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Monday, 15 June 2020

Get ready for The Flock

R. D. Wingfield - Crime Fiction's undervalued genius

To most the name R. D . Wingfield will sum up images of Inspector Frost, his best known creation who was brought to screen by David Jason but that's only half the picture. In fact it's not even half the picture, a quarter maybe or even less because R. D. Wingfield was for around twenty years a prolific writer of radio drama for the BBC- in fact even Inspector Frost made his debut in a radio play.


The Inspector Frost novels are truly excellent but it is with the radio plays - most of which can be found easily on You Tube - that the author did his best work.  Between 1972 and 1988, Wingfield produced a steady stream of intelligent mystery plays with a built-in guarantee of enjoyment for the listener . In fact even when Wingfield fell out with the BBC he continued to sell them plays written under pen names including the name Arthur Jefferson, which was actually Stan Laurel's real name.


'I was radio's blue-eyed boy. Everything I wrote they bought. When I'd sold three plays I thought, I'm on to a winner here, and I slung up my job - I was a clerk in an oil company -and started writing radio plays full-time.' R. D. Wingfield.


In various interviews Wingfield stated that he considered himself a dramatist first, and a novelist second and even when the TV series based around Inspector Frost made him an household name, radio remained his first love.

';I don't watch the television Frost. Nothing against David Jason. I could watch him again and again in 'Only Fools and Horses', but he isn't my Frost, and my fear is that if I were to watch him, then my next Frost would become him.' R. D Wingfield talking to the Radio Times in 1996.

Leslie Sands: First Frost


Back when Frost was first being developed for Radio, Wingfield hoped Ronnie Barker would play the part but recording couldn't be worked in around his TV work and so Leslie Sands was cast - this Frost is actually closer to the character in the novels than the TV series and can be listened to HERE.

Wingfield was an intensely shy and private man, Wingfield lived anonymously at Basildon, Essex, where even his neighbours were unaware of who he was. When ITV bought the television rights to the Frost books in 1992, he continued to live modestly and eschewed the trappings of success; he avoided the hoopla of book launches and publishers' parties, turned down requests for television interviews and was rarely photographed. Nor did he enjoy writing the books, regarding them as a grinding chore and very much a bread-and-butter obligation; radio scripts, on the other hand, were a labour of love, and Wingfield produced a steady stream of some 40 mysteries over a 20-year period until a shrinking radio market and the success of the Frost novels in the early 1990s forced his hand.

These radio plays are all good, many of them are excellent. Check out A TEST TO DESTRUCTION, an early play in which an explosives expert, seemingly caught in a desperate trap, keeps his nerve and thinks ahead. THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY, from 1972, which cleverly resolves an unexplained murder ten years after its commission. Also the serial OUTBREAK OF FEAR (1982), which piles one horrific death onto another in a hair-raising play. And SATURDAY ROSTER from 1974 is the ultimate straight forward police procedural And one I only recently listened to was THE KILLING SEASON, a six part thriller from 1984, which is set during the Christmas period is an absolute classic of crime drama. These are just a few of the excellent Wingfield plays that can be found on You Tube.

The original Frost novels
Below is a list of the Wingfield radio plays together with dates of first broadcast. Source Nigel Deacon's Diversity Website.

As previously stated most of these plays can be found on You Tube - To give you an idea of how highly I regard these plays I'll just tell you that I've ripped them all as MP3 FILES and they have a permanent place on my iPod - they've entertained me on many a long drive.

Compensating Error (45') Aug 68 8.15 R4
Our West Ladyton Branch (60') 13-11-68 8.15 R2
Better never than late (60') Nov 69 2.00 R4
The night they deliver the money (60') 4-4-70 2.00 R4
Double Entry (45') 7-10-70 R4
Test to Destruction (45') 1970 R4
Slow fuse (45') 13-1-71 8.15 R4
Letter of the law (60') 28-4-71 3.05 R4
Cat and mouse game (45') May 71 8.15 R4
Adequate Reasons (45') 21-7-71 8.15 R4
The tenth anniversary (45') 9-2-72 8.15 R4
The Alternative Plan (45') 19-7-72 8.15 R4
A second class risk (45') Jan 73 8.15 R4
Sins of commission (45') 2-5-73 8.15 R4
Cleft stick (45') 19-12-73 8.15 R4
Balance brought forward (45') 27-2-74 8.15 R4
Murder locked out (45') 11-9-74 8.15 R4
Saturday Roster (45') 9-10-74 8.15 R4
Slow Fuse (30' version) May 76 R4
Smiling and beautiful death (45') May 76 3.05 R4
Death of the insured (45') 8-7-76 3.05 R4
Winner takes the Kitty (30') Oct 76 R4
Three days of Frost (90') 12-2-77 8.30 R4
Credit risk (45') 24-2-77 3.05 R4
Daylight robbery (45') 2-6-77 3.05 R4
The last escape (45') 7-7-77 3.05 R4
Blood money (60') 26-8-77 3.05 R4
Post Mortem Shock (45') 2-11-77 R4
Nightmare (15') 16-2-79 1145pm R4
The cellar (15') 7-4-79 1145pm R4
Second sight (60') May 81 3.02 R4
Innocent victim (60') 20-8-81 3.02 R4
A touch of Frost (90') 6-2-82 8.30 R4
Moveable assets (45') Apr 82 3.02 R4
Outbreak of Fear (5 x 30 mins) beginning 29-8-82 R4
The Killing Season (as Arthur Jefferson) (6 x 30 mins) Jan 84 R4
Cover-up (90') 5-1-85 8.30 R4
Hate Mail (as T. Smith) (45') c1985 R4
Deadfall (60') Dec 87 R4. Rebroadcast by ABC, c1995


Rodney David Wingfield, radio scriptwriter and crime novelist, June 6 1928; died July 31 2007

The Bat Jo Nesbo Book Review

Jo Nesbo is one of those select few author's who can claim to be a household name, and as such I was aware of him and his creation Harry Hole (pronounced Hoola or Holy as  in this book) without having ever read a word.

Until now, that is and this book came as a surprise to me. I was expecting a slice of brooding Nordic Noir but instead I got a straight forward adventure novel that seems to owe more to American crime fiction than it does to the likes of Stieg Larsson. That's not to say I was disappointed, quite the opposite in fact and I found myself sucked into the story and by the mid-way point I had fallen for Nesbo's  truly dysfunctional detective and will certainly be seeking out more in the bestselling series. I'm told that the later books are far more in the Nordic Noir style, but as an introduction to the character, The Bat is pretty damn good.

The novel is set in Australia where Harry has been sent to investigate the murder of a Norwegian woman, and soon our troubled detective finds himself on the trail of a serial killer. It's hardly an original premise but thankfully Nesbo handles the timeworn fish out of water theme with panache and makes the old chestnut both fresh and surprising.

I enjoyed the book - even if it wasn't what I was expecting.

Foreign Legion : Back to Basics ALBUM REVIEW


Old skool values and aesthetics (sic) is the credo for Welsh punkers, Foreign Legion  to bring their latest vinyl to eager fans, and this ten song set is both uncompromising and relatable - the band have gelled so tightly over the decades that their sound could grace the airways of any alternative rock station. This is good stuff, indeed but then those in the know already dig that.

The group are one of the finest rock bands Wales has ever produced and they push forward with the no-nonsense approach that has rewarded them with a true legion of fans.

'Sound wise I think the sound is much the same as all our albums,' frontman, Marcus Howells told the Archive. 'We went into the studio, rehearsed the tracks and then recorded them while they were fresh. It's back to basics in that sense.'

Coping with the lock-down due to the current Covid 19 crisis has been a nightmare for a band who are normally close knit with no chance to rehearse or get together in any form, but perversely these strange times have seen a surge of fans buying merchandise and cherry-picking the back cataloug. All the same the band have hardly been idle.

'We've got a half a dozen new tracks ready to record,' Marcus told the Archive. 'We're chomping at the bit to get back into the studio. For now, though the message is: Stay safe and keep the faith.'

So while we wait for the virus to vanish and the new tunes to drop, let's take a look at the ten tracks that make up Back to Basics.




The album kicks off with, Back to basics - I'm going back to basics, back to my roots - the lyrics intertwine with a driving guitar led beat that delivers on the thematic sense of a return to punk's year 0. It's an excellent opener that assaults the ears and whets the appetite for all that will follow.

Murderer comes next and once again this a straight forward rocker with some great truly ambitious guitar work in the middle eight. The track attacks the barbaric practice of fox hunting and especially those horse bothering dick-less twats in their red tunics. Tally ho, boys!

Homeless is up next and sees the band bringing their social conscience to the fore in a tumultuous cacophony of cymbals, drums and screaming guitars.

Uncle Tom  follows and this is once again another great rocker told from the perspective of a young girl who is being abused by her uncle. It a dark subject matter that the band handles well.

She's A Punk closes out a blistering A-Side and this one is another of those punk anthems that the band do so well. Again the guitar work, particularly the lead instrument stands out on this excellent side closer. The lyrics reference the Pistols, Holidays in the Sun and that closing guitar orgasm is truly sublime.

Flip the striking looking coloured vinyl and we're straight into side opener, Bullshit which is a track that displays true anger - no hope for you, you've got nothing to do.

Heroes Welcome comes next and this laments the fact that societal changes mean that we seem to have forgotten the fact that we owe a debt to all those who have served on the various battle fields to protect our freedom. They gave him a heroes welcome when he came home from the war, but that was then and this is now.....the song ends with The Last Post which is haunting given the themes of the track it follows.

Next we have Strange Town, which to me is a standout which calls to mind early Clash tunes. It's a straight in your face rocker than propels itself with an effective lead guitar riff. I'm loving this track but then the entire platter is consistently good.

The penultimate track is Drink - an ode to the joys and dangers of the demon drink. love the chorus.

The final track to round of a great album is Start a War (see embedded video above) and this is a excellent album closer. 'Start a war, send the poor, don't you know what you're fighting for.' It's a catchy track that will have the listener singing along after only a few listens, but the powerful message is not lost amongst the addictive melody that carries the song.

Back to Basics then is another great addition to an already impressive back catalogue from the Welsh punkers. Despite it's title it's not really a change in style, a return to the early days but rather more of what the band does best and that's delivering truthful, melodic anger and vitriol that will have fans clamouring for more - Oi, the boys are back!




Sunday, 14 June 2020

Granny Smith Q & A

This winter, an all new Granny Smith adventure will be hitting the digital bookshelves, and in order to celebrate the release of the eagerly awaited firth book in the Granny Smith series, the first four titles have been reduced to 0.99c on Amazon for the Kindle versions. This offer will continue until 30th March so why not catch up on Granny Smith now. Get yourself in the loop before the publication of, the new Granny Smith misadventure.

NOTE THIS Q&A IS A REPRINT OF PUBLICITY MATERIAL FROM THE PREVIOUS GRANNY SMITH ADVENTURE, MURDER PLOT




Born in 1965, Gary M. Dobbs (Gary Martin Dobbs) is a British writer and actor. As a writer using the pen name Jack Martin[1] he is responsible for a string of popular westerns for Robert Hale's Black Horse Western imprint. These include 'Arkansas Smith', 'The Ballad of Delta Rose', and 'The Afterlife of Slim McCord'.
As Gary M. Dobbs he has written the popular series of mysteries featuring the character of Granny Smith - described as Miss Marple on steroids. As an actor Dobbs has appeared (often unaccredited) in many British TV shows, as well as in the films The Reverend[2] and Risen.[3] In 2014 Gary wrote the non-fiction historical book, Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War, published in 2015 by Pen and Sword Books.


Q- So what next for Granny Smith?


A-    Well, of course we have just seen Gerald’s wedding,which changes the Granniverse somewhat.  The next full-length novel will be called Murder Plot and concerns murder and intrigue at the allotments society. It's very nearly ready to go and will see publication at the end of March.




Q-Where did the idea for Granny Smith come from?

A- The back of my brain, likely. I’ve a fondness for classic crime fiction and also the old Ealing comedy movies. I think that the Ealing movies and Agatha Christie, particularly her Miss Marple series are the two biggest influences on the Granny Smith series, but there are other influences that all meld together to form the unique universe of the novels, the Granniverse of you like. I love Tom Sharpe for instance and although my writing maybe more PG Tips than PG Wodehouse I do hope there’s a lot of good humour in the books. M C Beaton’s The Agatha Raisin series are also a major influence. I’m aiming for the sky with Granny Smith, but if I only reach the shithouse roof then at least I tried.


Q – The books usually concern a murder and the subsequent investigation. Does humour have a place amongst such dark themes?

A- The novels would fall loosely into the cozy crime category, so yes there is a murder but this takes place off page and there is very little gore or graphic detail. And of course the characters are all so much larger than life. We know we’re not dealing with a real world murder and all the ramifications resulting from such.  It’s all fantasy as
is our detective the very wonderful Granny Smith. Miss Marple on steroids, indeed. In one of the reviews someone called her, Batman with dentures...I think I like that.


Q- Which character from the Granny Smith books would you most compare yourself to?

A-    Gerald, obviously! But no I think there’s a bit of myself in all the characters. I love the way Granny sees political correctness for what it truly is and I hope I share this trait. Also Gerald’s flamboyance, Arthur’s lust for solitude and Twice’s self importance are swirling around in my DNA.


Q- Granny aged ten years from the original draft of the first novel. Why was this?


A-    It’s true when I first wrote Granny Smith she was in her early Sixties, but I always wanted her to be older. I always thought her early Seventies was the correct age for the character but I was worried that it would be too much of a stretch to imagine all the things she does and so I created her as an extremely fit woman in her Sixties – which is not old by modern standards. Of course I soon realised that this was a mistake and that she had to be an older woman – and so I republished the first novel and aged her. That’s the beauty of electronic publishing in that it is so easy to go back and revise a book that’s already been published. I guess I’ll age Granny into her Eighties over maybe ten books.


Q- So you see the series going on for at least ten books?

A-    And more. Granny’s a fun character to play with and I love the way the world looks through her eyes. I’ve become a fan of series characters in cozy crime and especially enjoy the works of Simon Brett, M. C. Beaton and Lesley Cookman and if these guys can continue to come up with ideas for their characters then I’m sure I can for mine.


Q- You have had some success writing westerns as Jack Martin so isn’t cozy crime a big switch?

A-    Not really. My westerns contain a lot of humour. And I see no reason why a writer is expected to stick to one genre. That doesn’t happen in other fields where creators are free to switch genres whenever the fancy or need takes them. Stephen Spielberg doesn’t only make one kind of movie and The Beatles switched genres from track to track. I write the story that takes over my imagination at any given time and the genre is a secondary issue.
Q- So would you write Erotica?


A-    Good God, no. I find it difficult to type one-handed.


Q- Where can people find out more about your writing?

A-    That’s a convenient question – thank you. Well you can follow me on Twitter @garymartindobbs and I keep a Facebook page under the name Gary Martin Dobbs and then there’s my very active blog, The Tainted Archive which you can find at http://tainted-archive.blogspot.co.uk/ . Oh and Granny has her own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GrannySmithInvestigates/



Q- Finally where you get your ideas?

A-    Well I do a lot of people watching – well one woman really but the police have told me I’ve got to stop. Where do ideas come from? Anywhere and everywhere – from other books, movies, events in newspapers.



Q- Tell the truth: you made these questions up yourself didn’t you?

A-Yep

           

"The story then follows Granny Alice Mary Smith into various stages of the mystery in a humorous but intense way. The book is beautifully written and is a pleasure to read. The Miss Marple references are not only in our mind but the author has made them too, calling Granny Smith as “Miss Marple on steroids”

It is a cozy and wonderful murder mystery, the likes of which, I have not read for a long time. Agatha Christie story lovers must catch this book. It brings back many memories of age old murder mystery classics.
" Goodreads five star review for Granny Smith Investigates

Black Bond's Matter

Could it be the time for a black James Bond? Would it work? We've had a black Felix Leiter so perhaps a black James Bond would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination. It could work in the modern world, our society has moved on since Fleming penned the books back in an age when black and whites were still segregated.

The so called woke brigade amongs is have made the claim  that it's time for a female Bond - now that would be totally ridiculous. But a black Bond would, I guess, be fine and indeed Will Smith has often been linked to the role. And at the end of the day as long as the actor catches the essence of the character then the skin tone becomes irrelevant.


These are some of the contenders for the first black Bond taken from various news sources


Boxer David Haye, has already set his sights on turning to acting.

The WBA champ said that a role as first black James Bond will "definitely appeal" him.
"I've always been a fan of the action hero," the Sun quoted Haye as saying.
"Schwarzenegger was my hero growing up and obviously you've got Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. Me? I wouldn't mind James Bond. Yes, the first black James Bond definitely appeals," he added.


Every African American celebrity right now is obsessed with being the black version of James Bond. We’ve heard it from Jermaine Dupri, Tyrese, 50 Cent, and Jamie Foxx. And now we can add Will Smith to the growing list.

Will recently said he was confident that he could draw in moviegoers as the first black James Bond. When a fan asked him who cold play the role the best, out of him, P. Diddy, and Jamie Foxx, he replied, "Puff probably lives the most like James Bond, Jamie Foxx got the swag for James Bond. He can sing too, so he can add a new element to Bond.”
 

Jamie Foxx is making his intentions known to Hollywood that he wants to enter the elite franchise of Bond movies and become the first black “James Bond”. Foxx intends to bring his own personality into the 007 franchise saying, “I'd put a little swing in it. A little hip-hop, you know. Maybe not drinking martinis, but drinking some Hennessey, maybe.”  Hmm, not sure what that would look like, but black people do have a tendency to always add “flavor” to everything and make it fly!

After his Oscar winning role – as Ray Charles in “Ray” there is little doubt Foxx can deliver the sleek and sexy mix that makes the Bond movies successful.








And the most way out suggestion of all came recently from both Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan when they said in separate interviews that ex- President Obama would make a cool James Bond.




What do Archive readers think? Are we ready for a black Bond?  Do we want a Democrat Bond?

The Creatures Strike Back

When James Herbert published The Rats in 1974 not only did he have a worldwide best-seller on his hands but he also invented a horror fiction subgenre - let's call it Creature-thrillers as a nod to the 1950's/1960's Creature Feature movies.


Herbert said he thought of the story after watching Todd Browning's Dracula on the television and being horrified by Renfield's description of his nightmare involving hordes of rats. The author also recalled the packs of rats he had seen on London's old bomb sites during his childhood and he brought the feelings of dread the creatures had always inspired in himself to his first novel.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time, I was as naive as that." James Herbert, talking about writing The Rats.

The book met with a poor critical reception but the first print run sold out within three weeks and the book's remained in print ever since. For many the book was too graphic and the overall theme too pessimistic but what Herbert did was bring a particular working class form of horror to the table and there was a theme of criticism of a government who were not doing enough for the poorer elements of society.  It's written in a very visceral style and totally enjoyable but it's so much more than it appears on the surface. And of course the true measure of its success is in the amount of imitations it spawned.



Herbert was very much in the right place and at the right time and almost simultaneously with The Rats, an American writer named Stephen King was getting his first taste of success with Carrie - all of a sudden the horror genre was big business. And of course The Rats was riding on this wave of  popularity - there were a slew of imitators - Maggots, Snakes, Cats, Worms, Bats, alligators, frogs and even absurdly Slugs all turned feral and went for the human population.



Guy N. Smith's Crab series was one of the first to cash in on the success of  Herbert's rodents with Night of the Crabs and in all he wrote six Crabs books but unlike many of the Herbert imitators these books were actually quite good in their own right. Indeed the series still has a cult following and in 2009 the first book was reissued in a deluxe hardcover edition. Guy runs his own book business, Black Hill Books and many of his titles can be bought there and it also carries an extensive range of classic paperbacks in all genres.



Smith would go on to write many more creature thrillers featuring Bats, snaked, alligators and even a variety of creatures in the vastly entertaining, The Abomination but by far his most popular series was and remains, The Crabs.

Another entertaining creature thriller was Spiders by Richard Lewis which actually spawned a sequel, The Web. I read both of these books many years ago and remember enjoying them both immensely and whilst I don't know what I'd think of them these days I do have fond memories of them.

The reason for these animals going feral was usually some ecological disaster or scientific experiment, although there were one or two examples where the reason was supernatural but for the most part it was bizarre scientific experiments that provoked the horror. In fact, off the top of my head, I can't really remember any of the books where the reason for the crazed creature outbreak was supernatural.



Eventually the creature thrillers fell out of favour and horror readers went for more sophisticated novels but the genre was reinvented briefly in the 90's when Shaun Hutson wrote perhaps the most stomach churning series of all, Slugs.This time there was no holds barred and there is even a scene where a guy is sitting on the toilet and one of the killer slugs goes up his arse.

But back to the originator of this little horror sub-genre, James Herbert - there were three follow ups to The Rats. Lair was a great second story and the third book, Domain took up the story of the mutated rodents in the aftermath of a nuclear war and although this is a good premise the book was not as successful in terms of story as the previous two.  It sold by the truck-load, though.



These books made up a trilogy but there was another story with the graphic novel, The City which is again set in London after a nuclear war. Though when people talk about the Rats trilogy they mean the three novels proper with the graphic novel considered something of a companion piece.


This article gives just a taster of all the creature thrillers out there - go on give one a try but beware one thing they all share in common is their extremely graphic scenes.



A strong stomach is advised.