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Biggles and the Gun Runners

This is the 87th Biggles book to be published. The book was originally published by Brockhampton Press in September 1966. As with all of the later Biggles books it is an Air Police adventure where Biggles and his cohorts are based at Scotland Yard in London under Air Commodore Raymond, although as normal this does not stop them chasing around the world after criminals.

Story

As the title to the book suggests, Biggles is on the hunt for some international gun runners. Quoting from the wrapper front flap gives us a flavour. "Biggles advertises his Services in the hope that he can pick up the trail of a gun-running racket which is causing international concern. The Mysterious character of the Count who answers his advertisement, and the suspiciously high salary he offers, suggests to Biggles that he might be on to something big. When he is shot down, Biggles decides that the Sudd - 400 miles of mud and water - is no place for a picnic, let alone a big commercial airliner."

Biggles Sees It Through

When I read this book a few years ago, my first question was 'why is this book called "Biggles Sees it Through?"' With most Biggles books you instantly have an idea of the story from the title; however I would argue that "Biggles Sees It Through" could aptly describe the majority of the Biggles books as Biggles and Co. will never leave the job half done! This book could equally have been entitled "Biggles In Russia" although the story starts with Biggles being assigned to an international squadron to help the Finns in their battle against the Russians.

This is a very fast moving story which is highly enjoyable as long as you don't mind reality taking a sideways step. The whole story revolves around a mission to collect some missing papers from a Polish scientist who lost them during a plane crash which Biggles discovered during his initial reconnaissance flight. The majority of the action takes place on or near a frozen lake just to the Russian side of the Finland-Russian border.

W.E. Johns Space Books

I feel it is important to set any science fiction book into the context of the time the book was written. In this instance, the set of 10 books in the Space Series were written before Man had gone to the moon, although plans, I assume, were in motion. The series was published between 1955 & 1963.

W.E Johns is famous for his Biggles books, of which there are around 100. He did try his hand at other genres including a couple of romance novels, gardening magazines and books. However, it will always be his children's books for which he is remembered including Worrals,  Gimlet, and Steeley. Some of my personal favourites are his Space or Science Fiction novels. As with all W.E. Johns’ books, they are good easy reading yet fast paced novels. Unlike some of the Biggles books which can become a bit formulaic, at the end of each Space series book there are unanswered questions which draw you straight into the next book - not so much a cliff-hanger, as in modern television, but more intrigue.

Worrals Flies Again by W.E. Johns

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Firstly let me introduce you to Flight Officer Joan Worralson, known to her friends as 'Worrals'. She is a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (W.A.A.F.) the female section of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) established in real life in 1939. From the earlier book Worrals of the W.A.A.F. we learn that Worrals's job is supposed to be ferrying aeroplanes from one airfield to another, mainly for maintenance reasons, and she was not in any circumstances to engage in combat.

The Rescue Flight - Captain W.E. Johns

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"Biggles closed the door and then faced the two junior members of his flight. 'Just what do you two fellows think you're doing here?' he asked quietly. Thirty felt the blood drain from his face. 'Doing here...' he echoed foolishly.

'Yes. Who gave you permission to wear those Uniforms?'"

As with all good writers W.E. Johns has you captured in an instant, just what is going to happen next?

Left: The 'Flying Jacket' wrappper.