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THE DINOSAUR'S EGG. by Edmund Candler. E. P. Dutton and Company, New York. 1926. $2.50.

By J. B. K. .

THE English being notoriously an incomprehensible race, Americans must be content with understanding that they cannot understand them. This book is as English as Huntley and Palmer's. Its jokes are English in their unobstrusive dreariness. Its pages abound with Dickensy eccentrics and Arch bald Marshallish country life, and, in addition, there is an unmistakable flavor of Kipling and Ian Hay and Conan Doyle.

There is a type of after-dinner story in which the Englishman delights that works up a situation and then slides away gently from underfoot, leaving the audience asking helplessly: "Why is a mouse when it spins?"; and "The Dinosaur's Egg" turns this technique into presumably formal fiction. The author starts several things and when within view of the prey sits down and lights a cigarette. Uncle Bliss, a big-game hunter who calmly takes a snifter out of his pocket flask at a strictly temperance dinner, goes to Africa hunting pterodactyls. He encounters something big and snaky that might as well be a pterodactyl as anything else and shoots it, whereupon it sinks to the bottom of the river. Uncle Bliss catches malaria and goes home without it to England. He doesn't even die, after the reader is expecting it impatiently, so that the nice English family in the story can solve their financial difficulties with his money. And the head of the nice family, after refusing to be Uncle Bliss' English agent (for he is Anglo-Saxon and independent) comes home from France with the family and becomes Uncle Bliss' agent without a quiver. The book doesn't prove a thing: first impressions to the contrary, it doesn't even try to. Perhaps that is why it makes passable, sometimes delightful reading.

Then, the people are charming, even though they flit in and out of the plot without rhyme or reason. They live in nice places, picnic and go trout-fishing whether at home or in the Pyrenees for financial reasons, have their jokes and family catch-words in a delightful idyllic existence. If a reader is reconciled to a purposeless book that smells of what the English country life should be (and the combination has refreshing elements) the flavor of "The Dinosaur's Egg" is sufficiently delicate to make one wish that such eggs were a staple commodity on the market.

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