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An African Millionaire

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published October 11th 2007 by BiblioLife (first published 1897)
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May 25, 2011 Maren rated it it was amazing
This series is a little gem. The gentleman thief known as Colonel Clay cons the same South African Millionaire, Sir Charles Vandrift again and again in a series of clever short stories. It is immensely satisfying to read how the pompous Vandrift and his equally demanding wife are tricked out of their money through their own greed, vanity and suspicion. Clay is a master of disguise and with his female partner, Madame Picardet, they follow the Vandrifts across Europe and America selling them their ...more
Jul 21, 2012 Jean rated it really liked it
This was a surprise. I picked it up at the library, not noticing at first that it was a reissue of a novel originally published in serial form in 1896. What a diversion! The story centers around the diamond millionaire Charles Van Drift, and his recurring misadventures in dealing with a master of disguise and swindler, Colonel Clay. Each chapter brings new cringing on the reader's part as we realize before Charles does that he is about to be a victim anew. Colonel Clay has a female sidekick ...more
John Yeoman
Mar 29, 2015 John Yeoman rated it it was amazing
This brilliant series of fast-paced rogueries, laced with wicked wit, proves that Victorian authors could be as brisk and funny as a modern newspaper column. Sadly now forgotten, Grant Allen - who wrote between 1877-1899 - is a master of language and under-stated irony. These tales relate the battle eternal between an unscrupulous millionaire Sir Charles Vandrift and Colonel Clay, a confidence trickster of devilish cunning, as told by Vandrift's secretary, himself a man of flexible morals. The ...more
Paul Lima
Aug 26, 2014 Paul Lima rated it really liked it
This is a funny book -- satire, but not biting. A millionaire keeps on getting taken by a modern day Robin Hood. And when he finally catches him.... well, you'll just have to read it. Fair to say the millionaire and the 'hood' develop a relationship. Told from the POV of the millionaire's secretary, it has you wondering who is the real thief. It's an old book and e-versions should be available from Fun read.
Jun 15, 2009 hannah is currently reading it
Shelves: ebook, suspense
The story of an african millionaire and how he's being burglarized again and again. I have read 1/4 of the book and begin to find it boring ...
Steven Heywood
Jul 29, 2014 Steven Heywood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sardonic gem of a collection.
Shira Glassman
Nov 30, 2016 Shira Glassman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poly
A rogue with two devoted wives (who the final scenes indicate are extremely close so whether V or triad is up to you), a master of disguise, and a wiseass Robin Hood socialist? Heyooo, why have I never heard of this book until now? Yes, most of his antics are slimy and underhanded, but the target he repeatedly cheats is even more slimy and underhanded (especially in "The Episode of the German Professor", the twist ending of which made it my favorite of the stories.)

The stories are narrated by th
Simon Brilsby
Jul 07, 2015 Simon Brilsby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can be read on my blog: Brilsby's Whims

The series in a line: Gentleman swindler cons a millionaire over and over again. Sounds repetitive, doesn’t it, twelve stories performing the same dance. But Allen avoids stagnation by differentiating the stories just enough. Of course the stories have a formula, but they never descend to the formulaic. In each story Allen introduces one or two new characters – It doesn’t take a mystery aficionado to spot the criminal. But the unmask never hogs the climax.
Doug Frizzle
Sep 23, 2016 Doug Frizzle rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Not one of GrantAllen's best but still a good read.
AN AFRICAN MILLIONAIRE. (1897). Grant Allen. ***.
This is a collection of a series of twelve adventures or episodes that first appeared in the Strand Magazine in 1896-97, then in book form in 1897. They are stories about Sit Charles Vandrift, a millionaire owner of diamond mines in Africa, and his secretary, Seymour Wentworth – who is also his brother-in-law. Vandrift is constantly set upon by a man known as Colonel Clay – a man of incredible wit and remarkable disguises. In tale after tale, he
Vance Woods
Aug 23, 2011 Vance Woods rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
Simply put, I love this book, and I look forward to reading Allen's other works.

When I picked it up, I did not expect "African Millionaire" to be as deep and well-crafted as it turned out to be. It is not (NO spoiler) at all what I expected, which was essentially a series of twelve "capers," good guy against bad guy. Instead, I got a well-written, amusing bit of social commentary. Granted, it is not overt in its message, but Allen's stories leave the reader with very little doubt as to whose si
Nov 23, 2016 Rozonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grant Allen was an ahead-of -his time writer in many ways- he wrote early science-fiction, discussed openly sexuality and equality of women, and , in this book, exposed clearly the idea (which is quite clear today, but was not so much back then, more than 100 years ago) that respectable business men can be as low and despicable and even more than common thieves. Colonel Clay and Mme Picardet, charming, intelligent and brave, swindle the "respectable" millionaire Mr Vandrift and his secretary ...more
Virginia Rounding
Apr 18, 2016 Virginia Rounding rated it really liked it
Very entertaining, with an appealing 'villain'. And interesting to find criticism of capitalism and capitalists as pertinent now as when the book was written (it was first published in 1897).

Here's a good quote: "I may add that people always imagine it must be easier to squeeze money out of millionaires than out of other people – which is the reverse of the truth, or how could they ever have amassed their millions? Instead of oozing gold as a tree oozes gum, they mop it up like blotting paper, a
It was entertaining for the first three stories, but then it got old. It only recounted the tale of the millionaire being conned instead of Colonel Clay's adventures. However, as the book progressed we got to see more of the characters; their flaws and their goodness. The characters were distinctive on their own. I was not rooting for either Sir Charles or Colonel Clay, although the stupidity shewn by the former was as astonishing as the audacity of the latter.

The ending a little sad, but the r
Jeff Hobbs
Read so far:

1. The episode of the Mexican seer--3
2. The episode of the diamond links--3
3. The episode of the old master--
4. The episode of the Tyrolean castle--
5. The episode of the drawn game--
6. The episode of the German professor--
7. The episode of the arrest of the Colonel--
8. The episode of the Seldon gold-mine--
9. The episode of the japanned dispatch-box--
10. The episode of the game of poker--
11. The episode of the Bertillon method--
12. The episode of the Old Bailey--
Dec 16, 2009 elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tricksters, Wobblies, the hard-done-by
This book about how a callous millionaire (whose diamond fueled fourtune is the epitome of colonial, capitalist greed)gets his comeuppance is a humane comic masterpiece. Written at the very end of the 19th century, Allen's work feels shockingly contemporary- especially given the state of current corporate greed. Every chapter finds Col. Clay in a different disguise getting the best of the titular character. Awesome. Take that capitalist scum! You'll get yours!
Jim Puskas
Mar 28, 2016 Jim Puskas rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, mystery
A bit of amusing reading; reminiscent of some of O. Henry's stories that were collected into the volume entitled The Gentle Grafter. A series of scams, some of which go awry.
Very much dated, the time setting being late 19th C and the language is idiomatic of that period in Britain. It bears a moral message but none of it need be taken seriously.
Jun 06, 2011 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a con man and a millionaire. The can man swindles the millionaire over and over again. You begin to wonder why the millionaire doesn't figure out who his nemesis is before it's too late. His hubris is his achilles heel. Definitely a "cat and mouse" tale that entertains the reader who tries to figure out who the mysterious Col. Clay is in each of his guises.
Jul 09, 2015 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, audible
I don't often review books that I haven't finished, but at halfway through the "adventures" have become very repetitive; moreover, I'm not particularly sympathetic to the villain/swindler here. Audio narration is very good.
Imran Lorgat
Apr 01, 2014 Imran Lorgat rated it really liked it
The rivalry between Charles and Colonel Clay and the witty schemes make An African Millionaire both funny and clever; a formidable combination.

Full review here:
"Do you know who I am, sir?" he asked angrily. "I am Sir Charles Vandrift, of London-a member of the English Parliament."
"You may be the Prince of Wales", the man answered, "for all I care. You'll get the same treatment as anyone else, in America."
Nov 25, 2016 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century
(view spoiler) but I think Grant Allen just about pulls it off. Any monotony in the plot is made up for by great characters, a great theme, great dry humor, and a great ending.
One of Grant Allen's best known works, and deservedly so. The character of the rascally Colonel Clay, who always manages to be one (or more) steps ahead of the law, is one of the great literary creations.
Christopher rated it liked it
Apr 08, 2016
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May 22, 2016
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Grant Allen's Colonel Clay 1 3 Aug 01, 2014 01:47PM  
Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen (February 24, 1848 – October 25, 1899) was a science writer and novelist, and a successful upholder of the theory of evolution.

He was born near Kingston, Canada West (now incorporated into Ontario), the second son of Catharine Ann Grant and the Rev. Joseph Antisell Allen, a Protestant minister from Dublin, Ireland. His mother was a daughter of the fifth Baron of Lon
More about Grant Allen...

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