Packard, Frank L. The Dragon’s Jaws. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938.
Completed: 9 October 2010
Packard certainly knows how to tell a story. This particular number wastes no time in getting started. Right off the bat we are introduced to Roy Melville, our hero, as he is presented with a conundrum. Returning to his stateroom aboard the S.S. Shansi, a “crack British liner, outward from Vancouver to Hong Kong and Manila”, Roy is presented with a letter that announces that a murder will take place on the ship to which he can do nothing to prevent. Roy is free to attempt to prevent the murder. Apparently our villain, Lan Chao-tao, knows Roy Melville and has business with him. It appears that Roy is travelling to Shanghai on some affair connected with Lan Chao-tao. But, this particular murder is a separate piece of business, unconnected with Roy’s affair. This all happens by page 6.
We have murder, kidnapping, robbery, betrayal, double-cross, love, loss, thrills and spills coming fast and thick. Packard is a master at keeping the story moving along at a nice pace. The Dragon’s Jaws is not a terribly sophisticated story, but it is a fun read. It was Packard’s second last novel.