The Vril Agenda by Derrick Ferguson and Josh Reynolds. Book review

The Vril Agenda by Derrick Ferguson and Josh Reynolds, Airship 27, p/b, $16.99/Kindle, $4.81/PDF, $3.00 from publisher’s website

Reviewed by Dave Brzeski

I’ve become quite a fan of the work of Joshua M. (Josh) Reynolds, while Derrick Ferguson is an author whose work I’d been meaning to check out for some time, so I bought a copy of this book on the day of release. Naturally, life being the way it is, it’s taken me over six months to actually get around to reading it.

‘The Vril Agenda’ is not only a collaboration by these two authors, it’s a team-up of a couple of the characters they’ve become most identified with. Dillon is the creation of Derrick Ferguson, and has featured in several books. Jim Anthony is not, however, a creation of Josh Reynolds. In fact, this character had his birth in the pulp, ‘Super Detective Magazine’, in 1940. Altus Press are in the process of collecting all the original stories, of which two volumes are currently available. Several authors have contributed new adventures to the Jim Anthony canon, but Josh Reynolds is the writer currently most associated with the character.

‘The Vril Agenda’ is set early in the career of Dillon, as he seeks out the retired, veteran pulp hero, Jim Anthony in the hope of being taken on as a student, to further his training. No sooner have the two got together, than they are attacked by a well-organised force. The question is, which one of them was the target?

We actually get two books for the price of one here, as a great chunk of the middle is a long flashback to one of Jim Anthony’s earlier cases, which could easily have been published on it’s own.

As is to be expected with a Josh Reynolds book, it’s full of subtle crossover references, many of which I’m sure I missed. Thankfully they are in no way vital to the story, nor do they hamper the flow. The most obvious of the crossovers, of course, is right up front in the title. “Vril” is a reference to the classic Bulwer-Lytton story, ‘The Coming Race’, which can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg.

It’s a fast-paced, action-packed pulp novel. The authors, and their characters, blend together seamlessly. While it’s neither the first Dillon book, either published, or chronologically, it’s a great introduction to the character. Derrick Ferguson has been added to the growing list of authors I’ll be looking out for more work by. Josh Reynolds was, of course, already on that list.

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