Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?

Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?

Eleanor Updale
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2005   ISBN: 978-0439606769

Montmorency would like to think that he has left his alter ego, Scarper, far behind him, and yet Scarper is not so easily banished. On a trip to Turkey with his friend and colleague Lord George Fox-Selwyn, Montmorency falls under the influence of an evil drug, a drug which Scarper craves and demands. By the time the two men return to England Montmorency is an addict and is in danger if losing everything that he has worked so hard to attain.

Fox-Selwyn, being a good and loyal friend, decides to take Montmorency to his family home in Scotland, and he also asks a trusted friend to help him deal with Montmorency’s affliction. Dr. Farcett is a part of Montmorency’s mysterious and shadowy past, and Fox-Selwyn knows that he is taking a risk bringing the two men together again, and yet he needs the doctor’s help to care for Montmorency and to break the stranglehold of the addiction.

Luckily for all Montmorency is able to fight against the drug dependency and he and Dr. Farcett become fast friends. It isn't long before the two men are off on a trip to a distant and very isolated island off the Scottish coast. Here they make new friends and they also discover that the island has its own mystery: for some unknown reason all the babies on the island are dying within a few months of their birth. Dr. Farcett becomes determined to find out the cause of the deaths.

Meanwhile, Fox-Selwyn has been summoned back to London to deal with a frightening domestic crisis. The new Home Secretary says that there is bomber loose in London and he needs Fox-Selwyn, and Montmorency, to the find the bomber quickly. Using his slum connections and the skills he acquired when he was Scarper, Montmorency is invaluable for such a mission. 

In this book Eleanor Updale has once again created a novel which will grip the imagination. The tale exposes the seamier, harsher, and the more cruel side of life in Victorian England. We cannot help hoping that Montmorency and his friends succeed in their various quests, and are drawn into a story that takes us into all sorts of strange and unlikely places. Superbly paced, suspenseful, and full of surprises, this story reminds us that even the most successful of men make mistakes. They have to deal with the consequences, and, if they are strong enough and have good friends to help them, they will recover from the ordeal and rise again to meet new challenges.