Philip Macdonald is a crime writer whose career spanned from the Golden Age to the post-war era, from 1920s London to Hollywood. He wrote some remarkable, if often slapdash, mysteries, and his gift for plot and suspense can be seen in his work on the brilliant screenplays for Rebecca and Forbidden Planet.
I could choose any one of a dozen Macdonald titles for my latest entry in Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books, but today I’ve opted for The Nursemaid who Disappeared – also known as Warrant for X.
Sheldon Garrett overhears two people in a teashop, apparently planning a serious crime. Scotland Yard are not interested, so he approached Macdonald’s regular amateur sleuth, Anthony Gethryn, who uncovers a dastardly kidnapping plot.
It’s a lively thriller, rather than a conventional whodunit like the early Gethryns. The story was rather well filmed in 1956 (with Van Johnson as a blind protagonist) as 23 Paces to Baker Street. The movie had a much-changed story – and no Gethryn. Oddly, the screenplay was not written by Macdonald but by the even more accomplished Nigel Balchin. Balchin was a writer so fascinating that he deserves a post to himself one day. Maybe more than one.