Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Man Who Could Not Sleep

Michael Gilbert’s versatility continues to astonish me, the more I think about what he achieved as a crime writer whilst also working as a partner in a major law firm. I’m a long-time fan of his writing, and so I was delighted to lay my hand on another posthumous collection edited and introduced by John Cooper and published by Robert Hale.

The Man Who Could Not Sleep and other mysteries is remarkable because it contains not short stories but two lengthy radio plays, plus two synopses for radio plays that Gilbert never managed to bring to fruition. Cooper lists the work that Gilbert did for radio and TV, and it’s a CV that would be impressive even if he’d never written all those fine novels and short stories.

The ‘man who could not sleep’ is, as anyone who has read Gilbert’s splendid Smallbone Deceased will know, the lawyer Henry Bohun. I’ve always felt that Bohun was one of Gilbert’s best characters, and it’s a pity he is not better known, and did not appear more often.

I was intrigued that one of the synopses was for a play about football. It’s not easy to write fiction about sport, though I’ve written a couple of short stories with football themes. My first ever full length novel was about football, too. It was never published, just as Gilbert’s play was never broadcast. In my case, it was just as well!


Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - You have brought up one of the really talented crime fiction authors. I like Gilbert's work very much, so it's nice to be reminded of him.

Bill Carlin said...

I really must read more of Michael Gilbert's novels. His "Calder & Behrens" short stories were always quirky, original and supremely entertaining. "Death in Captivity" was also a very novel twist on the "country house mystery": a murder in a p.o.w. camp long, long before "Hart's War"!

Bill Carlin said...

Another author to revisit. It sounds like a fascinating collection. Any time I've read Michael Gilbert's work I've found it strikingly original. The "Calder & Behrens" short stories were quirky explorations of the spy story which fuelled my addiction to EQMM. "Death in Captivity", where a POW camp setting allowed a spin on the traditional "country house mystery", impressed me far more than the much later film "Hart's War". Come to think of it this would be ideal for an ITV Sunday night drama.

aguja said...

I enjoyed reading your post. As always, I find them really interesting, although I do not always comment. I am not so well up on crime fiction, but love hearing about the variety of books you choose to mention.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, Aguja, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.
Bill, I agree about Calder and Behrens. And it was great to meet you at Crimefest.