This book can be seen as a prime example for Bangsian fantasy -a genre, which concerns the use of famous literary or historical individuals in plots and their interactions set partially or wholly in the afterlife - and the rich and intelligent comedy that permeates the narration will leave the reader chucking with pleasure. The book begins by introducing the reader to the arrival of a spanking new houseboat on the Styx, the river that separates Earth and the Underworld. Charon who is the usual ferryman of the Styx is appointed as the new janitor for this houseboat by 'Associated Shades' - one of the swankiest organizations in the Hades made up of every famous historical and mythical figures who has ever died and gone to Styx - and the houseboat is made into a permanent clubhouse for its members. The club has such luminaries from history like Sir Walter Raleigh, Cassius, Demosthenes, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Confucius, William Shakespeare and even Baron Munchausen as it's members. And from this setting of a houseboat club thriving with ghosts of historical figures, John Kendrick Bangs creates 11 hilarious short stories, which will remind one of the Drones club and Angler's Rest stories from P.G. Wodehouse. The stories don't have any central theme and relies heavily on dialog-based humor than situational one's as in each chapter the author pits some of the heavyweights of human history in to laughter evoking verbal jostling as they discuss various topics. The verbal comedy, which Bangs generates while bringing historical figures into hypothetical conversations where they take a dig at each other, is seriously of first-class quality and will leave the reader laughing out loud. Members of the clubhouse often making jokes about Shakespeare's works being ghostwritten by other authors and Baron Munchausen entertaining the club members with his incredible tall tales are two recurring and amusing scenarios with in these stories. The last short story of the book describes the mysterious disappearance of the clubhouse on the houseboat, which sets the stage ready for the sequel 'Pursuit of the House-Boat'. When originally published in 1895, 'House-Boat on the Styx' was immensely popular and was among the bestsellers in 1896. The book was followed by 2 sequels 'The Pursuit of the House-Boat' and 'The Enchanted Type-Writer' - with both of them being bestsellers - and I look forward eagerly to read them both. Like other works from John Kendrick Bangs, 'House-Boat on the Styx' is loaded full of rich and insightful sharp wit. A classic made out of a perfect potpourri of fantasy, brilliant satire, shades of philosophy and Greek mythology, which makes perfect material for immensely enjoyable lighthearted reading. An interesting trivia about this book: Alan Moore fans will recognize this houseboat from John Kendrick Bangs, as it is the same one, which Moore presents in his graphic novel Promethea.
Sheila Delaney has one goal in life - to be the best cop she can be - and that means being as good a cop as her father had been. Known as one of the best undercover detectives in her precinct; for that matter, the entire Philadelphia Police Department, it looks a lot like Sheila has achieved her goal. She's often called upon for some of the city's toughest assignments. She uses ingenuity to create a persona that will fit the role she plays while undercover. Even her Captain, admits he never knows what she'll come up with next. Yet, he respects her just as much as he respected her father, a man with whom he'd risen through the ranks. Sheila is called upon to go under cover to break up a drug ring that has strong connections to a supplier in Columbia. A ring that is also connected to the deaths of several people, including other law enforcement officers. They are certain a cop is neck deep in the middle of the entire operation - a dirty cop who may be in their own precinct. The Captain is depending on Sheila to get the information to uncover the person involved. Little does Sheila know how deep her under cover she will have to go as the case has so many twists and turns she might need a program to keep up.
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