The War of the Dragon Lady by John Wilcox (Allison & Busby, £19.99)

JOHN Wilcox’s latest ‘Simon Fonthill’ novel is set in China of the 1900s, when peasants, unhappy with foreigners trying to break up their country, form a war-like group, and the Boxer Rebellion is born.

Simon and his wife, Alice, have an invitation to visit Alice’s uncle, a missionary and to escort the family to Peking. They meet up but within hours the missionary is killed by the vengeful Boxers.

Simon, Alice and their batman Jenkins, accompany Aunt Lizzie Griffith, along with two cousins, only to find that the city is being besieged and the foreign ministers surrounded; it is not the safe haven they had hoped and reinforcements are called for.

Simon, Jenkins and Chang, the Griffith’s adopted son, volunteer and slip out in the dead of night to fetch help; but they are being watched. Simon’s undertaking is his most dangerous yet, and, unknown to him Alice, left behind with her aunt and cousin Gerald, is in even greater peril.

John Wilcox’s stories are real adventure stories, and though unbelievable at times, you are drawn into the escapades of our heroes and cheer them on.

With these novels you know you are going to learn episodes of real history that is well-researched and recall the days of Empire exceedingly well. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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