The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

21Jan/120

Book Review: The Father Hunt

In The Father Hunt, Amy DeNovo, a twenty-four year old woman helping Lily Rowan research a book about her father, asks for Archie's help to find out who her father was.  Archie wants to help, but as she only has $2,000, he knows that Wolfe won't take the job. However, De Novo shows up at Wolfe's office with $20,000 and Wolfe wants to know how she got it.

De Novo's mother was killed in an apparent hit and run accident. Every month, since Amy was born, she received a check for $1,000. Her mother wrote that the money had come from her father.

Archie and Wolfe begin an investigation that takes them into a world of powerful, rich men in search of the father. In addition, the father may have been been responsible for the murder of Amy's mother. Wolfe's client from, Death of a Doxy 

This is somewhat different than other Wolfe novels. It's much of more of a straight detective story.   In addition, the only murder in the story occurs before Wolfe comes on the scene.  The story is good and incredibly engaging, though more similar to the Wolfe novellas.

I also love the sensitivity which Stout as he writes about Amy DeNovo. Her desire is understandable and very human. Along the way, Stout reveals a lot about the character of Amy's parents and her story is resolved quite nicely.

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You can find all the Nero Wolfe books in Kindle, Audiobook, and book form on our Nero Wolfe page.

20Jan/120

EP0585: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Syndicate Matter

John Lund

Johnny investigates a series of murders that have cause the insurance company thousands of dollars on group accidental death insurance.

Original Air Date: March 24, 1953

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19Jan/120

EP0584: Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Avenging Blade

Sherlock Holmes helps the lord of a manor who has received a threatening letter.

Original Air Date: February 1, 1948

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18Jan/120

EP0583: Let George Do It: Cover for an Hour

Bob Bailey

George is talking to a man who claims to need his help when he's knocked senseless for an hour and wakes up determined to find out what happened.

Original Air Date: September 18, 1950

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17Jan/121

EP0582: Candy Matson: The Egyptian Amulet

Natalie Masters

Mallard gives Candy an amulet with Egyptian writing on it to get translation help. She goes to Rembrandt and finds out he's moving and offers to find him a new place. The first place they go she finds more than she bargained for.

Original Air Date: September 12, 1950

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16Jan/120

EP0581: Barrie Craig: Strange Vision

William Gargan

Barrie Craig is hired to go out of town and undercover to investigate a series of fires at a chemical plants.

Original Air Date: January 19, 1954

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15Jan/120

The Sleuths of My Youth: Encyclopedia Brown

I've loved detective fiction since I was a child.  In this series, we'll examine some of these great detectives I encountered in childhood and set the stage for a lifetime of loving, reading, and watching mysteries.

One of the first detectives I read growing up was Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol. Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown was a kid that rather than selling lemonade to make money, set himself as a pint sized Sherlock Holmes, though his rates are more reminiscent of Philip Marlowe's $25 a day plus expense, as Encyclopedia charges 25 cents a day plus expenses. Encyclopedia's head is full of all kinds of strange facts and he's the son of the Idaville Chief of Police which allows him some convenient access to crime and police cases.

Each one of the Encyclopedia Brown books I read growing up included ten short mysteries, one per chapter.  Each book featured Encyclopedia solving cases with the assistance of his junior partner, Sally. Being a juvenile series, the mysteries didn't involve the gruesome crimes of adult novels and TV series, but rather solving thefts and busting up con games by older kids, and occasionally pitching in to help dear old dad with some local case that had him baffled.

Sobol managed to create memorable settings and characters. Sally Kimball is probably as good a sidekick as anyone in detective fiction. Her presence protects Encyclopedia Brown from being pummeled by Bugs Meany, leader of a local gang called the Tigers. Meany throughout the series remained Encyclopedia Brown's nemesis and occasional client.

Encyclopedia would usually solve the case through deduction, fueled by his broad base of knowledge. I would flip to the back of the book to find out Encyclopedia had solved the case and would learn some interesting factoid that had been stored in Encyclopedia's head, thus making the books technically educational.

The Encyclopedia Brown series began in 1963, with the latest book from author Donald Sobol, coming out last year. The books appeal seems to be in successfully mixing the essence of childhood with the fun and excitement of a detective story. And for me, it also really built a whole fascination with the whole realm of detection and crime solving.

I saw a review on Amazon of Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Treasure Hunt written by a child nine years ago o. He wrote, " I like this book a lot. It has taught me a lot about solving cases. I enjoy this book because I want to be a detective just like him one day." I think this not only sums up what I thought of Encyclopedia Brown when I was growing up, but what countless other children have thought as they read the the adventures of Encyclopedia Brown over the past 49 years.

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14Jan/120

Book Review: Black Coffee

When ITV announced the final series of Poirot episode, I was surprised that ITV opted to film the Labours of Hercules, a collection of short stories, rather than the Hercule Poirot play, Black Coffee. I remain skeptical of their ability to adapt a series of adventure into a single two hour movie. I was also curious why they passed on Black Coffee, as a play would seem ideal for a TV adaptation.

When I learned of the decision, I decided to get hold of the audiobook copy of Black Coffee. The play was adapted to a novel by Australia Author Charles Osborne and this book was read by John Moffatt who has played Poirot in BBC Radio 4's adaptations of Christie's novels.

In Black Coffee, Poirot is summoned to collect a top secret formula by Sir Claud Amory. Poirot and Captain Hastings arrive to find Amory murdered, the formula missing,  and a room full of suspects.

Listening to the book, it became apparent that Black Coffee was the type of play that's easily performed by community playhouses. The plot is relatively simple with most of the action, so to speak, consigned to one room. It featured typical stage dialogue and action, even within the confinds of the novel.

The audiobook was entertaining, thanks  to the performance of Moffat, who brought each character to life with a solid performance that made the audiobook practically a one man play. The book itself was okay. Osborne stuck very closely to Christie's play adding next to nothing other than transcribing the stage directions and adding a somewhat unnecessary scene that introduces Poirot. 

Reading Black Coffee makes apparent why ITV chose not to adapt the play. ITV's Poirot is famous not only for David Suchet's definitive portrayal as the great detective but for the fantastic cinematography. While Black Coffee may make more for an entertaining night at the playhouse, it'd be downright claustraphobic compared to the rest of the Poirot series.

The novel is good mainly if you want to enjoy a Poirot mystery and can't get to the playhouse to see it. It's a servicable if not inspired adaptation.

Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

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13Jan/120

EP0580: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The King’s Necklace Matter

John Lund

An old friend of Johnny's sends him to Cuba to the house of a reclusive millionaire due to an attempt theft of a $250,000 necklace.

Original Air Date: March 17, 1953

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12Jan/120

EP0579: Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Engineer’s Thumb

A man who was attacked and nearly murdered comes to Watson for treatment and Holmes for help.

Original Air Date: January 25, 1948

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