GILBERT AND EILEEN HALE

by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to this popular couple for the benefit of new readers.

The Hales are sophisticated and not without redeeming qualities but they're also very accomplished pickpockets and are attracted to crimes involving technology.

The Hales

Gilbert Hale is the grandson of Talbot Hale, a Sheffield steel foundry owner. Talbot's son (Gilbert's father), Charles, was unlucky in his speculations and the family business suffered. When he broke his neck in a hunting accident, there was little for Gilbert to inherit and what money he got he gambled away. Left in the hands of a moneylender, his back was against the wall. However, the moneylender's secretary, Eileen Dexter, took a shine to the youth and cooked up a scheme to double-cross her employer. Hale's debts were paid and, though Miss Dexter lost her job, she and the young man were soon married.

Sexton Blake first encounters the husband and wife team in March of 1923, six months after their marriage. Eileen Hale is described, at this time, as a pretty girl of about eighteen or nineteen. She wears her hair in a short fashionable bob and is every inch a 1920s 'flapper'. Gilbert Hale is a couple of years older. He is tall, blonde and handsome. They are both unscrupulous characters, expert pickpockets and accomplished swindlers.

Chronology:

1. The Case of the Petrol Turbine (UNION JACK issue 1,012, 1923)
Gilbert and Eileen Hale join forces with a thug named Gant and a Japanese man neamed Dr Yorima Kamura to steal the blueprints for a new type of turbine engine from a foundry in Sheffield. When Sexton Blake and Tinker interfere, the gang members fall out with one another and their scheme fails.

2. The Case of the Haunted Works (UNION JACK issue 1,062, 1924)
The Hales learn that a factory owner in the Midlands town of Covingtree is planning to destroy his factory and claim the insurance. They follow him into a mine beneath the premises, where he intends to plant explosives, and there hold him at gunpoint, demanding £80,000 of the £100,000 he expects to gain. However, Sexton Blake and Tinker are investigating the case and Tinker is spying on the meeting. When a fight breaks out and the factory owner is killed, the Hales make a rapid getaway.

3. The Secret Millionaire (SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 332, 1924)
A millionaire, Mitchell, is sent on a rest cure with a companion. However, unknown to him, the man who was meant to accompany him has been replaced by Gilbert Hale. Hale is working with a New York gangster named Sholto Barr to use Mitchell's fortune as a means to manipulate stocks and shares. When Mitchell's girlfriend sets out to search for him, she is followed by Sexton Blake and Tinker, who have been asked to investigate the millionaire's seemingly crazy instructions, which arrive regularly by post. Eileen Hale tries to stop the detective from discovering the truth but, in the end, the Baker Street man destroys their scheme.

4. The Great Wembley Mystery (UNION JACK issue 1,078, 1924)
The Hales bite off more than they can chew when they claim a reward for successfully breaking into an impregnable safe. They didn't do it, Sexton Blake knows they didn't do it, and he forces them to work with him to unmask the true culprit.

5. The Affair of the Country Club (SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series 351, 1924)

More to come ... ...