Read Strange Conflict (Duke de Richleau, #9) by Dennis Wheatley Online


Oct 1940 - 1941When the bombs fall on London the elderly Duke de Richleau considers a problem of the utmost urgency. What methods are the Germans using to discover – with sinister effect – the secret routes of the Atlantic convoys? His answer is bizarre and fantastic. The enemy are in touch with supernatural powers which can be overcome only by those who have the knowledgeOct 1940 - 1941When the bombs fall on London the elderly Duke de Richleau considers a problem of the utmost urgency. What methods are the Germans using to discover – with sinister effect – the secret routes of the Atlantic convoys? His answer is bizarre and fantastic. The enemy are in touch with supernatural powers which can be overcome only by those who have the knowledge and courage to join battle with them on the Astral Plane. The Duke and his supporters face the terrifying challenge from the Powers of Darkness....

Title : Strange Conflict (Duke de Richleau, #9)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780090020607
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 573 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Strange Conflict (Duke de Richleau, #9) Reviews

  • Edward Erdelac
    2019-03-19 23:28

    I'm a huge fan of The Devil Rides Out, the Hammer adaption of Wheatley's previous Duke de Richleau novel. Reading de Richleau is a bit like the supernatural adventures of an aged James Bond. Astral travel and occult doings among British high society. I picked this up along with The Devil Rides Out. In this outing, the Duke and his chums are called upon by British Intelligence to figure out how the Nazis are gleaning covert information on British convoy deployments. The Duke eliminates all the possibilities and then assumes it must be a Nazi agent on the astral plane. He and Marie Lou (who was a bit innocuous in the last book), herself an accomplished spiritualist, proceed to stake out a British warship and catch the Nazi spy red handed. A very cool chase ensues with the three combatants shifting into antagonistic shapes in a running pursuit across the astral plane, sort of a high speed wizards' duel (the spy for instance, shifts into a snake and plunges down a hole, the Duke dives after him, changing in mid air from a falcon to a burrowing mongoose, etc). After a rousing start however, the book sort of sags in the middle, when the Duke and friends meet up with a new ally and trace the sinister occult Nazi to Haiti. It took me quite a while to slog through the middle part of the book. I'm not sure why I had such trouble. Maybe it was the racism, something I can usually overlook when reading period fiction. Be warned, Wheatley has a lot to say about the Black Republic and its people, as well as capitulating France (there's an odd section in the middle of the book where Rex breaks off in mid-tirade and a single disclaimer taking up a whole page reads something along the lines of the text having been removed by the author rather than offend England's allies). However, toward the last third of the book when the admittedly predictable identity of the villain is revealed, I did find myself thrown for a loop by another very cool twist I didn't see coming. The final pages involve a penultimate astral showdown with the big bad, though more abstract than the previous stuff. All in all it turned out to be a good read though, ending in a neat forties admonishment that this had been but one battle in the greater war, and a soaring declaration that the forces of darkness would surely find the indomitable island of Great Britain a bastion of light for years to come.

  • Alan Smith
    2019-03-23 22:25

    I confess I have a particularly soft spot for this book. It was the first Dennis Wheatley story I ever read, and it set me on a path of DW admiration that has stayed with me ever since.I realize that when reading him today, there are certain things one has to look past. His casual racism, wherein he assumes that black people are necessarily less intelligent or decent than whites, or that just about any race in existence takes second place to the English. His class-consciousness, with its obvious belief that aristocrats are automatically braver and more resourceful than the poor. And the frequently repeated implication that a physically ugly person, or one with a disability, is automatically a bad person! But frankly, one doesn't have to get too far into the best of DW's stories to forget his faults. And to be fair, this particular story has less of these failings than some of his works. The goodies - a Franco/Russian aristocrat, a Russian Princess, a Sephardic Jew, an American and a true-blue Englishman - represent a pretty good sprinkling of the forces arraigned against the Nazi menace. And though the Haitians are represented either as evil Satanists or, more often, eye-rolling morons, one needs to remember that at the time this book was written, DW's views were more or less mainstream. What sets Wheatley apart from most other adventure authors of his time is that his heroes are not just fighting for political ends (Allies vs Axis, Democrats vs Communists, whatever) but that these struggles are just an earthly extension of the eternal battle between darkness and light, with Satan using various earthly organizations as tools of his evil will. The Nazi party are not just a group of fascists left by a madman, but the physical wing of the devil's ploy for world dominance!This novel is one of the classic examples of this philosophy. The German navy are playing merry hell with the Atlantic convoys, and if this isn't stopped, Britain will have to surrender to the evil Hitler. The Duke and his team are called in, and he soon comes to a jaw-dropping conclusion. The Nazis are obviously using magic to find out how to intercept the convoys. So off go the team to stop the rot - which, it transpires, is caused by a Voodoo practitioner on the Island of Haiti! It's a fast - very fast - paced adventure tale, with lots of suspense and action, both on the Astral Plane and the physical. As is common with this author, there's a great "info dump" with lots of occult lore and historical fact woven in, but this is well integrated, and actually helps in the pacing and suspense of the story. And right up until the final pages, it looks as if the powers of evil will win out. There are some scenes that wouldn't be out of place in a modern Oscar-winning movie, such as a fight between the Duke and the evil Voodooist, a game of tennis on the Astral Plane (truly!), a chilling scene with the goodies, protected only by a pentacle, menaced by all sorts of ab-human elementals, and a truly spectacular chase scene when the hordes of hell pursue the heroes through the spirit world. Oh, and it's got a very pretty zombie, and a guest appearance by the great god Pan, too! What's not to like???

  • Seth Skorkowsky
    2019-03-04 22:26

    This is the third of Wheatley’s Black Magic series that I have read. The Devil Rides out was very enjoyable. Gateway to Hell was OK, but nothing great. Unfortunately Strange Conflict, has been the worst of the bunch.The setup is very good. During the Blitz of the Second World War, the British supply ships are being destroyed with eerie efficiency. The Duke De Richleau deduces that the Nazis are using Black Magic to intercept the ships’ locations so that their U-boats can sink them. He gathers his usual team of friends and together they begin trying to find the evil spiritualist that is working for the Nazis and kill him. The fact that this novel was actually written during the Blitz of 1941 made it especially interesting for me, as I think of it as a little time capsule of what people thought and felt during that period in history.Unfortunately the execution of such a great premise sorely missed the mark. I have loved the Duke’s arguments about how the supernatural is real and its relation to existing religion, but for the first 30% of the novel it is almost word for word the dialogue from Devil Rides Out. The Duke spends a good portion travelling in the astral plane to find the evil sorcerer and while it was interesting, it seriously dragged.The villain is eventually located in Haiti and the heroes leave war-torn Britain for the tropics. (Again, being that the novel was written during the Blitz and for people enduring the Blitz, I’m sure it was a perfect escape for readers at that time.) There they encounter Voodoo and everything goes crashing downhill for me.I’ve praised Wheatley for his incredible research into religions and the occult. His level of detail and creating links between different beliefs is truly amazing. However at the time it was written, Voodoo was still a very unknown religion, considered savage, and hype of zombies and witchdoctors spoiled even the few anthropological studies at that time. Wheatley embraced the dark hype of voodoo and ran with it. It was obvious he had done a good amount of research (probably all that had been available), but I was very disappointed with his use of it.However, I can look past that. What I couldn't get past was the incredible racism that persisted through the story. Being an older book, I can look past quite a bit of outdated thinking. Lovecraft has never bothered me, Wheatley’s other works have never bothered me, but Strange Conflict openly treats black people as being either evil monsters, or ignorant buffoons incapable of reasonable thought. At one point Duke De Richleau says that the Anglos are the only people who can save the world.Prejudices and stereotypes aside, the book was boring. Wheatley can normally throw me for a few good loops, but this time I found most of the twists rather tedious. There were some good ones, but not enough to salvage the monotony of it. I’m very happy I accidentally skipped this book and read Gateway to Hell out of order, otherwise I would have not read the following book.The version that I read was the Audible edition read by Nick Mercer. Mercer has read the other two Wheatley books and he did a fine job with what he had. My only criticism of his narration was that the voice of Marie Lou was different.

  • Simon
    2019-03-06 19:09

    Another 1940's-penned adventure from DW which although in the edge of credibility nevertheless succeeds in building the tension and desperation of the heroes through the plot. The style is somewhat genteel in today's world but fun.

  • Kathy Davie
    2019-03-27 02:15

    Second in the Black Magic series and ninth in the Duke de Richleau series. It begins after the Germans began bombing England at the start of World War II and after the French government has collapsed.This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley for an honest review.My TakeThe accepting nonchalance of the duke and Sir Pellinore interrupting their dinner to deal with the incendiary bombs cracked me up. Then there’s the duke’s spying. I wonder if the CIA knows how much easier it is if one can travel in the astral?Hmm, it appears that de Richleau, Rex, Richard, and Simon have been up to all sorts of mischief (through the Duke de Richleau series) since The Devil Rides Out, 1 (6). Events in this first story do make it easier for the rest of Team de Richleau to buy in and help out.Although it doesn't mean that the duke is off the hook as he must again convince a nonbeliever of the existence of magic using such examples as Jesus Christ, Lao-Tze, St. Francis of Assisi, Marcus Aurelius, Herod, Cesare Borgia, etc. His explanation of Jesus walking on water and that "the Kingdom of God is within us" is quite intriguing. There’s a repeat of La Voisin and the Prince Borghese taking back his villa.I knew the swastika was an ancient symbol adopted by the Nazis, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard this explanation about it. De Richleau’s explanation of baptism is encompassing, on both sides. His explanation of reincarnation does make a lot of sense as does his explanation for why our dreams are so odd. He uses Jesus Christ as an example of choosing how one will live and/or die in one’s last incarnations. And the Admiral’s civilian dreaming is quite explicit, oh là là! The captain’s dreams are, ahem, also quite interesting. It seems he prefers the feminine form.The prejudice about black men is still here, and so very condescending. Although one particular black man does take us on a chase I would never want to experience.One of the pluses of reading an author writing contemporaneously in the 1930s means we have a primary source for the time's culture, manners, and modes of communication and travel for that time. It does make me appreciate cellphones all the more, and our current ease of air travel, despite all the security problems we have. Although it still doesn’t explain why they couldn’t simply fly to Haiti from Bermuda. Why did they have to go up to New York City??Ooh, Rex’s dad plays "mean" when he points out the propaganda value of Rex’s war injury. And Simon pulls Phillipa in to do her part.Strange Conflict is FULL of action, chase scenes, drama, and plenty of tension what with the rioting townsfolk, arson, sharks, battling off the vulnerability of sleep, and zombification…eek!…It does make sense, even if it does make me laugh, that the Haitians should appropriate the images of Catholic saints to represent their Voodoo gods. Saturday provides a synopsis of the slave rebellions on Haiti as well as why Haiti has not been able to prosper since she achieved independence.Jeez, Simon’s efforts to keep their enemy occupied are rewarded in the most horrible way as his companion’s true identity is revealed.After all the excitement in The Devil Rides Out about Rex being in love with Tanith, where is she? Rex is on his own in Strange Conflict, and there is absolutely no mention of her.It is an "adventure" that forces de Richleau to consider his life, his dabbling with Magic and that he is not quite White. I haven’t been that impressed with de Richleau’s thinking in this. He doesn’t know about Voodoo? He doesn’t consider sealing all of his friends’ nine orifices as well as his own? That bargain de Richleau made with Pan was terrifying. Which way to go?? Then there’s the reveal from the Witch Doctor…and it made such sense…Strange Conflict is an obvious propaganda piece to incite the allied population against the Germans and portray our side as allied with the side of Good. Not that that was all that difficult what with the atrocities the German armies were committing.The StorySir Pellinore is shocked at the duke’s statement as to how the Nazis are likely to be discovering the route that ship convoys are taking. But the loss of supplies is wreaking havoc in vital commodities, and Pellinore is desperate enough to try anything.Anything will include a hurried flight to Haiti in pursuit of the Thing. Luckily, Team de Richleau is rescued by Dr. Saturday and given aid for their injuries and respite for their bodies.The CharactersThe Monseigneur le Duke de Richleau, Knight of the Most Exalted Order of the Golden Fleece, a.k.a., Greyeyes, is an elderly French exile, art connoisseur, and dilettante one can count on in all things. He has studied the Right Hand Path, White Magic, but realizes he has his doubts. Max is the duke's man.Team de Richleau includes……Simon Aron, a director of a financial house in London. Rex Van Wyn, a wealthy young man who enlisted in the Royal Air Force and is an ace airman who was shot down six months ago, winning the D.F.C. for gallantry. His father, Channock Van Ryn, is a banker and runs The Chesapeake Banking and Trust Corporation. Richard Eaton is married to the Princess Marie Louise Aphrodite Blankfort De Cantezane de Schulemoff (she’s had previous experience with the supernatural and magic), and they have a daughter, Fleur. Richard was rejected as a fighter pilot, so he’s gone in for intensive farming at Cardinals Folly, their place in Worcestershire; Fleur is with friends in Scotland. Jim is a gardener; Malin is their very loyal butler as well as Richard’s valet; MacPherson is the head gardener.Sir Pellinore Gwaine-Cust, a baronet, is close to the War Cabinet; he certainly made a nice recovery from his early mistakes in the 1890s. Admiral and Captain Fennimere are the only ones who know the route the ships will take. Captain Carruthers is in charge of the convoy.Phillipa Ricardi had been a nurse, but a bomb attack has left her mute. Her father is sending her to an uncle in Jamaica.HaitiDoctor Saturday comes to their rescue. Marie Martineau is a local girl from Port-au-Prince who has been missing for some time. Her parents are quite definite that they had sent her to the good Sisters of Marseilles. Celestina, a.k.a., Our Black Joan of Arc, is a Mambo who married her goat familiar, Simalo. She was also the daughter of a crude peasant who became president, General François Antoine Simon.The Thing is the astral enemy. The Jap is a judo expert. Alfonse Rodin, a member of the Free French Forces, is his confederate.Cochon Gris, a.k.a., the Secte Rouge, is a secret society that practices cannibalism. The Bourresouse are hunters sent out to find victims on the road. Voodoo is a religion brought over from Africa almost 400 years ago and has two pantheons of Loa, gods. A Ba Moun ("Give man") ceremony is a Voodoo practice similar to selling oneself to the devil, but one becomes a Zombie instead. It’s a nasty, nasty bargain. The Rada are from the Congo and are evil with the principal gods Papa Legba, God of the Gate; Papa Loco, the God of Wisdom and Medicine; and, Baron Cimeterre, the head god, the Lord of the Cemetery, the Lord Saturday is another of his aliases. Mah-Lah-Sah is the Guardian of the Door Sill. Baron Samedi. A Houngan is its priest who lives in a Hounfort, a Voodoo temple, with his family. Hounci are Voodoo adepts who passed the first degree of initiation; Canzos have passed the second degree. The Sabreur is the sword-bearer; the Drapeaux hold the flags. A Bocor is a priest who specializes in devil-worship. The Petro are good gods from Dahomey and deities of Health, Fertility, and Sexual Virility with Dambala as its God of Gods. Baron Carrefour is the Lord of the Roads and Travel. A Mambo is a priestess. De Richleau makes a good point about the sexual aspect of Voodoo in that it is an "object for worship [and the] one pleasure which is within the reach of them all". Erzulie Frieda is a goddess in her own right, a Venus of a Mulatto who insists on an unending string of lovers.Pan is a Greek god of laughter, dancing, and lovemaking. There are seven planes or levels of consciousness: Earth is the lowest, then the normal sleep plane on up. The Left Hand Path is another phrase for black magic. A Magister Templi is a high level of mastery. A poltergeist is an elemental, which is why they can perform physical acts as opposed to those doing astral travel.The TitleThe title is all about the Strange Conflict between the duke and his friends and the Thing spying for Germany.

  • jjonas
    2019-03-23 21:13

    An entertaining occult adventure with hilarious elitist upper class characters.I liked the two previous Wheatley books I read, and this one was more or less the same. I got what I wanted.Most of what needs to be said about Wheatley's style has already been said in the other linked-to reviews, as this one was cut from the same cloth. It's hard to say how serious the elitism (and everything else that goes wit it) is, but it sure is entertaining."That a better world might emerge with the passing of the privileged caste that they [the Duke and sir Pellinore] represented, they both hoped but rather doubted, and as each was unshakeably convinced that it would not do so if the Nazis were not utterly destroyed, it is doubtful if Hitler had two more inveterate enemies. These men had lived their lives, and it meant very little to them now if they lost them. They had no jobs to lose, no favours to seek, no ambition which wasn't already satisfied, and neither acknowledged any master except the king of England."I can't really explain it, but I quite like Wheatley's writing style. I guess it's the Britishness or whatever, while at the same time he writes clearly and without trying to pretend he's doing something else than he is."From their conversation it was soon clear to the Duke that she was neither the captain's wife nor his fiancée, but that their relations had reached a degree of no uncertain intimacy was soon manifest."The book could have been a bit shorter though, the points about (view spoiler)[Haiti / voodoo etc. (hide spoiler)] could have been made with less attention dedicated to them.

  • Ralph Martins
    2019-02-24 02:21

    Read. Enjoyed.

  • Michael Ritchie
    2019-03-13 01:07

    I know Wheatley is a just supernatural pulp writer but I'm always disappointed in his books. The first one I read, The Devil Rides Out, I liked despite its flaws--mostly, being too long. This is the third I've read since then and the quality keeps going downhill, so this may be the last. The set-up is promising: during WWII, the Nazis are using a satanist to help them get secret British navy plans, and the same intrepid group of occult warriors from Devil Rides Out go to do battle on the astral plane (and later, in Haiti) for the forces of light. The first half is fun but things bog down quite a bit from halfway point. I can overlook the casual racism of the time, but not the weak writing, the cardboard characterization, and the way he drags out the action as though he was getting paid by the word.

  • Titus Hjelm
    2019-03-17 01:19

    'Strange Conflict' has all the trademarks of a genuine Wheatley book: it is racist, sexist, chauvinist, militarist, etc. On the one hand, however, this one is much better than the post WWII books where Wheatley spends most of the pages moaning about the decline of British power and regularly descends into paranoia about Commies everywhere. In this book, published in 1941, Britain was still an empire and its enemies were easy to distinguish. In this sense, the book is a much better read than the Black Magic books from the 50s and 60s. On the other hand, the wartime context makes the text much too didactic to be anything else than bad prose. Sorry.

  • Lee McGeorge
    2019-03-05 02:07

    Enjoyable Hokum.In WWII, the Duke De Richleau, a kind of supernatural James Bond, battles voodoo forces of Haiti that are astrally projecting themselves to find ships in the Atlantic and inform the Nazi's.De Richleau has the ability to astrally project as well and sets out to find who is stealing the secrets by occult means. (If he has this skill, it makes you wonder why he doesn't just astrally project into Hitler's bunker and end the war sooner)The story is fun and inventive, but sometimes the writing is over-long and tedious.A byproduct of the time it was written, the text occasionally has some eye-popping casual racism with regards to the "Negros" and "Wooglies" of Haiti.

  • David
    2019-03-27 03:37

    This was another enjoyable entry in the Black Magic series by Dennis Wheatley. It is set during the second world war and was written about this time. Some of the characters and cultural attitudes are dated and downright racist, but if you can read past this you may find this occult adventure enjoyable. There was a time when Mr. Wheatley was wildly popular but is no, sadly, all but forgotten. World of warning: the perpetually offended Social Justice Warrior types should avoid this may be 'triggering'. Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-03-21 03:17

    A vintage Wheatley... crisp action in an exotic but deadly setting and a number of resolute heroes (and heroine) that eventually triumph after a number of twists and turns... the squeamish may complain its non-p.c. but it has to be seen in context of its times - 1941 - when the outcome of the war was still in doubt.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-04 01:26

    I really enjoyed the book, lots of action and quite a page turner. I found the main characters a bit over the top, all so wholesome and wonderful with not a flaw between them, which makes it hard for me to relate to them. Also I think the age of the book shows with how wonderful England is and we are the best apparently! But don't let it put you off reading it.

  • Paul
    2019-03-08 23:09

    Slow in the first half, which recycles lots of the material from The Devil Rides Out, but picks up when the action moves to Haiti. Wheatley lays on the wartime propaganda a little too much in places, and there are some embarrassingly out-of-date ideas, bordering on racism at times.

  • Denise
    2019-02-25 21:07

    My brother brought this back from England in the 60's and it was one of the scariest books I ever read. Dennis Wheatley was ahead of his time!

  • Gloria
    2019-03-09 01:24

    One of many books from this book club and this author. Not sure when I finished this, but guessing 1973

  • Roy
    2019-02-26 01:35

    One of Wheatley better black magic novels involving Nazis in WW 2 using magic to defeat England . The Duke e Richleau to the rescue.

  • Angela Maher
    2019-03-07 01:26

    BookCrossing ID 797-10070390

  • Haneen
    2019-03-21 01:15

    very interesting material, but the plot is kinda lame

  • Gwydion
    2019-03-19 03:21

    Read this first as a teenager and thought it very exciting. Read it again recently and was disappointed that it was so melodramatic; even more than Wheatley's other occult thrillers.

  • Douglas
    2019-03-16 19:36

    I read this book years ago,but I still enjoyed it a second time.

  • Andrew Rogers
    2019-03-16 20:26

    Great read