My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by James Benmore
As sequels to Oliver Twist go, this one was pretty good. Benmore depicts the Artful Dodger in a sort of 'winning rogue' sort of way that makes him likeable and easy to sympathize with as he gets into one tight situation after another.
The premise is that Jack Dawkins, aka The Artful Dodger, has returned to England after criminal exile in Australia with a special dispensation from the governor, but the governor has his own reasons for sending Jack back. He is to track down a valuable stone, called the Jackapoor stone, accompanied by a native employee of the governor who is also an assassin.
The premise is reasonably believable, however, some of the elements of the plot are not. There were scenes that ranged from the doubtful, like Jack finding out so many years later that Fagin had been killed, to the highly unlikely like the current residents of his old derelict lodgings allowing a known thief and his quiet, black friend to have a night's lodgings out of Christian charity. Sorry but in Victorian England, suspicion of such a pair would be too high to invite them into your home for the night and the building in question would probably have been uninhabitable and torn down long since!
The icing on the cake of unbelievability though, was later in the book when Jack meets up with all his old friends, Fagin's boys. I guess the author missed the part of Oliver Twist at the end where all the boys died of drink. Still, the reformation of Charley Bates was handled very well so at least that consistency with the book was carried forward.
Despite these problems with the plot, the story was told well and I did enjoy it, though it got a little slow in the middle. There is a sequel to this sequel which suggests to me that it could become an ongoing series, but I have mixed feelings about it. Judging from the sample of Dodger of the Dials, it looks like it will be much the same in that the character is well depicted, but what he does goes in directions that don't ring true.
Overall I enjoyed the read, but felt like it could have been done better.