GEORGE McDONALD FRASER – Flashman and the Tiger. Knopf, hardcover, 2000. Anchor, paperback, 2001.

   Flashman and the Tiger‘s a collection of three bits Fraser apparently hasn’t the energy to work up into full-blown Novels, but an entertaining collection nonetheless. “The Road to Charing Cross” revisits Bismarck and some of the players in Royal Flash, with Flashman unwillingly (of course) involved in thwarting an attempt on the life of Emperor Franz Joseph. The twists are pretty easy to see coming, and Fraser missed an opportunity for an interesting footnote about Valentine Baker, but it’s still fun.

   The second bit, “The Subtleties of Baccarat,” is a Henry-Jamesish thing, the story hinging on self-righteousness, public opinion and the subtle agendae so dear to James’ heart. Imagine The Ambassadors with sex and a sense of humor and you get the idea.

   Best of the lot, though, is “Flashman and the Tiger.” Holmes enthusiasts will see the resolution marching down Baker Street, but it’s an enjoyable thing, and Holmes’ cameo appearance is truly hilarious. Seek it out.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #18, March 2002.