RogerBW's Blog

Paul Temple and the Alex Affair 27 March 2021

1968 audio thriller by Francis Durbridge: Paul Temple is a professional novelist and amateur sleuth. People are being murdered, and the only clue is the name "Alex" left with the body.

This is a remake of the now-lost Send for Paul Temple Again from 1946, and it would be more at home in that decade: no drugs this time, just a plain old-fashioned hyper-competent criminal who, as usual, must turn out to be one of the cast. It's also the last appearance of the "classic" team of Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury, 55 and 63 respectively when this was made, though their voices are still solid.

The cast is perhaps a little large, and lacking in vocal diversity, so it can be tricky to keep them straight even listening to an episode each day or two; the episodes were originally broadcast two per week, and I suspect that original listeners might have become a bit lost. However, Durbridge does a good job of throwing a bit of suspicion on everyone, remembering not to leave out the actual villain (a sadly common error among detective writers).

Does the criminal plot make any particular sense? Not really. Criminals gonna crime, I guess. But this is the sort of story where one goes along for the ride more than one is trying to beat the detective to the solution; there's so much chaff thrown in between the clues that it has to be enjoyable in itself, and it is, at least by the standards of the day.

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