Montmorency on the Rocks
Montmorency and the Assassins
|Genre||Adventure, crime, historical, mystery, spy fiction|
|Published||2003 to 2013|
|Media type||Print (hard, softcover), Audio|
The Montmorency series, or simply Montmorency, is a series of five Victorian era crime novels written by Eleanor Updale and published by Scholastic from 2003 to 2013. It features Montmorency, an English ex-convict turned spy for whom both the first book and the series are named. The first book is set in London, frequently in its sewers, and London remains a primary setting. The latest novel was released in 2013 after a six-year break.
- Montmorency, an ex-convict-turned-gentleman, he works for the British government as a spy
- Scarper, Montmorency's thief alter-ego
- Lord George Fox-Selwyn
- Dr Robert Farcett
- Mr Longman
- Lady B
- Mrs Evans
- Vi Evans
- Freakshow, publicly known as 'The Hopping Horror'
Montmorency on the Rocks
Five years after the first book ended, Montmorency, the ex-thief and liar, and Lord George Fox-Selwyn have long become established as undercover agents for the British Crown. Through their numerous dangerous exploits in the far reaches of war-torn Europe, the two men have come to depend on each other for their sacred lives.
The book begins in the aftermath of dangerous intelligence gathering trip in Turkey, where George Fox-Selwyn has come to note that among fine art pieces and Turkish rugs, Montmorency has also picked up a strange Turkish drug.
By the time the agents return to London, Montmorency is heavily addicted to the drug. The drug has severely affected his character and influenced his judgment, frequently landing Fox-Selwyn and himself in danger as well as leaking state secrets.
Meanwhile, Dr Robert Farcett accidentally kills one of his patients in an unnecessary gall bladder removal, in front of a live audience in an operating amphitheatre. Sickened that his ethics have been overshadowed by his ambition, Farcett resolves to leave his practice.
With Farcett about to give up medicine, and Montmorency near death from his drug addiction, Fox-Selwyn decides that the only way to save them both is to reunite the two men.
Fox-Selwyn invites his both Farcett and Montmorency to his family castle in Scotland, owned by his brother Augustus Fox-Selwyn (Gus). By bringing both men to the open air of Scotland, he hopes that Farcett will be able to cure Montmorency of his addiction, and regain his own confidence in medicine.
Arriving in Scotland's Glendarvie Castle,[clarification needed] Montmorency suffers from severe drug withdrawal. Barely conscious, he is reintroduced to Farcett who helps rehabilitate him from the addiction. From Farcett's accounts on Prisoner 493 and Fox-Selwyn's portrayal of Montmorency, the men begin to gain a complete picture of Montmorency's bizarre past.
As the three friends spend time in Scotland, the bombing of a London train station[clarification needed] summons Fox-Selwyn back to England. Too weak to travel, Montmorency joins Farcett in escorting a young maid named Morag from the castle to Tarimond,[clarification needed] a remote island in the Scottish Isles,[clarification needed] following the death of her younger brother.
On the island Tarimond, of Doctor Farcett is mystified by an unknown agent that has been killing an entire generation of children. Working with Maggie Goudie, the island's school teacher and midwife he tries to get to the heart of the mystery.
After a period of recovery, Montmorency and Farcett are summoned back to London by Fox-Selwyn to assist in the investigation.
The trio encounters Vi Evans, the daughter of Scarper's old land-lady, and finds her to be a key witness in the case. The lives of Scarper and Montmorency now intersect, and Montmorency reveals his criminal past and bizarre background to Fox-Selwyn, Farcett and Vi . Outside a second terrorist bombing takes place.
Through evidence provided by Vi and Scarper's skills the investigation comes to a close as the bombers are caught, and the three return to Tarimond with Vi for celebration.
Over the course of the adventure, the three men become close friends with Vi. The book ends with the announcement that Vi is pregnant.
Montmorency and the Assassins
This is the third book in Eleanor Updale's series and takes place twenty years after the events of the first book.
Montmorency and his friend Lord George Fox-Selwyn are on a leisurely assignment, searching for missing scientific specimens in Italy. They discover them to be hidden at La Specola, the natural history museum in Florence. The curator helps them with their quest. They are also visiting George's brother and nephews, Frank and Alexander. Frank uncovers a gang trying to take down the aristocrats but doesn't realize how dangerous they are until he hurts someone unintentionally and has to flee the country with his family so he doesn't make them look bad. Events lead one to another, and eventually an anarchist plot is revealed to be in its most dangerous stages.
Meanwhile, Dr Farcett is busy working on Tarimond with Maggie on his new X-ray machine. Vi and her son Tom live on Tarimond, where Tom wonders about who his father might be. (The book hints at various people who could be Tom's father, including Montmorency, George, Dr Farcett, and even George's butler.) All of them help Montmorency and George try to stop the anarchists' terrible plan. Frank, also in Florence with his family on vacation, is swept into the anarchists plot when his friend Guido pushes him to help him in one of the attacks. One of the anarchist safe havens appears to be centered in Paterson, New Jersey, so Montmorency, Farcett, and company go to America. Farcett, however, leaves right before a message concerning Maggie. The letter describes how she became sick and succumbed to a mysterious illness, later revealed to be radiation poisoning. A man named Bayfield houses Montmorency and company in their stay. Montmorency has a brief courtship with one of Bayfield's wife's friends. It ends when it is revealed that Montmorency is Tom's father. The anarchist plans in Italy and Britain end in failure. However, each of the characters is scarred emotionally. Farcett receives news of Maggie's death, right before he was about to set off to Tarimond to propose to her. Tom still does not know that Montmorency is his father. When Montmorency is receiving his congratulations from Lord Astleman, the man who sent the two to get his missing experiments, Lord George Fox-Selwyn is mysteriously missing. When Astleman is opening two new experiments, the second is revealed to be George himself. He was shot and delivered to Astleman by none other than the curator of La Specola. He was working with the anarchists all along. Montmorency, in the last chapter of the book, vows revenge on Fox-Selwyn's murderer.
The fourth book in the series was released in March 2007, and takes place about a year after the events of Montmorency and the Assassins. In this book, Montmorency heads to London to seek out those responsible for the death of Lord George Fox-Selwyn at the end of the previous book, assisted by George's nephew, Francis, taking on the disguise as Jack Scarper. Meanwhile, Robert Farcett, has become obsessed with cleaning after the death of Maggie Goudie on Tarimond. To assist Robert Farcett and protect Francis, Robert is sent to an asylum to be treated under the guise of Francis Fox-Selwyn, to throw off the terrorists. He is accompanied by Vi and her and Montmorency's son Tom, who finally learns the truth about his real father, Montmorency. After being attacked by one of the anarchists Montmorency is left near death and recovers slowly as the anarchists responsible for several assassinations, and George's death, flee to America. Montmorency and Jack (Frank) go to America, where they track down Moretti in a library, where he accidentally kills himself. Afterward, Montmorency asks for a hand in marriage. She says yes but Montmorency insists on writing down his life story, as he is doing so a man in a black cape walks into the room and Montmorency feels a gun against the back of his head.
The fifth and final book in the series was released in 2013. It picks up immediately after the events of book four and chronicles the fallout from the events therein. Armitage blackmails Montmorency into serving as bait to lure Malpensa to New Jersey, forbidding him to relay the information that Malpensa is on the loose in America and not, as was previously thought, under lock and key in Scotland. Robert Farcett is also ensnared in Armitage's web of lies to serve to bait Malpensa and keep Montmorency in line, under the guise of studying the psychology of the local silk factory's Italian immigrant population. Montmorency's inability to explain the situation to his friends creates an emotional rift between them leading Tom to run away and explore the Canadian wilderness as an apprentice filmmaker, and pushes Mary away. Eventually, Montmorency makes an appearance in a parade to lure out Malpensa, who is killed. Montmorency and company return to London, enjoying a dinner party at Bargles where he catches up on family gossip, including the birth of Alex Fox-Selwyn's twins while continuing to hide his deep emotional turmoil. It is then revealed that Armitage has been intercepting his letters to Mary in order to prevent Montmorency from explaining himself and healing the rift in their relationship caused by events surrounding Malpensa. This leads to her wedding Bayfield, the owner of the silk factory. Montmorency elects not to intervene and leave her to a life in America. He receives an offer of work from an American Secret Service man named Fraser at Bargles and keeps it in mind for later, though he is leery of returning to America lest he cross paths with Armitage again. The novel closes out on Montmorency taking a tour of London to see how the city has changed in his absence and walking off down the street alone.
The books received positive reviews. For the most part, it has been recommended by educators and critics for a teenaged audience, although some reviews recommended it for adults.
The novels have been translated into several languages, most recently Portuguese.
Montmorency and the Assassins was chosen as the "Best Book for Teenagers" by the New York Public Library.
- 2003 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, silver runner-up in category 9- to 11-year-old readers, Montmorency
- 2004 Blue Peter Book Award, The Book I Couldn't Put Down, Montmorency
- Medway Award
- Southern Schools Book Award
- Library Thing page for the first book in the series
- Library Thing page for the second book in the series
- Library Thing page for the third book in the series
- Library Thing page for the fourth book in the series
- Fantastic Fiction page for Eleanor Updale and all her works