News of Paul Temple is an exciting adventure mystery of the kind that doesn't quite reach the intellectual heights of Conan Doyle, or the panache of Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers. Car crashes, explosions, poisonings, shootings, death by fire and by drowning are just some of the dangers the intrepid hero Paul Temple faces as he (without intending to become involved) brings down the most sophisticated espionage ring in Europe.
The original Paul Temple -- which my parents enjoyed as teenagers -- was a full cast production, in the glory days of radio before television was widely available. This audio book is read and narrated by a single actor -- which might seem like a bit of a disappointment, until you actually listen to it.
Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Little Britain, Merlin, Spooks, and many other roles) demonstrates utter mastery of one person narration. After about five minutes, you basically forget that you're listening to a reading, because Head does all of the characters with different voices, including the most perfect Dutch accent that I've ever heard from a non-Dutch speaker. Alongside Cockney, Scots and the inevitable Austrian-German, he gives us a range of characters (men and women) whose voices are instantly memorable, but not for any particularly obvious reason (in other words, just like real people).
This is an extraordinary achievement, and the whole thing is carried off without any sound effects or music, except for the opening and closing titles.
As a script, News of Paul Temple isn't quite high art, but it's a jolly good example of its own genre, and pretty much perfect in its own terms. With Anthony Head's reading, what could have been a rather poor cost saving measure elevates it to something more than it might have been.
For a little nostalgia, or just for a stomping 1930s style thriller, this is warmly recommended.