It’s good to see a hefty selection of Sexton Blake stories back in print. I don’t know whether the new collection has any of the wartime stories – as soon as hostilities began, Blake was on the case, dealing with secret German arms dumps in Epping Forest. When his usual enemies, such as Ezra Q. Maitland, Broadway Kate and their servant Yang committed vile crimes such as robbing the Belgian Relief Fund, Blake was there to frustrate their plans.
The new selection is prefaced by a nervous note warning those of a sensitive disposition that the stories reflect the values of their time. The editor reassures us, however, that he has purged them of “words that readers may find particularly offensive”. I can see the point, but it seems a pity. Whose sensibilities are being protected? Those of ethnic minorities, or those of the British who prefer to forget the more unsettling parts of their history?