Trawling through a charity shop book shelf the other day I spotted a book called ‘Dodger’. Now many of you will be familiar with the book by the late Terry Pratchett of this name. At first I assumed it was this novel in a different cover (American or Canadian publication perhaps.). I was just about to put it down as I have a copy of the said book and have read it several times. Then I noticed that the illustration on the cover was a much older character than the titular Dodger of Terry Pratchett’s imagination. Then of course I did what I should have done first, looked at the name of the author James Benmore. Was there some very heavy handed plagiarism going on here? Why had no indignant court cases been flooding the news?
Of course, on comparison the story is totally different, They both feature a main character obviously based on Dicken’s ‘Artful Dodger’ though more loosely based in Pratchett’s case. The Benmore tome, however, features a much older Dodger who has returned to London and is on a treasure hunt in his old haunts.
The Pratchett character started as a minor Discworld inhabitant who worked as a Tosher, and makes a living scouring the Ankh-Morpork sewers for useful items. It is a while since I read the book but I think the character was called Dodger. In a footnote Pratchett goes to some lengths to explain that ‘Tosher’ was a real occupation in Victorian London,. It was no surprise when the book expanding this idea (Though in a nod to Dickens Dodger is a Pickpocket and Tosher among other things.) and set in London appeared in 2012.
I am at the moment enjoying the antics of Giordano Bruno in Elizabethan Portsmouth (‘Treachery’, the last in the series.). and have just finished the Shardlake series in Henry VIII’s England so the Benmore version awaits my return from Medieval skulduggery (What do you mean did I buy it?, Of course I did.) but he is next on my reading list. Sadly Terry Pratchett will never write another ‘Dodger’ story but there is already a sequel to Benmore’s. I will see how the first goes before looking for the sequel.
I have to say that it is the first time in my reading career that I have seen two contemporary writers come up with a book of the same name and such a similar concept. Let us hope that Benmore’s is as entertaining as Pratchett’s.
I suspect I will be letting you know soon!
*****Stop Press***** Just finished the Benmore tome. Well worth a read with some Dickens references throughout. A great adventure in Victorian London.