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Biggles Sorts It Out by W. E. Johns was first published in 1967 by Brockhampton. It was the 88th Biggles book to be published. There have been seven subsequent editions in the English language, with the most recent being the 2001 paperback edition by House of Stratus. The events in the book take place in the mid-1960s in England and Namibia (then known as Southwest Africa).

SynopsisEdit

Biggles is asked to find some stolen rubies belonging to Lord Langdon but he is immediately confronted by some mysteries. Lord Langdon does not want any publicity and doesn't seem to be telling the whole truth about the circumstances of the loss. Lady Caroline, who will inherit the jewels, seems complicit in the crime. In the meantime, the prime suspect, Richard Browning, has been acting openly, selling a jewel under his real name, and flying to Southwest Africa on a trail that is all too easy to follow. Biggles and Bertie follow Browning all the way to the Kalahari Desert and discover some surprises.

The book begins with a geographical note about the Kalahari Desert.

PlotEdit

Note: The sections below contain spoilers. In particular, the plot subpage (click here) has an extended summary of the narrative in the book

CharactersEdit

The Special Air Police and Scotland YardEdit

  • Air Commodore Raymond
  • Biggles
  • Bertie Lissie
  • Gaskin

OthersEdit

AircraftEdit

  • Martin - Browning's twin engine aircraft which he bought from the Mealing Flying Club. Originally intended for charter work.

PlacesEdit

VisitedEdit

  • London
    • Fornier's of Bond Street
  • Village of Ferndale, fictitious village near Dorking, Surrey
    • Ferndale Manor
    • Ferndale Village
    • Sunnyside
  • Mealing Flying Club - near Dorking
  • Nova Lisboa (now Huambo) Angola - both Browning and Biggles refueled here on the way to Windhoek

MentionedEdit

  • Casablanca, Morocco - Browning made a transit stop here
  • Dakar, Senegal - Browning made a transit stop here
  • Brazzaville, Republic of Congo - Browning made a transit stop here

Other Research NotesEdit

References to the pastEdit

  • In Chapter 2, Biggles tells Lord Langdon that he had been to the Kalahari before. "Once. A long time ago." When? Possibly in The Unknown Diamonds.
  • In Chapter 5, Biggles doesn't want to take Algy with him to Africa because he is still recovering from his crash in India. See Biggles in the Terai.
  • In Chapter 16, while talking to Browning about the folly of trying to forget one's past through whiskey, Biggles says, "But who am I to talk? I tried it once, when I was young, and got shot down. Never again."

IncongruitiesEdit

ChronologyEdit

EditionsEdit

Biggles Sorts It Out-1967

This cover of the 1st edition depicts several scenes in the book but no aircraft. Again, one supposes the illustrator did not want to try to depict the mysterious Merlin aircraft.

1. Leicester: Brockhampton Press, 1967. 184 pages, illustrations by Leslie Stead. Blue boards.[1]

  • Dust jacket largely white, letters in dark blue, with a monochrome image of Biggles,a spear tip, and inserts of a leopard on a chain and a hand holding a bullet. Spine with pictures of excavating tools and a horse (knight chesspiece) logo with a number 77.
  • The first edition is actually quite rare. Even examples without a dustjacket can run up to about US$150.


Biggles Sorts It Out-1970

The instinctive response of any aviation enthusiast looking at this cover art is to say "Beagle Basset!" But what is this aircraft doing here?

2. Leicester: Knight Books, 1970. 158 pages, paperback. ISBN 0-340-10432-5.

  • Cover art shows a Beagle Basset climbing out above a fort. The fort represents the Fort Schwarz in the story but what is the Beagle Basset doing? It could the illustrator was trying to depict the Merlin. Or he was trying to depict the Martin, which is also plausible. In this case, it shows Browning trying to take his Martin off from inside the fort. He almost makes it but one of his propellers has been damaged by Connor's gun and the Martin will crash shortly.


3. Leicester: Knight Books, 1972. 2nd impression. Same cover with the Beagle Basset. ISBN 0-340-10432-5.


4. Leicester: Knight Books, 1974. 3rd impression reprint. New cover. ISBN 0-340-10432-5.

  • New cover art showing Biggles and Bertie examining the wreckage of the Martin. Their Merlin is in the background but is a tail-wheeler.


5. Leicester: Knight Books, 1976. 4th impression. ISBN 0-340-10432-5.


Biggles Sorts It Out-1981

For the 1979 edition, the cover illustrator has apparently decided to bite the bullet and draw a Merlin.

6. Leicester: Knight Books, 1979. ISBN 10: 0-340-10432-5 ISBN 13: 9780340104323.

7. Leicester: Knight Books, 1981. 6th impression. ISBN 10: 0-340-10432-5 ISBN 13: 9780340104323.


8. Thirsk: House of Stratus, 2002. Paperback. ISBN 10: 0-7551-0727-6 ISBN 13: 9780755107278[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. British Library UIN: BLL01009933291
  2. British Library UIN: BLL01009056245

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