Friday, 28 August 2015

Forgotten Book - Send for Paul Temple

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.


12 comments:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Excellent to know they are out again - I have only ever listened to the audio and thanks for all the extra detail (just heading off to consult the Barnes book myself).

Fiona said...

Oh, this sounds great! Going straight on my TBR list - and I must remember to tell my older sister about them. I only vaguely remember the originals on the radio and was too young to appreciate them, whereas they were unmissable for my mother and sister.

Richmonde said...

I've just listened to a couple of non-Temple Durbridges read by Greg Wise - despite his usual formulae they are very enjoyable, and Wise reads well. Hope he does some more mysteries!

Jamie Sturgeon said...

Martin, Charles Hatton was born in Stourbridge in 1905. He was a playwright including many radio plays. He was also an author and journalist. He wrote some of the scripts for The World of Tim Frazer. I have read several Francis Durbridge and the vary from the very good (The World of Tim Frazer) to the terrible (Paul Temple and the Harkdale Robbery) - I think that Durbridge may have employed different authors to novelize his various TV series, hence the variation in quality. A few years ago I found on the internet an obscure writer claiming he had done some ghost writing including a paperback original for Francis Durbridge - unfortunately I can't remember his name

Martin Edwards said...

Fiona, they are great fun. I've heard some of the originals on CD, and they are very well done.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Richmonde. Among the non-Temples, I can recommend Bat out of Hell especially highly. Brilliant twisty plot.

Martin Edwards said...

Jamie, that's fascinating -thanks very much. Good point regarding the novelisations. Just as I loved the TV version of Bat out of Hell, so I thought the novel was especially well done, and on the whole superior to the typical Durbridge. Maybe a clue to the input of someone else?

Jamie Sturgeon said...

Martin, I have found the website for the ghost-writer, his name is John Garforth, see: https://johngarforth.wordpress.com/writer-hack-writer-and-jobbing-playwright/

Martin Edwards said...

Well found, Jamie!

dfordoom said...

Send for Paul Temple will definitely be added to my shopping list. Coincidentally I bought the TV series on DVD a couple of days ago.

Paul Taylor-Greaves said...

Well, thanks to this blog post I bought Send for Paul Temple and Paul Temple and the Front Page Men. I rocketed through them and I think they'll be a guilty pleasure for me too. I've heard the radio serials, seen the films and have the Francis Matthews DVD set but for some reason had never read the novels. Thanks for flagging up the reissues as I will be getting the set. I have to say though that I preferred Front Page Men...

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks,both. Paul, delighted you are enjoying these books.