The American setting of The Definite Object allows Jeffery Farnol to diversity his usual cast of minor characters with immigrants, gangsters, slumlords, and professional pugilists.
The variety adds complexity to the novel without noticeably changing Farnol’s usual story line.
The Definite Object: A Romance of New York by Jeffery Farnol
1917 bestseller #9. Project Gutenberg eBook #16074. My grade: C+.
Half-English Geoffrey Ravenslee is “so rich that [his] friends are all acquaintances.”
He wants a wife who wants him more than his money.
When Geoff catches Spike Chesterton breaking into his mansion, he decides not to prosecute if Spike will take him to Hell’s Kitchen to meet his sister, Hermione.
Geoff gets a room in the same tenement as the Chestertons and proceeds to charm everyone except gangster Bud M’Ginnis.
Spike hangs around M’Ginnis hoping to break into fighting. He’s sure he could make a fortune to give Hermione the country home she wants.
Geoff’s courtly behavior wins over women.
Men, except M’Ginnis, are more impressed with his boxing behavior.
As English characters are thrown in with American characters, neither comes off as believable. The large cast allows ample time for the absurdities of the characterizations to punish the never-strong plot.
Farnol gets in some of his delightful wry observations, but they aren’t enough to raise this novel beyond the level of mediocrity.
© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni