Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Richard Williams - Somebody Wants Me Dead - Sexton Blake Libray 4/500 1960

Richard Williams - Somebody Wants Me Dead - Sexton Blake Library - 4/500 - 1960

Credited to `Richard Williams`, this story was in fact the work of Stephen Frances, better known as Hank Jansen.

In the first part of the book, the central character is the marvellously-named Harry Snogg, a professional detective story writer, author of the hard-boiled Ryley Steele series of crime novels.

He is also as impressionable as wet putty, so when he stumbles upon an ongoing bank robbery by chance, it isn`t long before he becomes Ryley Steele - in his own mind, if not to anyone else !

Soon Sexton Blake is involved, and growing more than a little weary of hapless Harrys` attempts at sleuthing.

If the first part of the story is concerned largely with Harry/Ryley, the second is more concerned with Blake. While the first part has its` flashes of humour and the odd writerly flourish ("The first hint of approaching night blunted the brightness of the day."), the second is more terse, the action more hard-hitting.

Its` interesting how Mr Williams/Jansen seems to have adapted himself well to writing SBLs. Had I read this blindfold (so to speak), I would have assumed it was the work of W Howard Baker. Jansen was the author of another `Richard Williams` Blake tale,  The Iron Box, and that also fits seamlessly into the genre.

I`ve read this several times, which is why my copy is falling apart, and always enjoyed it. If you`re looking for a blend of humour, crime and detection, this is very likely the one for you.

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