My choice for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books today is The Man Whose Dreams Came True, by Julian Symons. Symons was one of the first contemporary crime writers to whom I graduated once I’d read my way through Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. A family friend lent me The Progress of a Crime, which I enjoyed, and I sought out more of Symons’ work.
I’ve forgotten much about many of the books I’ve read over the years – inevitably, I suppose. But strangely enough, I can vividly recall taking The Man Whose Dreams Came True out of our local library at Northwich, one day after school, before catching the bus home. I started reading it at the bus terminus (now, it’s a supermarket car park) and was instantly hooked.
The book was first published in 1968, and was Symons’ latest at the time I read it, so I suppose this was around 1969. I found the character of Tony Jones, a con man and dreamer with big ambitions, truly intriguing. Now I come to think of it, possibly there are traces of Tony in Guy, who features in The Arsenic Labyrinth. I do find people who fake their identities interesting, and I loved writing Guy, just as I enjoyed reading about Tony’s misadventures.
Tony gets a chance of the big time, but needless to say, things go rapidly downhill from there. This is an entertaining and cleverly plotted book, one of Symons’ best. He was a very harsh judge of his own work, but even he liked this one, and I think others will too.