Friday, 30 July 2010

Forgotten Book - The Man Whose Dreams Came True


My choice for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books today is The Man Whose Dreams Came True, by Julian Symons. Symons was one of the first contemporary crime writers to whom I graduated once I’d read my way through Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. A family friend lent me The Progress of a Crime, which I enjoyed, and I sought out more of Symons’ work.

I’ve forgotten much about many of the books I’ve read over the years – inevitably, I suppose. But strangely enough, I can vividly recall taking The Man Whose Dreams Came True out of our local library at Northwich, one day after school, before catching the bus home. I started reading it at the bus terminus (now, it’s a supermarket car park) and was instantly hooked.

The book was first published in 1968, and was Symons’ latest at the time I read it, so I suppose this was around 1969. I found the character of Tony Jones, a con man and dreamer with big ambitions, truly intriguing. Now I come to think of it, possibly there are traces of Tony in Guy, who features in The Arsenic Labyrinth. I do find people who fake their identities interesting, and I loved writing Guy, just as I enjoyed reading about Tony’s misadventures.

Tony gets a chance of the big time, but needless to say, things go rapidly downhill from there. This is an entertaining and cleverly plotted book, one of Symons’ best. He was a very harsh judge of his own work, but even he liked this one, and I think others will too.

8 comments:

seana said...

You know I've gotten on to Michael Innes and Edmund Crispin but I don't know that I ever really read a Symons before. Sounds like one I should correct.

Evan Lewis said...

I'm getting curiouser and curiouser about Symons. May be time to surrender and read one.

George said...

I read THE MAN WHOSE DREAMS CAME TRUE decades ago, but still have some fond memories of it. Symons is an underrated writer.

vegetableduck said...

Such a depressing book though!

Martin Edwards said...

Seana, Julian Symons is definitely very different from Crispin and Innes, but I prefer him to those two, despite their merits.

Martin Edwards said...

Evan, you will have gathered I am a fan of his!

Martin Edwards said...

George, I agree. I haven't found that many people who have read the book, but I've always rated it.

Martin Edwards said...

Curt, it is a bleak book, and Symons could write in a downbeat way, but I do think he is as ingenious a writer as most of the Golden Agers - he just put his ingenuity to different use.