REVIEW: Rule Britannia by Alec Marsh (Drabble & Harris #1)

Series: Drabble & Harris

Book Number: 1

Read this book for: UK mystery, period mystery, historical references, action, adventure, thriller, heroes in danger, amateur investigator

Quick Review: A period, action-packed adventure – the English Indiana Jones.


Ernest Drabble, a Cambridge historian and mountaineer, travels to rural Devon to inspect the decapitated head of Oliver Cromwell a macabre artefact owned by Dr Wilkinson. Drabble only tells one person of his plans Harris, an old school friend and press reporter.

On the train to Devon, Drabble narrowly avoids being murdered, only to reach his destination and find Dr Wilkinson has been killed. Gripped in Wilkinson’s hand is a telegram from Winston Churchill instructing him to bring the head of Oliver Cromwell to London.

Drabble has unwittingly become embroiled in a pro-Nazi conspiracy headed by a high-status Conservative member of the British government.

And so, Drabble teams up with Wilkinson’s secretary, Kate Honeyand, to find the head and rescue Harris who is being tortured for information.

RULE BRITANNIA is a brand new action-adventure thriller by Alec Marsh; a mid-1930s romp featuring a historian, a massively important historical artifact, and a few real-life characters blended in for interest.

This is the first book to be published in the series, and has enough backstory for Drabble and Harris in it that it will likely make for worthwhile reading before more novels are published.

Set in the mid-1930s and dealing in part with the 17th century, this novel has a double-dose of history. However, this is far from the history lesson that you would expect. Marsh explains the points that are essential and the story proceeds without requiring the reader to have too much knowledge of their own about the periods in question. He does throw in a few little references that are quite gratifying, including the background of a discussion over the potential marriage of the King to Mrs. Wallis Simpson, and the inclusion of Churchill looming over the plot.

Part of what keeps this story from getting bogged down in the history is the sheer volume of action. The heroes are in danger at every turn – car chases, shootouts, kidnappings, dastardly plots, and a literal army of henchmen – this is the kind of history that Indiana Jones would be most at home in. In fact this novel feels very much like an Indiana Jones movie, in pacing, plot, and even some of the elements of the plot.

That comfortably light historical setting, along with the action-packed plot, makes this more of an adventure novel that what we would normally think of as a thriller. However, that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of the book. It’s a relatively fast read, with so much happening it’s impossible to get bored.

If you’re an Indiana Jones fan, RULE BRITANNIA is definitely a novel you will want to take a look at!

Leave a Reply