Most helpful critical review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2012
Like hearing 'Coronation Scot', reading this took me back to my childhood in the 1950s. Sitting listening to Paul Temple and the ...... Mystery/Affair in our living room by the light of the fire. The writing instantly draws you back in time, to a time when Scotland Yard 'consulted' the crime novelist Paul Temple (not dissimilar to the Inspector Japp/Hercule Poirot relationship) whenever an unusual case presented itself. Temple and his wife Steve are suave, sophisticated, chic and wealthy. He drives an expensive car and collects 'art' bought in expensive galleries, she dresses a la mode patronising the 'best' fashion houses and hairdressers. They 'sip' Conquistador sherry or dry Martinis and Paul drinks expensive whiskey (no doubt Single Malt). Reading it one realises quickly just how wide the gulf was between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', and how corrupt and murderous, 1950s Britain was, still slowly emerging from rationing. To be honest the writing is not all that good and the plot leaves much to be desired.
No-one reading it as a detective story could hope to guess the killer. The plot goes through the usual Durbridge hoops and you quickly realise (if you've heard the radio broadcasts available on CD) that it is much like any other Paul Temple story; there's the usual attempts at killing off, or at least frightening, Temple and his wife in a car 'accident' or a kidnapping. There's the usual motoring trips, when few drove cars, to rural inns or hotels and the usual mention of trips abroad - something few had made unless serving in the forces in the 1950s, which add to the glamour. Whilst reading the book I was mentally hearing the voices of Peter Coke & Marjorie Westbury and half expecting 'Coronation Scot' to start up at the end of every other chapter. In fact the book reads like a novelisation (horrible word), rather than the other way round, of a radio drama and I suspect would work much better in that medium. Having said that it's undoubtedly a good read in a genre Waterstones would describe as 'cosy crime' and whiles away a couple of hours in harmless fun, provided you don't take it seriously.
Arcturus have published 'The World of Tim Frazer' in the same series which I recently picked up cheaply in a charity shop. I'm not sure I would really want to read another Paul Temple mystery and much prefer to listen to the original radio dramatisations on CD.