Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: THE OAKDALE AFFAIR by Edgar Rice Burroughs

book cover Original Publication Date: 1918
Genre: mystery, -ish
Topics: journey, honor among thieves, hidden in plain sight

Review by heidenkind:

In the sleepy town of Oakdale, a small thief called the Oskaloosa Kid enters the home of Jonas Primm, the president of the Oakdale Bank, and makes off with some valuables belonging to his daughter. As the thief tries to leave Oakdale, he runs across a gang of much nastier thieves and is nearly killed, only to be saved by a gentleman hobo named Bridge. It's clear both the Oskaloosa Kid and Bridge are more than they appear to be, but who are they? And will they be able to save themselves from a mob that wants to hang them for murder?

The Oakdale Affair isn't the typical story one would expect from Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs is known for sci fi novels like A Princess of Mars or The Land That Time Forgot. I didn't even know he wrote mysteries until I downloaded this novel, mainly because my man Ralph Snelson narrates it. And now I know why he's not known for them.

Not that The Oakdale Affair was awful—well, the ending was definitely awful and completely annoying. But beyond that it was okay. It was like Burroughs was writing an adventure novel for 12-year-old boys. You've got your thievery, your stranger danger, hobos, things that go bump in the night, gypsies, an angry mob, and mistaken identity. It's a lot going on for a short book, and it can get pretty episodic.

That said, The Oakdale Affair was never boring, even when I was like, "Gypsies, REALLY?" or getting pissed off because cruelty to animals. Bridge was an awesome character, a poetry-spouting hobo supposedly inspired by Jack London, who's protective of the kids and tough enough to keep the baddies away. Kind of like a father figure, really, which only made the ending that much worse.

As for the Oskaloosa Kid, the person who started this entire mess—borderline TSTL. I gave the kid a pass because I assumed he was 10 or 12-ish and in over his head, but maybe I shouldn't have. Again: HORRIBLE ENDING.

Overall I liked The Oakdale Affair, but not as much as would have liked it without the twist at the end, and not enough to recommend it unless you're a hardcore Burroughs fan.

Download The Oakdale Affair by Edgar Rice Burroughs at Project Gutenberg|Librivox|ERBzine