Monday, 9 November 2009

The Frightened People - Jack Trevor Story

Yes. Another one of the Story Sexton Blakes. This has an intriguing story about black market scrap metal and how radio-active waste finds its way into the foundry of a toy factory (this being in the days when we had a manufacturing industry). The human stories of those affected is interwoven with the hunt for those who perpetrated the crime.

It is typical Sexton Blake and it is typical Jack Treor Story, although the subject matter somewhat constrains Story’s normal sense of humour. This, however, allows him to concentrate more on character and the motives of those ordinary folk in the tale who are driven to extraordinary actions.

This is one reason why I so much enjoy Story’s contributions to this series. He keeps the balance between quality story telling and fine writing, all within a formula. There are some fine portraits of people and of their lives offering us a picture of the late 1950s every bit as detailed and fascinating as any history text.

All that aside, this is, like the other SBL tales in general (and Story’s in particular) a diverting and exciting read which proves, if proof is really needed (except for certain sections of literary society) that genre tales can be every bit as good as ‘literary’ fiction. Sometimes, a whole lot better.