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


EP1580: Dragnet: The Big Knife

Jack Webb
Twenty-one girls have been knifed at a local high school. Joe Friday and Ben Romero must catch the perpetrator before he kills one of his victims.

Original Air Date: May 11, 1950


EP1574: Dragnet: The Big Badge

Jack Webb

Joe Friday and Ben Romero hunt a man who holds up parked cars while pretending to be a police officer.

Original Air Date: May 4, 1950

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Book Review: The Case of the Courteous Killer

In 1958, Dragnet had been with America for nearly a decade, with 318 Radio performances coupled with more than 200 TV episodes, and a movie. It’s in this atmosphere that Richard Deming wrote his tie-in Dragnet novel, the Case of the Courteous Killer.

It begins with an unassuming man holding up couples in lover’s lane, eventually killing a man who thought the unassuming robber would be easy to handle in the first of a series of murders. Joe Friday and Frank Smith are called in to locate and apprehend the suspect.

Adapting television shows to novels is tricky business, but the late Mr. Deming does a superb job capturing the spirit of the 1950s TV show while producing a story that was more gripping and involved than half hour television would allow.

Deming nails the voices of Joe Friday and Frank Smith. Friday was particularly important as the story is told in typical Dragnet first person. There were a couple moments I didn't quite buy, though. For example, I found the idea Joe Friday watched the Boston Blackie TV show to be a little unbelievable. There are also funny moments with Frank Smith providing comic relief as he talks about his brother-in-law and various goings on. Truly, I could imagine this on TV as I read it.

The mystery was far beyond typical Dragnet cases, which were resolved in half an hour, but it was in that same matter of fact style. There are many twists as this criminal changes methods, the police stumble upon an almost unbelievable coincidence that's too strange for Dragnet's genre, and the courteous killer twice attempts to exact some not-so-courteous revenge on Joe Friday.

The story lost a bit of momentum and dragged in the last little bit with some repetitive moments before finishing up strong at the end.

Still, if you love 1950s Dragnet, or are a fan of clean early police procedural, this is a really good and engaging read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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EP1568: Dragnet: The Big Job

Jack Webb
Joe Friday and Ben Romero searches for a fugitive who has killed a police officer.

Original Air Date: April 27, 1950

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EP1562: Dragnet: The Big Trial

Jack Webb

Joe Friday and Ben Romero search for a hit and run driver.

Original Air Date: April 20, 1950

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EP1556: Dragnet: The Big Watch

Jack Webb
Friday and Romero search for a gang that's robbing and beating army officers.

Original Air Date: April 13, 1950

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EP1550: Dragnet: The Big Book

Jack Webb

Friday and Romero investigate the distribution and sale of pornography in public schools.

Original Air Date: April 6, 1950

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EP1544: Dragnet: The Big Gangster, Part Two

Jack Webb

A local gangster is murder, Friday and Romero have to find the killer before the murdered man's loyalist do in order to prevent a gang war.

Original Air Date: March 30, 1950

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EP1538: Dragnet: The Big Gangster, Part One

Jack Webb
Friday and Romero try to find out whose trying to kill a local gangster before he's killed and it starts a gang war.

Original Air Date: March 23, 1950

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EP1532: Dragnet: The Big Boys

Jack Webb
On a slow day, Friday and Romero find clues to fugitive robbery suspects from San Francisco.

Original Air Date: March 16, 1950

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