F.R.'s Reviews > Mr. American

Mr. American by George MacDonald Fraser
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Apr 08, 2012

it was ok

And there I was thinking that I’d read everything George MacDonald Fraser wrote about Flashman.

The reason this novel leapt off the shelf at me at the local book emporium, was the realisation that Harry Flashman played some part in this tale. The blurb to my copy reads “even old General Flashman, who knew men and mischief better than most, never guessed the whole truth about ‘Mr American’” That was of course enough to make me reach for my wallet, although I was fully suspicious that old Flash might be appearing for five pages or so before shuffling off. As it turned out the now elderly general has a far more substantial role than I envisaged, however the spark and liveliness of his appearances shows up the great flaws in this book. For the main part ‘Mr American’ is quite a flat and insipid tale, while only come to life occasionally. The Flashman scenes are amongst the best here, so that when he disappears the reader truly misses him. Indeed this reader wished he could abandon the central character and go off to see what his aged friend was up to, as it had to be more interesting than what else was taking place in the tale.

Mark Franklin, an American from the Wild West who sports his own wild past, arrives in Edwardian England with a fortune from a silver mine. By chance he ends up connected to the English aristocracy and creates himself as a gentleman, but his past is very difficult to hide from.

It takes a good two hundred pages before the book is really gripped by a sense of adventure, and even there that sense soon dissipates. Indeed a constant problem with this novel is the way interesting looking plot strands are raised only to be hit back down again. In the main it’s a bore, a dull read which fails to grip or involve the reader with the characters or the action. Of course it’s great to see old Flashy again, but I just wish he’d been centre stage – as he’s a lot more bloody fun.
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