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!