Saturday, 15 March 2014

Walter Tyrer - A Professional Job

Visitors to this blog can hardly fail to have noticed the warm regard I have for writer Walter Tyrer and the many classic stories he contributed to the Sexton Blake Library in the post-war period.

It gives me great pleasure to tell you that a previously unpublished Tyrer tale is about to see the light of the day due largely to the efforts of Keith `Chap O`Keefe` Chapman, who may be known to you for his past involvement with both the Sexton Blake Library and the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine.

It gives me even greater pleasure to tell you that I played a part in helping bring the book into the public gaze. Not in a big way, but still it`s something.

The story, entitled `A Professional Job` is not a Sexton Blake story, but is firmly in the crime/suspense category and is well worth a read.

To learn more about the unearthing of this long-forgotten gem, see my article `Walter the Wordsmith`, posted at earlier today.

Thanks to Ray Elmitt for this photo of Walter Tyrer circa 1956

Saturday, 1 March 2014

John Hunter - The Crime on the French Frontier - Sexton Blake Library - Number 312

John Hunter - The Crime on the French Frontier - Sexton Blake Library - 3rd Series, Number 312 - 1954

A slightly disappointing effort by one of the best Blake writers of the immediate post-war period.

The annoying thing about this one is that it`s a little below par whilst having a great deal going for it. The plot is great - a motorist is shot dead on the Franco-Spanish border, an old lady in England is killed with a hammer. Blake becomes involved and soon finds the two are linked.

By the standards of this kind of thing there is quite an array of characters - a husband-and-wife team of nightclub entertainers, a crooked solicitor, an alcoholic doctor, a ruthless businessman, a pair of over-ambitious hired killers. Blake is portrayed as a rather more reflective character than usual, and this adds interest.

The problem, I think is with the writing. The plot has more than its` share of action, but the writing never really brings it to life, and the feeling one gets is of a tired writer. I am not using that as a  metaphor for a world-weary hack, I actually mean a writer who happened to be tired !  This can be seen in one or two errors - using the word `surety` when he obviously means `certainty` for instance. There`s also a scene where it takes two or three sentences to explain that Blakes` assistant has witnessed certain events through an open inner door. As the reader already knows he`s in an adjacent room, a few words would have done the trick.

It doesn`t help that Hunter obviously never expected the story to fit on 64 pages (post-war austerity measures meant a reduction in size of the SBL). Consequently the typeface used is rather too small for ease of reading and even then, the story has to end on the inside back cover.

All in all, there are plenty of worse stories about, and it doesn`t need major surgery, but a Hunter on top form could have delivered it better.

Tales From the Tainted Archive

Its` always interesting to encounter another Walter Tyrer fan online, particularly when said fan is also complimentary about this blog.

Such is the case with Gary M Dobbs, who has recently blogged about the joys of finding Walters` 1952 Sexton Blake Library title  `The Hire Purchase Fraud` in a second-hand bookshop in Cardiff recently (see ) .

I`m sure Garys` blog will be of interest to many Sextonians and booklovers generally, so give it a look when you have a couple of minutes to spare.

Additionally, his comments have served to remind me that this blog hasn`t been getting my full attention lately.

There are reasons for that, but none that I choose to share with you ! Instead, I shall apply myself to the matter of rectifying the situation.

Happy detecting,


Thanks to Keith Chapman (aka Chap O`Keefe) for drawing my attention to Garys` blog.