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The Irregular

(An Irregular Spy Thriller #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  52 reviews
London 1909: The British Empire spans the globe, seen as an invulnerable imperial power—but in Russia, there is revolution in the wind; in Germany, an arms race; and in London, the streets are alive with foreign agents provocateur.

Vernon Kell, head of counterintelligence at the War Office, wants to set up a Secret Service, an agency with a mandate to act domestically and
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 2017)
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Linda Amos Just guessing but .... Double O + spying = Obviously James Bond. Double U = W for Wiggins. not good if you are undercover surely.
Just guessing but .... Double O + spying = Obviously James Bond. Double U = W for Wiggins. not good if you are undercover surely.
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

The Irregular takes place in Edwardian London in 1909 and tells the story of Wiggins. Just about managing to get by, Wiggins is employed as a bailiff and is struggling to get by, it’s a rough life, a harsh time and it’s even harder to make an honest living. Approached b
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A protege of the now elderly Sherlock Holmes, Wiggins rose from a street orphan to soldier in the Boar War to find himself working for Vernon Kell. Captain Kell has been given the responsibility of uncovering foreign spy's at the Woolwich Armory in London before they can sabotage British armament in the run up to the Great War. Sherlock Holmes has only one undercover operative in mind for Kell's position; the "Captain" of his "Baker Street Irregular's" Wiggins!

This is a big sprawling adventure t
Charles Green
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
On paper the The Irregular sounds like a winner; former leader of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars, now grown up, is recruited to spy for the British Government newly formed intelligence agency in the run up to the First World War. It seems to promise old fashioned, escapist espionage adventure, along the lines of the 39 Steps, with plenty of action and intrigue.

Instead what we get is book that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. At times it seems to be a piece of escapist adventur
Gloria Feit
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

It’s not easy for an author to come up with an original idea for a novel, much less a plot involving Sherlock Holmes. But that is just what H.B. Lyle has done, albeit the great detective here only playing a minor cameo role, offstage, as it was. Instead, he has grasped an historical development, the forerunners of Britain’s MI5 and MI6 in 1909 and using the “best” of the Baker Street Irregulars,Wiggins, as a protagonist. Not only Holmes, but no less a personage than Winston Churchill plays a min
Elaine Tomasso
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would like to thank Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for an advance copy of of The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy, the first in a new series of pre-WW1 spy stories which weaves real people and events into a fictional narrative.

Britain is in turmoil with Russian anarchists causing mayhem and a war with Germany looming, not that most politicians believe it. Captain Vernon Kell of military intelligence has a problem. He believes that there are German industrial spies stealing Britain's lat
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fast moving spy thriller centred on the creation of Britain's Secret Service, set in the 1st decade of the 20th Century. The story features characters both real and fictitious. The "hero" is Wiggins - the original leader of "The Baker Street Irregulars" - street kids who were employed by Sherlock Holmes as his eyes and ears on the streets of London. Now, a grown man, Wiggins is recruited by Captain Vernon Kell, head of counter-intelligence at the War Office, who is desperately trying to alert ...more
Jean Kolinofsky
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. Sherlock Holmes was assisted by a group of orphaned children called the Baker Street Irregulars, led by a boy named Wiggins. He has now grown, served in the military and is trying to support himself.

With a recommendation from Holmes, Wiggins is approached by Vernon Kell from the Home Office, who has been tasked with finding evidence of German spying. Kell's operatives have all been gentlemen who stood out against the worke
Yorky Caz
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-loans
Sooo good - its very hard these days to find a Sherlock Holmes new angle that hasn't been written about yet but this ticks the box. Wiggins the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars is now grown up and off on his own. Fantastically written and with the rare joy of a last page that actually made me cheer out loud!! Highly recommend. ...more
Liz Barnsley
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this! Full review to follow.
Unseen Library
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of The Irregular from Hachette Australia to review.

I did a short review of this book in the Canberra Weekly:

Originally reviewed back in June 2017, I have re-published this review on my blog as part of my Throwback Thursday series.

Click the link below to see my reivew of the sequel of this book, The Red Ribbon:

For other interesting reviews, visit my blog at:
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
I dodn't get into this. Even though I liked the concept, it read like Sherlocked fanfiction. I won't finish this book. ...more
Samuel Tyler
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
With Sherlock Holmes out of copyright there are more spin offs from the series than crimes in his casebook. Not only are there further Sherlock adventures to read about, but stories from Watson or the ladies in Sherlock’s life. ‘The Irregular’ takes another character from the original tales and expands the universe. Wiggins was the leader of The Irregulars, a group of street children that Holmes would use to gather intel or follow suspects, but what ever happened to him? H. B. Lyle is around to ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This review was originally posted at Dual Reads
Copy received for an honest review

What Worked:

The concept of a Baker Street Boy all grown up was obviously a big draw for me! And I did really enjoy Wiggins' character for the most part. Holmes himself even makes a brief appearance which was interesting.
Bela was a side character I really enjoyed. I loved her whole story and background. She was interesting from the moment she first appeared and the more I learned about her, the more I loved her.
Jessica Bronder
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is 1909 and Captain Vernon Kell has the feeling that things are going to go south fast. He wants to start a Secret Service but his superiors don’t see the need for one. So, Kell goes out on his own and finds Wiggins and offers him a job. Wiggins is the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars and trained by infamous Sherlock Holmes. Wiggins does not agree at first but when a close friend is killed, he hunts Kell down and joins.

While in Germany, investigating a munitions factory, Wiggins learns o
Bob Mobley
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
H.B. Lyle has written a superb mystery novel that is engaging, exciting, and absolutely holds your attention as a reader. It’s his first novel and promises to be a very entertaining and exciting series, much in the tradition of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Set in London in 1909, Lyle captures the feeling, the energy, the complexities and the cultural divides that were such a part of this imperial capital at the beginning of the 20th century. It is an interesting and enjoyable ride through the ...more
Tracy B
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable - Worth A Read

I was drawn to this book following the authors article, in the Guardian, bemoaning a lack of working class characters in spy novels.
A quick read, I found it to be an enjoyable romp set in the period of The 39 Steps. For me, the book flows well, however, the main character is not as rounded as Deighton’s Harry Palmer or a Callan. It’s main danger is that of becoming a cliche of the Sharpe Novels, rough working class hero, falls for female whilst fighting villains etc. I h
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ebook, netgalley
A bit uneven and scatter shot, but with some real kernels of intrigue and interest that could be expanded upon in any sequel. The characters are strong and the setting/plot polishes some trodden area with a new shine. Would I cut down on the changes in perspective and flashbacks? For sure, but those are course corrections that are easily done. Would recommend, as the potential strength of the series is strong.

I received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Samuele Frecchiero
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I saw this novel on the shelf of the bookshop, a strong curiosity invaded me. The Irregulars were the street lads who often had helped Sherlock Holmes during his investigations. We didn’t know a lot about them, about their origins, and we knew nothing as to what the future had for them. Lyle’s book focused on Wiggins – the leader of Holmes’s efficient helpers – and his life as a grown-up. Although he’s not a kid anymore, the street is still his realm.
London 1909. When the authorities find L
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The game is afoot in Lyle's first novel that will hopefully be a new series of Brit thrillers for Holmes fans! Combining imaginative back stories of Baker Street Irregular Division members, history and WWI geo-politics, Lyle puts Wiggins on the case to avenge his best friend's murder with twists and turns that lead to great developments for Wiggins personally. My only criticism of the story is the gruesome descriptions of violence against children and women, which were repeated to the point that ...more
Nick Brett
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a fun read. Sherlock Holmes is retired, but one of his old child “Irregulars”, Wiggins, has now grown up and is a talented and dangerous man.
Britain is under threat but is not sure whether it is the beastly Russians or the sneaky Germans. British intelligence services are in their infancy and not treated with much credibility or respect. Captain Kell is losing his few agents to a mysterious enemy and Wiggins might be the very man he needs. The trouble is, Wiggins isn’t interested until i
Another case where 3.5 stars would be better, but sadly it's not an option. This is a good book, and enjoyable read with likable characters and plot twists that keep the pages turning. In a nut-shell, Wiggins (the main character) is an orphaned street kid turned spy, who was learned his craft at the feet of Sherlock Holmes. Lofty beginnings and high expectations is what is expected from this story. The author doesn't disappoint. Kell, Wiggins Boss and acquaintance of Holmes, is often left scratc ...more
John Walker
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining new series featuring some one we know, especially if you have read Arthur Conan Doyle.
The early twentieth century bring about spies and counterspies and the British empire struggles to create an agency that can blunt Germany and possible other countries from stealing secret armaments for a war that might happen (course we all know what that will be).
Into this come a man, who as a boy helped the world's greatest detective years ago. Older, a bit wiser and the Boar War experience past
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This novel is a first in a series set in England before World War I. The British intelligence service is trying to get started but finds Eton-bred spies are not very effective. So one of the people who had assisted Sherlock Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular and is now grown is recruited to do the job. As a result he and his upper class boss get involved in a plot involving German spies and Russian terrorists. The story was interesting enough, but not sufficiently gripping to get hooked by the s ...more
I Read, Therefore I Blog
H. B. Lyle's debut historical thriller is a clever by uneven and at times clunky affair that marries the febrile anti-German atmosphere of 1909 with a minor character from the Holmes canon but while Kell and Wiggins have an interesting odd couple relationship that holds promise and I loved Kell's no-nonsense Suffragist wife Constance, some of the twists were predictable and the flashback scenes interrupted the pace. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Was interesting in some ways. characters not well formed. A little too much like fantasy for me. The coincidence was just too much. But the spoiler for me was the bad guy was a good guy (girl) up until the very end. I don't like that. surprise endings where a good person turns out to be the bad guy as a surprise trick and u turn for the book. ...more
Bridget Nowicki
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent book with an interesting enough concept. It did drag a bit through the middle, though. Knowing who the antagonist is WAY before the main character Wiggins does made me want to smack him upside the head. That said, I would probably read a sequel. Wiggins was an intriguing character with a good backstory, and hopefully he learned his lesson in this book!
Dec 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I have read a fair number of these kinds of novels, however this was not quite what I was looking for, due to a particular problem.

It was worth a try! Perhaps one of you may enjoy it.

There are plenty of Russian derivatives, which make it incredibly interesting, but I am particularly uncomfortable with racial discrimination.

That's what I found.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won this book on a goodread giveaway. A Sherlock Holmes of the working class about Wiggins a down and out but perceptual to his surroundings and people . Look forward to seeing more of the same .The characters will make an ideal series for future novels.
David C Ward
The founding of the English secret service as an offshoot of Sherlock Holmes' advances in detection. Ok but melodramatic and tries to do just a little too much - the subplot with Bela's history - and the upper class English men are all caricatures; the empire is a little hard to explain if the ruling class are ALL twits. Too much of the music hall which is always the temptation with Edwardian London and the example of Dickens. The bit with Coca Cola was a nice touch.

I'm dubious that in 1909 an
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“Wiggins. A good man. She used to wonder whether they existed, where. And there he was, a magnificent drunken white knight, fighting for her on the street, buying her perfume, holding her hand. Gentle and true. Why did he have to be so true? Didn’t he know the poor can’t afford love?” 0 likes
“The speaker was from the Socialist Party, but over the last few weeks he’d heard a Labour Party speaker, a Communist, trade unionists and various self-proclaimed revolutionary anarchists. They all banged on about the same things, with varying degrees of anger. Not that he disagreed with what they said, it was just cloud-cuckoo in his experience. What employer’s going to give the workers two weeks off a year? There’s plenty of people out of work who want in, Wiggins knew, and so the bosses always get to choose.” 0 likes
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