Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Bid for Fortune (1895) by Guy Boothby

First serialised in The Windsor Magazine, one of the rivals of The Strand Magazine this story introduces us to the master villian Dr Nikola.

Nikola isn't in the story much but his actions influence most of the narrative.  The story is narrated by Richard Hattaras, a young man from Thursday Island (making him a fellow Queenslander).  Hatteras falls in love with Phyllis Wetherell the daughter of the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales but the engagement is blocked her father.

It turns out that Nikola has designs on something that Wehterall owns and his plan is to get this item.

Nikola is a great villian.  I found myself quite liking him, there were several times where Hattaras intervened with Nikola's plans and Nikola had Hatteras and his allies in his power and it may have been more efficient and expedient to kill them but Nikola keeps them alive and sets them free.

At the end Nikola gets what he wants but lets everyone go.

At the end Hattaras and Phyllis are married and Nikola gets them a very nice wedding gift.

The story hops around globe starting in England across Europe to Australia and finishes in the South Seas Islands.

Guy Boothby was an Australian writer who was very successful back in the day but largely forgotten today.  There are four more Nikola books and I look forward to reading them.  I want to see what Nikola has planned for his prize.


  1. Huh, I did not know Boothby was Australian. I assumed he was British.

    Dr. Nikola was always an interesting character, though I heard the books were rife with plot holes.

  2. Boothby was born in Australia and later emigrated to England. His first book "on the back of the Wallaby" was about him traveling around Australia.

    Yeah there are plot holes and inconsistancies. Hattaras mentions that his mother died when he was one and his father a year later. Then he states that his father died when he was fifteen being the obvious one I noticed.

  3. Jess Nevins mentions the plot holes, but said the character of Nikola made up for it. The plot holes maybe the reason Boothby isn't as popular now as he was. Then again plot holes did not stop The Di Vinci Code from becoming popular.

    Nikola seems to be the perversely honorable villain like Fu Manchu.