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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Sit back, put your feet up, and immerse yourself in the world of the nineteenth century. Here’s a story to take you back to Oliver Twist’s London, written in the compelling and descriptive narrative style of Charles Dickens himself. It’s Jack Dawkins’s story this time, not Oliver’s. Jack, Oliver’s childhood buddy on the street, accomplice in crime, the infamous Artful Dodger of Fagin’s nefarious crew. And, he’s just returned from Australia where he’s served his time. There’s none of Fagin’s old crew remaining, but that doesn’t bother Jack. He’s of a mind to elevate himself to a higher station in life, to seek his rewards in most genteel company. But when he reconnects with his childhood friend, Oliver, Jack realizes, to his surprise, that he actually has a conscience and, whilst the pickings might be good, there is yet a certain element of honor amongst thieves, at least for this thief. And, when a lad goes missing, kidnapped from his upper class home, Jack finds himself once again in his old haunts, only this time more the hero than the villain.
Charlton Daines’s novel, Jack Dawkins, is a fast action mystery set in Victorian London. Complete with the popular characters of Dickens’s Oliver Twist, namely Oliver and the Artful Dodger (Jack), this story reads like a Dickens story. The narrative is concise and descriptive, and the characters are both believable, compelling, and capable of all kinds of emotions, including a bit of humor. The wide diversity between the classes in this era is evident, with the knowledge that one can actually bridge that gap with little more than a new set of clothes and a good command of the Queen’s English. Artful Dodger, aka Jack, seems to straddle the two extremes of society with great ease, until in the end he finds his place on one side of the river and decides to make his mark there permanently. A great telling of a story that Dickens left untold. This is indeed a classic, or perhaps I should say a continuation of a classic.