I've mentioned before that Francis Durbridge's Paul Temple is one of my guilty pleasures. I'm delighted to say that Harper Collins have just reissued five early Paul Temple books - all adapted from radio serials, - and I've just gulped down the first of them, Send for Paul Temple, my Forgotten Book for today. I'd previously listened to an audio version of this story, but it was still an entertaining example of the ripping yarn. Durbridge was no Tolstoy, but he knew how to keep his readers/listeners interested.
There's a mystery, incidentally, about the authorship of this book. What happened was that Durbridge, a young man of 25, created Paul Temple for the radio,and the success of this story prompted thousands of listeners to demand more of the same - suffice to say that Durbridge certainly obliged them, as Temple became an immensely popular long-running character. Durbridge also turned the story into a novel, but for that he had a co-writer, John Thewes, who seems rather to have been airbrushed from history.
I've consulted Melvyn Barnes, the greatest authority on Durbridge, and he is fairly sure that Thewes was a pen-name for Charles Hatton, who co-wrote several Temple books as Hatton. But why he adopted a pen-name for one collaboration and not others is unclear. Or maybe Charles Hatton was another pseudonym? Possibly he worked for the BBC, but information about him is scant.I, and indeed Melvyn, would be glad to learn more
One of the reasons I mention this little mystery, by the way, is that I've recently been sent some fascinating info about Gerald Findler, the ultra-obscure author of a story I included in Resorting to Murder. Not even that legendary mine of information Bob Adey had been able to trace any details about Findler, but a correspondent has now told me quite a bit about him. So often, interesting know-how is out there; the challenge is to get hold of it. But the internet, for all its quirks and unreliability, does make the task easier.
Anyway, back to Paul Temple. Scotland Yard is baffled by a series of jewel robberies in the Midlands. The only clue is the dying words of two members of the gang who helped with "inside jobs" before being murdered for their pains. But what is the significance of the words "The Green Finger"? The Press campaign noisily for Temple, a wealthy writer and criminologist, to be consulted by the Yard.
Soon the great man finds himself in the thick of it. Luckily, he meets a pretty and dynamic blonde reporter who uses the alias Steve Trent, and has her own reasons to help him. In the course of their attempts to solve the mystery, they fall in love. As we now know, they lived happily - and very adventurously - ever after.