My entry this week for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books is another title from the pen of Philip Macdonald, his last novel and yet possibly the most famous – The List of Adrian Messenger. The book’s celebrity derives to a large extent from the fact that it was filmed in 1963, four years after publication. George C. Scott was improbably cast as Anthony Gethryn, and the movie boasted unlikely cameos from Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum.
Messenger’s list contains the names of people who have died, over a period of time, in seemingly random fashion. What is the connection? Gethryn is intrigued, and embarks upon a quest to solve the puzzle and track down one of the most amazingly remorseless murderers in the annals of crime fiction.
I enjoyed the book as well as the film. The hook is genuinely gripping, and although the story falters a little here and there, it provides plenty of evidence of Macdonald’s storytelling gifts. Oddly, he did not write the screenplay – that was written by Anthony Veiller, about whom I know nothing.
Now, by the time you read this, I should be off on holiday for just over a week. I’ve scheduled daily posts in advance, and (provided I can master the technology….) I aim to be able to respond to comments and read other favourite blogs whilst away. Be good in my absence!