First seen in A Dog Called Grk, where this lovable crossbred Jack Russell turns up at the Malts’ doorstep, Grk is a successful modern Snowy to Tim Malt’s Tintin. In the first book, only-child, Tim Malt, travels to the repressive state of Stanislavia in an attempt to find the owners of Grk and discovers that, of the family that originally owned Grk, only the two children survive, their parents having been executed by the ruthless Major Raki. (‘Grk’ rhymes with ‘book’, incidentally, and means brave, generous and foolish.)
In this fourth book of the series, Tim and Grk are hoping to enjoy a sun-soaked holiday in the Seychelles. However, unfortunately for them (but fortunately for the reader) not all is right in paradise! A half-drowned man is washed up on the beach and, with his last breath, begs Tim to rescue persons unknown from a private island owned by one of the richest men in the world, Edward Goliath.
On this island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Goliath has hatched an evil plan involving a nightmarish underground laboratory complex, where humans and animals are being ‘harvested’ in order to produce an age-defying elixir of youth, for his own selfish benefit. Unfortunately for this ‘Mr Big’, Tim Malt and Grk are about to embark on a crusade to bring about his downfall. It is this crusading attitude which makes our two heroes so endearing.
Interestingly, Trudie Styler, human rights campaigner, and wife of Sting, has bought the film rights to the ‘Grk’ series; illustrating Doder’s success in making believable the evil nature of these 21st-century baddies – unrecognisable from the unrealistic and relatively ‘nice’ ones thwarted by the Famous Five, half a century ago.