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23Aug/140

Audio Review: BBC Crimes: The Saint Overboard & The Saint Plays with Fire

In late Summer 1995, the BBC brough the Saint back to radio in a series of three radio plays starring Paul Rhys as Simon Templar: The Saint.

The first two of these plays are collected in a single audio release, “The Saint Overboard” and “The Saint Plays With Fire.”

“The Saint Overboard” has the Saint teaming up with a female insurance investigator who is trying to catch the culprit behind the looting of sunken vessels. She has a suspect but has to find out where he’s hidden the loot.

“The Saint Plays with Fire” on the surface level is about an arson and murder investigation but it has strong political overtones in a story that was originally written right before the outbreak of World War II.

Of the two, “The Saint Overboard” is the weaker story. It’s not a bad tale, but it does drag a bit in the middle and some of the side characters were a little tedious. The Saint also plays much more of an anti-hero in the story.

“The Saint Plays With a Fire” is a much more solid play. It’s a good mystery and the pre-war setting is pretty intriguing.

Overall, Paul Rhys is decent as the Saint. He’s definitely not going to make anyone forget George Sanders, Roger Moore, or Vincent Price, but he does a good job. He’s certainly not Val Kilmer and he’s a cut above Hugh Sinclair who replaced Sanders as the on-screen Saint in the 1940s.

The rest of the cast turns in exactly the type of solid performance you’d expect from the BBC. While it’s not a must-hear for fans of Leslie Charteris’ most famous creation, it’s still a well-done adaptation.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

This production is available from audible.com.

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23Aug/140

EP1346: Dragnet: Production #4 Homicide (aka: Quick Trigger Gun Men)

Jack Webb

Friday and Romero are on the trailer of three robbers who murdered a police officer.

Original Air Date: June 24, 1949

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22Aug/140

EP1345: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Melancholy Memory Matter

Bob Bailey

Johnny searches for a pitcher who disappeared during Spring Training and whose sister is accusing his new bride of murdering him.

Original Air Date: April 28, 1957

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21Aug/140

EP1344: Nick Carter: Shakespeare’s Ghost

Lon Clark

A grifter cons a collector out of a copy of the Shakespeare folio that's rumored to be haunted by Shakespeare's ghost and is founded beheaded with an Elizabethan sword.

Original Air Date: December 30, 1945

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20Aug/140

EP1343: Philip Marlowe: The Long Rope

Gerald Mohr

Marlowe is hired by an elderly man to transport a string of pearls to Chicago but arrives to find the man who hired him dead and the pearls missing.

Original Air Date: February 5, 1949

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19Aug/140

EP1342: Pat Novak: Joe Dineen

Jack Webb
Two men kidnap Pat Novak from a wrestling match and demand he take them to a man Novak doesn't know by the name of Joe Dineen.

Original Air Date: June 19, 1949

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18Aug/140

EP1341: Pursuit: Pursuit of the Thames Pirates

Ben Wright

Peter Black joins the pursuit of thieves down the Thames River.

Original Air Date: February 12, 1952

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16Aug/140

EP1340: Dragnet: Production #3 Robbery Aka: The Werewolf

Jack Webb

Joe and Ben go searching for a criminal nicknamed the “werewolf” who is terrorizing young women in LA’s Central district

Original Air Date: June 17, 1949

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16Aug/140

Book Review: Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories

This book collects all the short stories starring Agatha Christie’s famous elderly spinster detective Miss Marple.

The most important thing to know about them is that in three out of four short stories, nothing is really at stake. There is no murderer to be caught or punished because the murderer has already been caught and punished. In the majority of the stories, Miss Marple is sitting around in a group of friends who are telling each other about murder cases they’ve encountered for which they know the solution and are challenging their friends to solve it.

The format of these stories hearkens back to the armchair detectives of the 1910s and 1920s such as Baroness Orczy’s Old Man in the Corner. While the stories don’t have much suspense, the puzzles are interesting and Christie gives Miss Marple’s friends enough characterization to keep them interesting while also working a nice dose of charm and humor into the discussion of the case.

In many of the early armchair stories, Miss Marple is somewhat reminiscent of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown in his earliest stories. She sits back and leaves most of the conversation to the younger people only to contribute the actual solution at the end. In many ways, she seems like anyone'stereotypical grandmother or elderly aunt, though perhaps more honest as Miss Marple not only admits to gossiping but defends the practice. However, she has an amazing mind that has taken in all she has experienced while living in a small village and used it as a frame of reference for understanding human behavior, including the criminal crime.

Of course, there are some stories that deviate from the armchair format and and are more traditional detective stories. I enjoyed these more. My favorite was, “The Case of the Perfect Maid” which has Miss Marple investigating a case of a maid whose career is in trouble after leaving the employee of two strange sisters under a cloud of suspicion. I also found “Sanctuary,” which has Miss Marple assisting in the investigation of man who died in a church to be very enjoyable.

Overall, while I’m not a huge fan of pure puzzle mysteries, I found myself thoroughly entertained by this volume. It’s a testament to the genius of Agatha Christie that these stories are so entertaining. Also for 20 Miss Marple short stories, the book is very economically priced either in paperback or as an ebook.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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15Aug/140

EP1339: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Ming Toy Murphy Matter

Bob Bailey
Johnny has to find a dog--a talking dog.

Original Air Date: April 14, 1957

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