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Literature / The Blonde Hurricane

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"The millionaire, pail in hand, halted for a second."
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A comical adventure-thriller novel written by prolific Hungarian pulp author Jenő Rejtő (and one of the few of his works to be translated into English), The Blonde Hurricane (A szőke ciklon) tells the tale of one Evelyn Weston, an impoverished English girl who suddenly finds herself in the possession of a diamond worth one million pounds... if she can find it, that is.

The diamond in question belonged to Jim Hogan, an old convict spending a life sentence in Dartmoor Penitentiary, who got it as a gift from a Russian prince for smuggling him across the Polish border during the Russian Civil War. As his only rightful possession, he hastily hid the diamond inside a clay Buddha statue adorning a toiletries box just before he was arrested by the Scotland Yard. Before his death in prison, he wills the diamond to Evelyn, the daughter of his old schoolmate and the only person who cared for him after Mr. Weston died. The only problem is that the Buddha statue, made by a ceramics manufacturer, was sold to somewhere sixteen years ago, and thus it's near impossible to find it.

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As Evelyn begins the search for the Buddha, she ends up trampling all over the life of the dour Lord Bannister, a celebrated scientist who she pulls into her adventure, and accidentally stumbles into an international case of espionage involving the disgraced Lieutenant Brandes and an undiscovered oil field in North Africa. Meanwhile, an escaped, ruthless criminal, Charles Gordon also attempts to get his hand on the diamond by tailing Evelyn with his cronies, and Eddy Rancing, a young man with a hopeless crush on her, attempts to secure the diamond for himself to earn her love by giving it to her personally, ending up in the backwater Swiss town of Mügli am See by following a false clue. Thus begins a dash for the diamond from London through Paris to Morocco.


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The Blonde Hurricane contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: For an ordinary girl from London, Evelyn quickly takes to crawling around on rooftops during a shootout or evading criminals following her.
  • The Alleged Car: Due to Evelyn's questionable driving skills, Lord Bannister's expensive Alpha Romeo is reduced to a barely-functioning trash heap on the highway from Paris to Lyon.
  • Arc Words: "Roughly one million pounds sterling" is a phrase that pops up often when the diamond is talked about.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Eddy Rancing regains consciousness in the Sahara desert to a hyena licking his face. Hyenas don't live in the Sahara, only in the sub-Saharan region.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Buddha is referred to as "a Hindu deity" at one point. He's actually a Buddhist figure, and not a deity at all.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Upon learning that the Buddha in Mügli am See is not the one with the diamond, Eddy ditches his uncle to marry Grete in his stead.
  • Berserk Button: Evelyn absolutely hates Lord Bannister's shaving kit.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Gordon and Adams team up to hunt down Evelyn, who is the key to both their objectives (the Buddha statue and the orange dossier).
  • Breaking Point: Evelyn eventually gets fed up with Lord Bannister's shaving kit and cuts it off his camel, leaving it in the desert. It ends up saving Eddy Rancing's life when he finds it dying of thirst and drinking the mouthwash.
  • The Cavalry: Holler ends up saving Evelyn and Lord Bannister by leading Moroccan Spahis to liberate Mahrbuk Oasis from Adams' men.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lord Bannister's shaving kit which ends up saving Eddy Rancing's life when he's dying in the desert. It also happens to have contained the Buddha statue all along.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Eddy Rancing's ability to communicate in Morse code using light signals saves everyone when he warns Mahrbuk Oasis of Adams' coming with a flashlight and Lord Bannister's shaving mirror.
  • Comic Relief: The (relatively) more serious episodes about Evelyn's adventures are interspersed with sequences of Eddy Rancing trying to find the (wrong) Buddha in Mügli am See.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Evelyn just so happens to attempt her Delivery Guy Infiltration when Wilmington and Adams discuss the fate of Lieutenant Brandes and the orange dossier. Later she escapes from the house and just so happens to run into Lord Bannister.
    • Eddy Rancing finds Lord Bannister's dropped shaving kit in the desert, completely by accident.
  • Cool Car: Lord Bannister's brand new, large black Alpha Romeo. That is, until Evelyn reduces it to The Alleged Car.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Mr. Knickerbock, the paper-pusher who handles the sales logs of the Longson & North ceramics manufacturer, accepts a bribe of 50 pounds from Evelyn and her mother to sell them the 1922 sales log which contains a clue to the Buddha's location. Later Eddy Rancing further bribes him with 400 pounds to sell him the same sales log, at which point he gives him a different log with the 1922 label glued on. When Gordon also wants the 1922 log from him, he's forced to admit the fraud. Gordon promptly takes the 450 pounds from him and beats him up.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Lord Bannister accidentally crashes into Evelyn while boarding a ship across the La Manche Channel, their first meeting out of many to come.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Grete owns a truly absurd amount of cats. None of them are nice.
  • Crossing the Desert: Evelyn and Lord Bannister have to cross the Sahara on camelback to reach the oasis where Lt. Brandes is stationed. Gordon and his company follow them as well.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The picky, Neat Freak Lord Bannister turns out to have served in the war, and knows his way around a rifle, as it turns out during the siege of Mahrbuk Oasis.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lord Bannister relates to Evelyn repeatedly pulling him along on several chases with dry sarcasm.
  • A Degree in Useless: Evelyn studied philosophy in university, and found herself in poverty in short order.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Evelyn impersonates a delivery maid at one point to gain access to Wilmington's house where she suspects the diamond to be.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: An obligatory haggling scene occurs between Holler and an Arab salesman in Marrakech when he buys desert wear for Evelyn.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The "Paris-Lyon highway" sequence is essentially a long set of jokes centered around Evelyn's terrible driving.
  • Dumb Blonde: Downplayed. Evelyn is indeed blonde, and somewhat of The Ditz, but she's far from dumb.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And they indeed do.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Corned-Beef, one of Gordon's lackeys, apparently named so because he's "cold and dumb".
  • The Fall Guy: Holm, Lt. Brandes' beloved younger brother was set up as the thief of the orange dossier so that Brandes would take the blame to protect him. Thus, Holm was the fall guy towards Brandes, and Brandes towards the rest of the world.
  • Five-Man Band: The Gordon/Adams teamup and their lackeys.
  • Foreshadowing: In Marrakech, Holler mentions to Evelyn that "Bannister" is not his real name, it was only granted to Lord Bannister by the lordship. Later it turns out that his real name is Henry Brandes and he's Lt. Brandes' brother.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Lord Bannister, the refined researcher of sleeping sickness/trypanosomiasis.
  • Gold Digger: Rare Male Example. Out of options, Eddy attempts to secure the Buddha by marrying Grete.
  • Gonk: Everyone in Mügli am See; the narration describes the supreme ugliness of the inhabitants of the small Swiss town with loving detail.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gordon is instantly recognizable from the massive scar deforming his nose.
  • Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: With the authorities closing in on him, Jim Hogan had to think fast as resorted to hiding the diamond in a Buddha statue, which is then sold to France.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lord Bannister initially bears his run-ins with Evelyn with resigned stoicism, but eventually throws himself into incredible peril to protect her, mostly out of chivalry but eventually out of love.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: Corned-Beef tails Evelyn across Paris while dressed in a garishly colorful coat and a monocle. Evelyn spots him almost immediately.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Editor Holler, Lord Bannister's annoyingly nosy acquaintance.
  • Laughing Mad: Eddy Rancing's reaction to finding the Dreaming Buddha while dying of thirst in the Sahara desert.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Adams attempts to pull this on Evelyn and Gordon after they eavesdrop on him discussing the orange dossier with Wilmington.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Lt. Brandes turns out to be Lord Bannister's brother.
  • Lurid Tales of Doom: Holler wildly misinterprets the effects of sleeping sickness in his articles for the sake of sensation, much to Lord Bannister's chagrin.
  • MacGuffin: The "Dreaming Buddha" statue, containing the diamond of Prince Radzovill. Also the orange dossier containing the map to an oil field in North Africa.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Evelyn becomes this to Lord Bannister, mostly by accident, when she hides from Gordon in his cabin, and later on pulls him along her search for the diamond. At one point he notes that she exists in either of three states: she either flees from pursuers, cries or sleeps.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: Once again, the diamond.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Lord Bannister's illustrious friends mistake Evelyn for his wife... which is unfortunate, since he's just divorced his actual wife in utmost secret. They eventually end up getting actually married.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Adams mistakes Evelyn and Gordon (who both try to find the Buddha statue in Wilmington's house) for intelligence agents working for some foreign power, because they were accidentally present when he discussed the orange dossier with Wilmington.
    • Later on, Evelyn is trumpeted as a spy in the newspapers for being present at the shootout on Rue Mazarin and taking the orange dossier.
  • Mood Whiplash: Rainer is the master of derailing conspiratorial meetings between the criminals with mind-bogglingly trivial questions, such as asking if the restaurant where they covertly meet has good coffee.
  • Neat Freak: Lord Bannister hates being unshaven, to the point where Evelyn accuses him of valuing cleanliness above any noble cause.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Almost. Evelyn throws away Lord Bannister's hated shaving kit into the desert, which turns out to have contained the Buddha statue all along. Thankfully, Eddy Rancing finds it on their trail.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Mügli am See is such a boring hole that the populace gathers on the streets to gawk when the fire department mobilizes to get Eddy Rancing off the roof.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Marrakech colonial offices are full of these, and Evelyn nearly loses Lt. Brandes' trail while trying to get his whereabouts from them.
  • The Old Convict: Jim Hogan, the old criminal who willed the diamond to Evelyn before dying in prison.
  • Phantom Thief: Mercilessly parodied with Eddy Rancing's attempts to steal the Buddha from Grete. Every attempt he makes at sneakily burgling the statue turns into an Epic Fail.
  • Police Brutality: The police hold a raid on Rue Mazarin to capture Adams and Wilmington, and kill and beat up several innocents in the process.
  • Price on Their Head: A bounty of 100 000 francs is put on Evelyn's head after she takes the dossier.
  • Psycho for Hire: Gordon, Adams and their cronies hire 30 Arab murderers to wait for Evelyn in the Sahara and later besiege Mahrbuk Oasis.
  • Pursued Protagonist: Evelyn, for the majority of the story.
  • Red Herring: Eddy Rancing follows a completely different Buddha statue which has no diamond inside it but was also sold by Longson & North, and thus ends up in the backwater Swiss town of Mügli am See.
  • Running Gag: Lord Bannister likes to keep himself tidy and clean, and his continous insistence to shave eventually becomes a Berserk Button for Evelyn.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: Before the flight to Morocco, Evelyn accidentally switches the bag containing the orange dossier with Lord Bannister's shaving kit.
    • Later she does it again before departing to the desert.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Lord Bannister and Evelyn, respectively.
  • The Scrooge: Eddy Rancing's uncle, Arthur is filthy rich, but he's unwilling to pay 2000 pounds to Mr. Wollishoff to secure a diamond worth one million pounds.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In a sense. Evelyn fleeing all over Europe and North Africa turns out to be pointless as the Buddha was in Lord Bannister's shaving kit all along - that said, she does end up saving Lieutenant Brandes' honor so it wasn't all in vain.
  • She's Got Legs: Evelyn, according to the covernote  of the audiobook version.
  • Spit Take: Lord Bannister's reaction to reading the newspaper which call Evelyn a spy.
  • Spoiler Cover: The cover of the audiobook version spoils that the Buddha was in Lord Bannister's shaving kit all along.
  • Stern Chase: Evelyn is pursued across most of Europe and North Africa by Gordon, Adams and their cronies in search of both the diamond and the orange dossier.
  • Take That, Us: When Adams the spy describes how Wilmington got hold of the orange dossier, Wilmington says he should write spy fiction books with such a vivid imagination.
  • The '30s: Set in 1938.
  • Title Drop: Lord Bannister likens Evelyn to a "blonde hurricane" at one point for her repeated tendencies to turn his life on its head.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Specifically, a diamond the size of a walnut, which used to adorn the crown of the old czars.
  • The Vamp: An exotic dancer called Ethel Ardfern seduced Lieutenant Brandes' younger brother as part of the orange dossier's theft. He was pinned as the thief and later killed.
  • The Unfettered: Gordon will stop at nothing to get the diamond, even if it means riding into the Moroccan desert or teaming up with an international spy.
  • Values Dissonance: Lord Bannister's research is implied to concern scientific racism, as it's mentioned that he has written papers on the racial effects of trypanosomiasis. Then again it's possible that said papers argue against racism, as their contents aren't described.
  • Wham Line: Lord Bannister's declaration that the Buddha is in his shaving kit, which Evelyn threw away into the desert.

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