The Iron Duke by L. Ron Hubbard
He’s a lady’s man, a man’s man and a wanted man, on the run in 1930s Europe….
Meet Blacky Lee, ruggedly handsome with a quick wit and a roguish charm. Think Clark Gable with larceny in his heart and a price on his head. A price put there by the German Gestapo. But Blacky’s always got an angle, and this time it s as audacious as they come. He’ll hide in plain sight, impersonating the crowned head of a Balkan kingdom. He’ll become The Iron Duke.
Can he pull it off? Win the love of a country…and of a beautiful woman? All Blacky has to do is risk everything and, for once in his life, find a way to do the right thing. Get in on the deception as the audio version of The Iron Duke puts you in the middle of the royal con game.
To preface this review, this is the seventh book I have received for an honest review from Galaxy Audio. While they all generally have the same feel to them, my enjoyment does vary.
The Iron Duke was definitely one of the better ones. Blacky Lee and is awesomely named sidekick, Stub, are wanted by most European governments. On the run from Nazis, they end up in Aldoria (does that even exist?) where Blacky begins to impersonate the monarch, while Communists try to take over.
Most (I can’t say all because I haven’t read all) of Hubbard’s stories take place in a specific time and place. While the stories themselves are generally formulaic in terms of classic pulp fiction tropes, they are almost always ‘current’, whether in dealing with Chino-Japanese War, the beginnings of World War II, French-occupation and conflict in Northern Africa, and this one, dealing with communism before World War II. It’s really quite fascinating to gain a small understanding of how perhaps American attitudes towards these events would be through the consumption of these stories.
Because at the core of it, these stories are definitely American. Blacky fills the billet for the clever, handsome, and masculine hero. The way this and the other stories are written are that the Americans are generally the ones in the right, while the strangeness of the other nationalities generally veer towards being morally questionable.
Putting my shoddy analysis rant aside, I really liked this story for its take on politics. It was less ‘action-packed’, guns-blaring than the others. There was a real question in the middle of it which made it compelling. And while I could easily question the romance part of it by putting my twenty-first feminist hat on, I won’t. Because that’s completely unfair to the story. It is what it is, and that is an enjoyable story with great production value.
And the actor for Stub was great.
My rating: 4/5