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The Four Just Men

(The Four Just Men #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  110 reviews
When the Foreign Secretary Sir Philip Ramon receives a threatening, greenish-grey letter signed FOUR JUST MEN, he remains determined to see his Aliens Extradition Bill made law. A device in the members' smokeroom and a sudden magnesium flash that could easily have been nitro-glycerine leave Scotland Yard baffled. Even Fleet Street cannot identify the illusive Manfred, Gons ...more
Paperback, 134 pages
Published February 12th 2001 by House of Stratus (first published June 4th 1905)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,109 ratings  ·  110 reviews


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BrokenTune
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Warn Ramon that the Four do not go outside their promise. If they have threatened to kill in a certain manner at a certain time they will be punctual. We have proof of this characteristic. After Anderson's death small memorandum book was discovered outside window of room evidently dropped. Book was empty save for three pages, which were filled with neatly written memoranda headed 'Six methods of execution'. It was initialled 'C.' (third letter in alphabet). Warn Ramon against following: drinking ...more
Piyangie
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: brittish-lit
This is not your typical mystery; it is more akin to a thriller. The author was new to me, so I didn't know what to expect from the book, but I wasn't much pleased with the outcome. The book, as I've already mentioned, is more of a thriller. The mystery part appears right at the end of the story making it quite insignificant. Wallace has attempted at a mystery of a locked room. The idea is intriguing of course, but the space allocated to the mystery was too sparse that it didn't make the intende ...more
Leah
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, crime
Surprisingly contemporary...

When the British Foreign Secretary decides to push through a law which will allow the enforced return of political refugees to their countries of origin, he becomes a target of the Four Just Men – a group of vigilantes who set out to right what they perceive as wrongs that the normal systems of justice can't touch. The story is a kind of cat-and-mouse game where the reader, along with the entire British public, waits to see if the Four Just Men succeed in carrying out
...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
This was an interesting twist from your average mystery. In my opinion, there really aren't any good guys. It does pose the question: when is vigilante justice justified?

The story, however, was well written and quite suspenseful.
No one knows who the Four Just Men are, where they are from, or where in the world they could be at any given moment. They are vigilantes who through ingenious means execute people they believe have gotten away with criminal activity. They have assassinated royalty who h
...more
Cphe
A locked room mystery/thriller. A group comprising of four men plan to carry out an assignation at the highest level in English politics and so change the course of history.

A dated story but surprisingly contemporary for world politics. Depending which side of the fence you are sitting on the "four just men" could easily be viewed as terrorist.

Enjoyed the locked room aspect and the period. Not a lot of characterisation on offer.

This particular edition was poorly edited so unable to recommend.
...more
Phaney
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
2012 Review:

It was weird. I know, and distinctly recall the exact feeling, that I completely loved these men when I first read this long ago. I admired them and they were beyond cool and ingenious. I still think they’re ingenious. Thing is? I also think they are very probably in the wrong.

They’re murderers, killers, and their only frame of reference is their own sense of justice and their conscience. They’re the original vigilantes.

Now in the case of that raping priest one of them killed it’s a
...more
Kim
I just finished not only The Four Just Men but the next one in the series The Council of Justice too. It's good for the Four Just Men that I kept going after the first book because I didn't like them when I was reading the first one. I am incredibly glad I am not one of the four just men because I don't want to be one of the people who not only decides who gets killed, but then goes and does it. How would I ever decide who is worthy of living? Or dying for that matter. I suppose I could pick all ...more
John
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Somehow, probably because of the 1959–60 TV series, I seem to have known about the concept of the Four Just Men all my life -- and I've even discussed on my Noirish site the 1939 movie based (very loosely) on Edgar Wallace's novel -- so it came as quite a surprise recently to realize that I'd never actually read the novel itself.

The Four Just Men are essentially psychopaths, but they've channeled their psychopathy into the murdering only of people who are doing immeasurable harm to numbers of ot
...more
Nick Duretta
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can see why this was hot stuff in its day (around the turn of the 20th century) but it doesn't age well. Wallace was an incredibly prolific writer of thrillers, and this one introduced the venerable "locked room" mystery that was to become a staple of mysteries and thrillers for years. A man, targeted for murder at a specific time, locks himself in a room in which there is no other access. Yet he's murdered anyway--how? The explanation here is barely convincing and not very satisfactory. The w ...more
ShanDizzy
This was a very intense story especially given when it was written. It has certainly stood the test of time and could be classified today as a thriller. Having said that, I was stunned by the arrogance of the vigilantes. I think this sentence sums it up for me "Here are men arrogating to themselves the divine right of superior judgment." ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun, fast read. Four criminals swear to kill a man unless he does what they want. His honor demands that he shall not bend. But the criminals act only for the greater good...

A nice crime story of a type that isn't often seen these days. I liked it.
...more
Claire  Admiral
★★★☆☆ 3 stars
Marley
Sep 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Certainly not the best or best written mystery ever published, but such a fun read! I don't know if Wallace intended to, but he certainly skewered MPs, which is part of the fun. Not surprisingly, he's got anarchists wrong (the Four Just Men argue they aren't anarchists, and they're not), but reflects the fear of anarchists fueled by the press and ppoliticians--not to mention the acts of whacks who thought themselves anarchists or agent provocateurs--in the late 19th early 29 century. As an histo ...more
Vishwas
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This short and taut thriller is one of the best you will ever read in the crime genre. A story of four vigilante men, it makes for great reading and is definitely the perfect book for a boring afternoon!
Mark
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
In my quest this year to always have one classic novel going, I decided to start with this author I never heard of, an early 20th century Brit who specialized in journalism and the Victorian/Edwardian version of thrillers.

"Four Just Men" was the start of a series about a determined band of European vigilantes who decide to kill off people in the world whom the law cannot punish. In this debut, their target is none other than the foreign secretary of Great Britain, who is pushing through a bill t
...more
Samantha
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. I knew nothing about it other than it's on my list of top mysteries to read. Turns out it is terrific satire that is surprisingly (and depressingly) very applicable to the current state of human affairs. ...more
J.J. Lair
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
You get the point of view of the Four, the police, witnesses, and local thieves. I can’t go into the best parts because it will give away plot points. It gets tense in the tea shop.
Realini
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace
10 out of 10


You can find this fabulous and short opus on quite a few important lists, from the 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... and the top 100 Crime Novels of All Time https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Top... and this is more than an indication that one could well engage with a book that is marvelous and can be finished in a day, that is it takes less than four hours to finish.

The printing and the promotion of the book ha
...more
Isidore
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I first read this novel it didn't make much of an impression. Now that I'm a little more knowledgable about its context, I can understand why it made such a splash in the still largely genteel world of the Edwardian thriller.

Its tight, laconic style must have seemed astonishing---perhaps barbarous---to readers of the three-volume Victorian thrillers, and even compared with contemporaries like Doyle, Rohmer, and Wells, Wallace writes with unusual brevity and directness. We'd previously had a
...more
Arthur Pierce
There are portions of this book that are gripping, and other spots that are quite tedious. Wallace is not a great writer by any standards (at the beginning of part 2 he finds it necessary to spell out to the reader that they should sympathize with the title characters) and I'm sure it bothered him not a bit when readers pointed out that much of the incident of his books strained the credibility. There is no doubt that this sort of thing influenced the comic book super hero genre for years afterw ...more
Laura Rittenhouse
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
A mystery that is the opposite of a who-done-it. From the beginning you are introduced to the 4 just men and learn of their desire to kill a prominent politician in England if he doesn't meet their demand. The demand is simple, do not table a bill that will allow the extradition of political activists. Not only is the reader told of their intention, the politician, police, newspapers and entire British population know as well (and a good portion of the rest of the world).

The mystery is around ho
...more
Neil
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There can't be many authors who have a best seller that bankrupts them but Wallace managed it with this book, the story of how he did is every bit as entertaining as anything he wrote and is well worth investigating, anyway back to the book. A short book, a novella really, how four criminals pull off a remarkable crime under the police-force's nose. This isn't a book of hero's and villains, there's no Sherlock Holmes to solve the crime and the four men themselves are shadowy figures, it's just t ...more
Sammy
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-fiction
Not really worth it. A dimestore novel, but it's outlived its usefulness. Too many characters, and a plot which is promoted as "one of the great puzzles of crime fiction" but really hangs entirely on contrivance. Points, though, for some of the unexpected deviations - the story of Billy Marks is affectingly handled - and for its surprising timeliness: a story about well-meaning activists who become terrorists in their bid to stop an illegal immigration bill planned by self-righteous-but-decent p ...more
Bill Fletcher
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Cold and rainy night, power went out in the house and this was the perfect book to snuggle up with on my Kindle. Okay, you can't exactly snuggle up with a Kindle the way you can with an actual book, but it sure beats trying to read by candlelight. Definitely an old-fashioned writing style and kind of a poor-man's Chesterton, but a very fast read and interesting enough that I'll read more of his stuff, especially if the lights go out again! ...more
Mike Windbigler
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
It was an okay story. A traditional who done it mystery. I wish the author would have spent more time with the 4 Just Men though. I know he couldn't spend a bunch of page count in there company, otherwise it wouldn't have been much of a mystery, but would have liked to have known them better.
I actually listened to the audio book at work and with that comes distractions that probably took away from the story. I will say it sparked my interest to read Agatha Christie again.
...more
Robert
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I knew nothing about Edgar Wallace until I read this, then looked him up. Quite the literary gadabout. The book, about a plot to murder a member of parliment, could come right out of Hong Kong and US politics today, as the MP is seeking to pass an immigration/extradition law. The band of Four Just Men are vigilante hit men, killing people around the world who "need" to be killed for the greater good of Justice. Tempting to send them a letter about some shits in DC today. ...more
Robert
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This was more interesting for the story of the story -- Edgar Wallace's life and the bankrupting contest he sponsored for the book -- than for the story itself. However, that story was interesting, a Sherlock Holmes story without a memorable Holmes but with the same atmosphere, and a bit more suspense. It's also very short, so I found it well worth the time to read. ...more
David Macpherson
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a strange old book. The heroes are rich folk who are planning on killing a government official because he is about to introduce a piece of legislation into Parliament they are against. It is clever and has some nice detail and it moves, but the sense of moral vertigo kind of threw me, it was an odd reading experience.
Michael
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this after finding out it was the book Hawley Harvey Crippen was reading when he fled to America after killing his wife. I had just finished reading Thunderstruck by Erik Larson and wanted to remain in that world for a while longer. The book was fine; entertaining, nothing special, though.
Edith
Nov 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Edgar Wallace was a great storyteller - he wrote "King Kong" for heaven's sake! This story is a real pleasure to read - about a vigilante group on the trail of a bomber in London. ...more
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The Readers Revie...: The Four Just Men: Background 2 23 Nov 08, 2020 11:35AM  
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175 followers
Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and countless articles in newspapers and journals.

Over 160 films have been made of his novels, more than any other author. In the 1920s, one of Wallace's publishers claimed that a quarter of all books read in England were written by him.

He is most famous today a
...more

Other books in the series

The Four Just Men (6 books)
  • The Council of Justice
  • The Just Men of Cordova (The Four Just Men #3)
  • The Law of the Four Just Men
  • I Tre Giusti
  • Again the Three Just Men

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