Thursday, 15 April 2010

Send for Paul Temple


Send for Paul Temple, the very first Paul Temple serial, is now available on CD, and I enjoyed listening to it in the car. It’s not the original version, which presumably has been lost, but rather a truncated version read (very well, I thought) by Anthony Head.

This story introduces Temple, who is at this point living in a country house near Evesham. He is a journalist turned best-selling detective novelist, who has made his name as a sleuth by solving a real-life crime. When a series of jewel robberies take place which baffle Scotland Yard, a media campaign demands that the police should send for Paul Temple to help them solve the mystery.

It turns out that this campaign has been orchestrated by a gorgeous young journalist called Steve Trent, who turns out to be Louise Harvey, the sister of a detective who is murdered in a mysterious inn, The Little General, shortly after talking to Temple. Louise disguised her identity because her brother was afraid that a villainous diamond thief, ‘the Knave of Diamonds’, whom he encountered in South Africa would murder him – and it seems that the Knave is now back in business in England. Soon it becomes clear that (somehow, I don’t know how) he has penetrated the highest ranks of the police.

The plot is, if viewed in the cold light of day, quite barmy. Durbridge was only 25 when he wrote the serial, and some elements of the story seem juvenile to the modern crime fan. And yet there is a zest about the story, with its dying messages, secret lift and passage, and brainless Chief Commissioner of Police and other detectives, that makes it lively entertainment. For me, the Paul Temple serials are something of a guilty pleasure, but for all the creakiness of the dialogue and plot devices, they certainly are a pleasure.

9 comments:

aguja said...

Having discovered your blog today, I am intending to follow it as I love detective and crime novels. I shall look for your work, too.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I haven't read a mystery in a long time that's a find-the-jewel-thief type novel! That sounds like a nice break from murder. :) Thanks.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

chasingbawa said...

I don't really listen to audio books/plays but I'm tempted to listen to Paul Temple. Sounds very golden-age.

Fiona said...

Oooh, that sounds fun! I vaguely remember Paul Temple on the radio when I was very young (my mother and elder sister were keen fans) and I have a double cassette of one of the original recordings. I love Anthony Head (though I always think of him with a jar of coffee ;))so might have to track this down.

And I'm old enough not to worry about illogical plots...

Anonymous said...

But I loved the dramatized Paul Temple series in the 60-ies! (which I as a Swedish teenager could follow.) Temple was portrayed by Peter Cook. Who I assumed was the same person as the famous comedian? (well to ME he was Paul Temple. So there.)
Now I feel inspired by Stieg Larsson. (who to my astonishment let Lisbeth Salander be my neighbourgh!) (in Stockholm.) I´ve been thinking of writing a novel about Jack the Ripper. (haha how original.) But I know who he was! (I think.) (a peripheral nobody that neither the police OR anyone else payed much attention to.)
But who was he?? (haha I won´t let you pinch my idea.) (boasting: Judi Dench said she was very impressed with my English. Should I venture my crime d├ębut in your delightful and civilized lingo?)
Greetings from 60 y.o. musician and music-writer
P.S. Another great idea for a crime story: a murder takes place in an old peoples home. The little old lady in a wheel-chair who everyone thinks is senile isn´t senile at all. She wheels around the place nights and discovers things! (which leads to the discovery of the murderer.) (might have been my mother. Actually.)

Martin Edwards said...

Aguja, welcome! I hope you continue to find the blog interesting.

Martin Edwards said...

Chasinbawa, it is very Golden Age - in style, if not in terms of whodunnitry. Durbridge wasn't much like Christie, but I do find his stories entertaining in a breezy way.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Fiona - fun is the right word! And even if Durbridge isn't a great literary stylist, there's nothing wrong with fun.

Martin Edwards said...

Hello Anonymous, nice to receive your comment. The care home story reminds me slightly of By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Christie. It is an interesting setting for a story, I certainly agree.