved hook you as a reader? Share your response to the book's language and pace and details, and its characters. When does the story take place? Share some examples of how Will Thomas uses language and other sign-posts -- such as people, items, customs -- to reveal this. 3. In Chapter 2, what does Llewelyn mean when he tells Barker he is "playing Virgil to my Dante"? Does this foreshadow anything? If so, what? Recount what happens to Llewelyn in Chapter 2. What do we learn about Barker? What does Barker see in Llewelyn? 4. Looking at Chapter 3, read the titles of some of the books Barker lends Llewelyn. Why these titles in particular? What do these have to do with their work, or their lives? Do the titles of these books provide any clues to the story that will come? 5. Share your opinions about Barker. Describe him physically. Thinking about his habits, what kind of person is he? Does he remind you of any other literary Private Investigator? If so, who, and why? What do we really know about him? 6. At the end of Chapter 6, what does Llewelyn tell us that "barker" means? Does this fit with the character? Discuss the other character names. How does the author supply information about the characters by the names he chooses for them? 7. Given the story's historic setting, how does author Will Thomas incorporate England's class system? Consider Barker's staff. Why does the author choose the name Jacob Maccabee for his butler? Why, or why not, is a Jewish butler appropriate for this story? 8. Why does he use the struggles of the Jewish people here? What is he telling us? What is the role of anti-semitism in the book? How effective is it for this story? 9. In Chapter 13, look at the interview Barker conducts with Rev. Painsley. Share your reaction to what Painsley is saying about the Jews. 10. Why did you believe Llewelyn was shot at in Chapter 14? Did you have any clue as to why he would be a target? Did you realize that this was a ruse to throw off the investigation? 11. Share your reactions to Professor Rushford's speech on eugenics. Do you think this is still a prevailing opinion in some quarters? Why? What is the purpose of holding and espousing such an opinion? Discuss whether or not eugenics is a natural phenomenon (like Darwinism) or a fabricated one, and why. 12. Looking at Chapter 17, share how Llewelyn describes Nightwine when he first sees him. Describe Sebastian Nightwine. What is his residence like? What is his role in the story? 13. How did you react to Racket being the bad guy? How does Will Thomas succeed in surprising the reader with Racket's true identity? Why does Racket crucify the young scholar, and then attempt to crucify Llewelyn? 14. Looking back on the fact that Racket was always nearby with his carriage, do you think this was a subtle or not so subtle clue that he was the murderer? Share whether or not anything gave away the fact that Racket is not just a coachman. 15. Do you think there is much more to learn about Barker and Llewelyn? Discuss how Will Thomas leaves room for a sequel, and what you might like to see this pair doing next.
"What lucky readers will find in Some Danger Involved, by sure-footed first-time novelist Will Thomas, is a vibrant gumshoe full of contradictions and wit, equally at ease among London's highest society and its lowest denizens...Thomas's storytelling is top-notch, generously filled with humor and attention to detail. He brings to life a London roiling with secret leagues, deadly organizations, and hidden clubs." -- Ron Bernas, Detroit Free Press
"The characters are fresh and appealing and the setting strong and original...While we get to know young Llewelyn pretty well, there is still a lot to be learned about his enigmatic employer, which we hope will be revealed in books yet to come." -- Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post
"An exciting page-turner...I look forward to their next adventure!" -- Anne Perry, New York Times bestselling author of No Graves as Yet and The Whitechapel Conspiracy
"Adds an appealing new duo to the hall of paired detectives...A colorful ride...terrific." --John Orr, San Jose Mercury News
"Will Thomas explores wonderful uncharted territory...true believers who go along for the ride will hate to see it end." -- Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review