Publishing: Blake author Anthony Parsons dies aged 69.
In June, in THE LAST TIGER, it is announced that the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY has come to an end. Goodbye Sexton Blake! Farewell Tinker! What a fantastic journey it's been! How sad that it should end with such a forlorn whimper ... unless ...
Notes: Stephen Frances was better known as Hank
Notes: The end of an era. The SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY
began back in 1915 with THE YELLOW TIGER and finishes here at the end of the fourth series, with THE LAST TIGER. Well, that's not strictly true — two years from now it'll return for a fifth series but it'll be in paperback format and just won't feel 'Blake-ish'. This one is the final booklet-style issue and it provides a series finale that, unfortunately, is distinctly lacking in flair. The saga has drifted so far off course by this stage that it's hard to regret its demise. In my opinion, W. Howard Baker made a mistake when he tried to shift the stories into James Bond territory. Blake could never compete with 007; he's a different sort of animal altogether. This tale is a case in point. It begins when Blake is commissioned by an insurance
compay to investigate the disappearance of a number of passenger aircraft over the Pacific. He, Tinker, Paula and Marion fly out to the planes' departure point: Honolulu. There, while surfing, Blake is attacked by a shark after a lump of dried blood is planted in his shorts (yes, that's how absurd this story is). The murder attempt leads Blake to his first suspect and thence to the next targeted aircraft, which is already in mid-flight. 'Borrowing' an executive jet, Blake and Paula give chase and end up trapped on a remote island after the jet is dragged out of the air by a force beam. This remarkable weapon has been developed by a regiment of Japanese soldiers who live in an underground complex. These guys don't realise that the Second World War has ended
and are determined to return to Japan to revive its imperial fortunes. Blake turns the tables, rounds up the bad guys, and finishes up relaxing with Paula on Waikiki beach ... possibly proposing marriage.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ This only has one thing going for it: the letters page is filled with tributes to the Blake saga from names that'll be familiar to all fans — Eric Parker, Arthur Kent, Arthur MacLean, Jack Trevor Story, Wilfred McNeilly and Peter Saxon, among others. There's also a goodbye message from Sexton Blake himself on the back cover (he reveals that his middle initial is 'T'). Uplifting stuff ... but no replacement for a good story, which we definitely don't have here.