In the Hilary Caine Mysteres, MJ Elliot, known for his adaptations of classic Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown programs created an original comedy mystery series for Jim French Productions in Seattle.
It’s the 1930s and Hilary Caine (played by Australian Karen Heaven) works as the house detective for the tabloid Tittle Tattle Magazine. She goes and solves crimes and they tell the true story (or something approximating the true story) in the pages of the tabloid Tittle Tattle magazine. She usual assists Inspector Julius Finn (Randy Hoffmeyer) or is it the other way around?
Hilary has a great line of patter that simply has to be listened to in order to be believed. The comedy is priceless. Consider this example:
Hilary: I was having with my friend Hercules Poyrot –
Finn: I believes that Hercules Poirot. And I believe he’s fictional.
Hilary: Nonsense. If he wasn’t real, who was I having lunch with?
And this line:
Hillary: She made me furious when she said English people are repressed.
Finn: You did a good job hiding it.
Another time when asked about her religious affiliation, she declared she was “a lapsed skeptic.” However, just because she makes statements that could come from Gracie Allen and has an imagination that seems to struggle to under the difference between reality and fictions, she shouldn’t be underestimated. She’s got a keen mind and manages to unravel some clever mysteries. MJ Elliot and Jim French successfully captured the spirit of the 1930s screwball mystery comedies. I was also somewhat reminded of Barbara Britton’s portrayal of Pam North on television, although Hillary Caine’s stories are much more British.
The nine mysteries in this collection are mostly solid though there are a couple that seemed a little too easy to figure. One of them reminded me a little bit of the Father Brown Story, “The Quick One” in it’s set up though it’s denouement was different.