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Born into poverty as an illegitimate London child, Wallace left school at 12. He joined the army at 21 and was a war correspondent during the Second Boer War for Reuters and the Daily Mail. Struggling with debt, he left South Africa, returned to London and began writing thrillers to raise income, publishing books including The Four Just Men (1905). The novel opens with the murder of a millionaire, the ramifications of which will be felt throughout the book. So far so good. In chapter two, we meet the heroine of the tale, Oliva Cresswell. She lives in a London apartment building, sandwiched between two mysterious floormates, one an American drunkard, Mr. Beale, the other an unconvincingly Dutch physician, Dr. Van Heerden. The story revolves around a terrorist plot....