BIBLIOGRAPHY 1956

1955
Master List
1957
PUBLISHING

The 4th series of the Sexton Blake Library begins. This was not an intended change but was made 'official' in retrospect by the new series editor, W. Howard Baker. The change from 3rd to 4th series is not marked by a resetting of the issue numbers (the 2nd and 3rd series both began with a new 'issue 1') but by the arrival of Paula Dane and Blake's new offices in Berkeley Square (issue 359 FRIGHTENED LADY). The Library also received a visual overhaul, adopting the 'red stripe' cover (though this began six issues earlier). From issue 355, the price rose to 10d. Due to a dispute in the printing trade, there were no issues published in May of this year.
Arthur Maclean (real name George Paul Mann) joins the legion of Sexton Blake authors and creates Eustace Craille. He would also reintroduce George Marsden Plummer in one story. Arthur Kent and James Stagg join the ranks, too; the latter becoming sub-Editor under W. Howard Baker. The inimitable Jack Trevor Story also writes his first Blake tale. Story was born in 1918. His debut novel — THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY — was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. More successful novels followed with many being adapted for cinema. Story also wrote scripts for television series. He died in 1991.
BLAKE TRIVIA

Sexton Blake opens a new office in Berkeley Square and takes on new staff: Paula Dane; Marion Lang and Louise Pringle. Tinker starts to use his real name: Edward Carter. The Grey Panther is brought out of retirement but is destroyed by a hand grenade.

ISSUES
KNOCKOUT · Issue 880 · 07/01/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE CLUE IN TIME
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Mike Western)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: A shipment of gold bars is stolen from a Scottish airport and Inspector Coutts is informed that the thieves' plane is heading south towards London. A fighter forces the plane to land and Coutts, Sexton Blake and Tinker are there to meet it. To their surprise, they find that there is no gold aboard. Blake quickly identifies a place in the fens where he believes the gold will be found. Travelling there by helicopter, he sees what he had expected: a mark in the earth where something heavy has been dropped. Tyre-marks lead them to a lorry. Tinker catches the driver and the gold is found aboard. Blake explains how he knew where the gold was dropped from the plane to be picked up.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 881 · 14/01/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE DEADLY BUS-TICKET
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Inspector Coutts reports to Sexton Blake that absent minded Professor Brewster has had his safe stolen but can’t remember what was in it. The professor arrives at Baker Street and declares that two men pounced on him and stole a bus ticket from his pocket—and the numbers of the ticket are the combination of the safe! The safe is time controlled. If the two men attempt to open it before midnight, it will explode. Rushing to the scene where the professor was attacked, Blake finds evidence that suggests the thieves came from a quarry north of Hackney Marshes. Racing there, Blake and Tinker see the two men working on the safe. Tinker barges them aside just as the safe explodes, saving their lives. The men are arrested and face a spell in prison.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 882 · 21/01/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE PRISONER'S ALIBI!
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 883 · 28/01/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE SEVENTEEN CHIMES
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: This story was reprinted in the KNOCKOUT ANNUAL 1961.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 884 · 04/02/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE HOUSE OF PUZZLES
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 885 · 11/02/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF SOLO SWANSON'S MISTAKE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Blake and Tinker are called to the home of Mr and Mrs Foster whose house has been broken into and jewels stolen from the safe. The detective finds clues that lead him to identify the crook as Solo Swanson, a notorious cracksman. However, when Blake reports his findings to Inspector Coutts, he learns that Swanson is in hospital, having been discovered floating out at sea, apparently having been there for at least ten days. He visits the man in hospital, where Swanson, sick from exposure, reveals that he’d been deep sea fishing when his boat’s engine broke down. Blake goes to the harbor, inspects the boat, then returns to the hospital, just in time to see an ambulance leaving. To Tinker’s amazement, Blake chases it and rams his car into it, pinning the ambulance against a wall. He pulls Swanson from the driver’s seat, recovers the stolen loot, and later explains to Coutts how he’d seen through Swanson’s ploy.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 886 · 18/02/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE THREE BROTHERS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: While Sexton Blake and Inspector Coutts are playing chess, Tinker nips out with Pedro to take a look at a new diesel locomotive at Euston Station. While there, he spots two of the three Bartley brothers — well-known cracksmen. After sending Pedro to fetch Blake, he eavesdrops on the brothers and learns that they intend to rob a bank. However, when the third brother arrives, Tinker is spotted and overpowered. He manages to leave a clue for Blake who soon traces the brothers to the bank, foils their scheme and rescues his assistant.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 887 · 25/02/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE WHITE TABLET
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Dr. Maynard finds a drugged man on his surgery doorstep and calls Sexton Blake. The man has nothing on him to identify who he is. However, in one pocket there is found a small white tablet upon which the letter 'R' is inscribed. Blake identifies it as an air-sickness tablet. While he makes a visit to a chemist, the patient momentarily awakens and mumbles "Burgundy wine." The detective interprets this as "Bergan & Vine" — the name of a diamond merchant. Upon visiting this shop, he learns that the drugged man is an assistant there ... and had been on the way to the airport with a parcel of gems. Blake and Tinker rush to the airport where they capture a man who's masquerading as the diamond merchant's assistant.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 888/894 (jointly numbered) · 03/03/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 3d
THE CASE OF THE SCATTERED PAPERS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Jonathan Wragg is a nightwatchman at a firm of financiers. One night, he allows an accomplice named Nobbler in, helps him to steal money, then submits to being tied up and gagged. When he’s discovered the next morning, Inspector Coutts is called and arrives at the scene with Sexton Blake and Tinker. Wragg tells a tall tale, claiming that he fought with an intruder who eventually overpowered him. Blake sees evidence that proves otherwise and has Wragg arrested. He then explains where the thieves’ scheme went wrong.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 895 · 21/04/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE TRAIL OF COINS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Inspector Coutts shows Sexton Blake a charred piece of paper that is a clever imitation of banknote paper. He says it blew in through the car window of one of his men and was identified as coming from a cottage's chimney. Since forged banknotes have been flooding the city, Coutts is about to lead a raid on the cottage and wants Blake to join him. However, when they arrive there, they find that it has burned to the ground. Blake discovers a gas meter amid the ruins and extracts from it a number of coins all of which have been handled by the forger. Pedro picks up a scent from them and leads Blake and Tinker to a jetty from which a cross-channel ferry recently departed. Commandeering a navy patrol boat, the detectives race across the waterway and arrive in France before the ferry. There, they watch the passengers disembark. Pedro indicates the guilty man.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 896 · 28/04/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE TELEPHONE CLUE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Mrs Jepson works as a charlady for the scientist Mr Agnew. One day, she arrives for work and discovers her employer unconscious on the stairs. She calls Inspector Coutts who brings with him Sexton Blake and Tinker. The next door neighbour turns out to be the chief suspect but he appears to have an alibi for the time when Agnew was attacked. Finding that many telephone calls had been charged to the scientist, Blake phones the exchange and learns that Agnew had arranged to receive an alarm call at six every morning. This, the detective realises, breaks the neighbour's alibi. He explains how to Coutts and Tinker after the man is arrested.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 897 · 05/05/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE TV TRICK
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Sexton Blake turns on the television and tells Mrs Bardell that he doesn't want to be disturbed for half an hour. He watches an interview with Professor Lionel Thrush, an explorer who recently returned from South America with a great Aztec treasure, which is guarded by his Indian servant, Azuma. As the programme starts, the microphone boom swings into the professor's head. The transmission is taken off air and Blake leaps into action. Meanwhile, at the professor's house, Azuma tries to telephone the studio but finds that the line is dead. He heads for a nearby telephone box, not noticing a figure crouched in the shadows of the garden, and is knocked out by a second man. The two crooks, Duke and Barney, burgle the house of the treasure but, as they leave, find themselves captured by Blake and Tinker. The detective explains how he saw through their scheme.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 898 · 12/05/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE LOUTREC DIAMONDS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: In Paris, one of the cleverest thefts ever results in the loss of the Marquis de Loutrec diamonds. Inspector Coutts informs Sexton Blake that he has received word that the gems are due to be smuggled into England. Later, Blake and Tinker watch a newsreel at a cinema and see a report about a plane that made an emergency landing after being damaged by its own cargo. It had been transporting circus animals and a panicked elephant had kicked a hole in the fuselage. This grabs Blake's interest and he immediately pays a visit to Billy Smithson's circus where he asks to be allowed to stay with the elephant for a while. That night, an intruder enters the animal enclosure and is captured by Blake and Tinker. The detective finds the elephant's headdress, which the crook had been trying to recover. He explains that the normally placid animal had been made uncomfortable by the Marquis de Loutrec diamonds which were sewn into the leather.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 899 · 19/05/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE PICKPOCKET'S FIND
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Fingers Fred, a pickpocket whom Sexton Blake had helped to go straight, visits the detective and confesses to a lapse. He had picked a youth's pocket of a small packet, hoping it would be food. It turned out to be a bar of soap, in the back of which was the impression of a key. While Fred takes Tinker to search for the youth, Blake analyses the soap and finds that it had been used for scrubbing a floor. Tinker returns after an unsuccessful mission and leaves with Blake for Cranston's, an expensive watch-maker's. Blake reveals that he had made a key from the impression ... and it fits the door at Cranston's. They enter and catch thieves in the act of cracking the safe. Blake explains how he was able to identify the watch-maker's as the scene of the crime.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 900 · 26/05/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE GLEAMING CAR
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 901 · 02/06/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE SPORTS ROBBERY
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: A gang is stealing the takings at major sporting events. Sexton Blake is called to a south London stadium where one such robbery has occurred, the money being bundled into a car. Inspector Coutts is checking vehicles as they depart, including one that contained an old man, who was dozing, and his nurse. Tinker notes down the license plate of the vehicle as it is allowed through the police barrier and drives away. He’s surprised when Blake hurries him to their own car and sets off in pursuit. When their quarry passes over a viaduct, they see the old man thrown out of the speeding car. Blake instructs his assistant to ignore this and keep after the vehicle. They ram it and the driver and nurse—who proves to be a man in disguise— try to flee but are caught by Tinker. Blake reveals that the old man was a dummy with a hinged back in which the money had been concealed. Blake explains how he spotted the deception.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 902 · 09/06/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE VANISHING WITNESS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Underworld boss Marty Mallison is about to stand trial but his conviction depends on the evidence of one particular witness, a man named Scudder. Unfortunately, as Inspector Coutts reports to Sexton Blake, Scudder has gone missing—he was seen entering the block of flats where he lives but was not seen to leave them. After searching the building and finding no sign of him, they try to leave but find that the lift has broken. As they take to the stairs, Blake has a revelation. They find Scudder bound and gagged on top of the lift. Blake identifies the man who thus attempted to pervert the trial.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 903 · 16/06/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE BLACK THUMB'S TRAP
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 904 · 23/06/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE CLIMBING CAT
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: A cunning burglar known as The Climbing Cat is at work in London, thieving from exclusive hotels. After his latest job, a constable questions an Army general encountered near the scene but the man claims to have witnessed nothing. When Inspector Coutts tells Sexton Blake about the crime, the detective notices that a different uniformed person was questions near every incident and each of them saw nothing unusual. Over the next three nights, Blake, Tinker and Coutts patrol London’s Embankment until, finally, they hear the alarm as another burglary is committed. Chasing the Cat, they lose him in a crowd of sailors, but then Blake sees a particular sailor that he believes to be their man. They give chase and capture him, finding his bag to be full of stolen items. Blake explains how he knew which of the sailors was the thief.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 905 · 30/06/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE FLASHLIGHT THIEF
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 906 · 07/07/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE FIFTH FINGER
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 907 · 14/07/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE FROGMAN'S HAUL
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 908 · 21/07/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE STRIKER OF MATCHES
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 909 · 28/07/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE FIVE FORGERIES
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Inspector Coutts is telling Sexton Blake about forged five pounds notes that are flooding the country when they witness a boy falling from a bridge into the Thames. A man jumps to the rescue and succeeds, though he's knocked out and hospitalised in the attempt. Blake and Tinker reognise that the rescuer was a minor villain named Charlie Olley, who currently sells newspapers. In his abandoned jacket, they find forged notes. Blake disguises Tinker as Olley and the youngster takes over the unconscious man's pitch. While there, he's handed a fresh batch of forgeries by the man behind the scheme. That villain is immediately nabbed by Blake and Trounce.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 910 · 04/08/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE OPEN DRAWER
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 911 · 11/08/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE EAST COAST CATCH
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 912 · 18/08/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE MYSTERY MATCH
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 913 · 25/08/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE GOLF-CLUB CLUE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 914 · 01/09/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE LINER ESCAPE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 915 · 08/09/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE CLUE IN PLASTER
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 916 · 15/09/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE EXPLODING ROCKETS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: This story was reprinted in the KNOCKOUT ANNUAL 1961.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 917 · 22/09/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE BROKEN BICYCLE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Office-boy Teddy Miller is cycling to work when his front wheel suddenly collapses. Sexton Blake and Tinker witness the accident and come to the boy's aid. While Teddy has a plaster applied to his grazed knee in a nearby chemist, Blake visits the estate agent's where the boy works. Callender, the manager, greets him with news that there's been a robbery — £5,000 has been stolen from the safe, which has been opened even though Callender is the only one with a key. Another member of staff, a methodical old-timer named Chivers, potters around the office ... which gives Sexton Blake an idea. He goes out to his car, into the back of which he had put Teddy's bicycle, and examines the broken front wheel. He then re-enters the estate agent's and arrests Chivers for the robbery. he reveals how Chivers opened the safe and how this is related to the collapse of Teddy Miller's bicycle wheel.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 918 · 29/09/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE FIVE FRIED EGGS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 919 · 06/10/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE QUICK CHANGE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Otto Gluckner, a safe-breaker who has just been released from prison, is concerned that his technique is so distinctive that he will require a cast-iron alibi. So he takes a taxi to Baker Street and, outside Sexton Blake's house, picks a fight with the driver, making sure Blake notices the ruckus. The detective and his assistant follow Gluckner as he walks away and moves from street to street, puffing on an unusual pipe. Eventualy he goes into an arcade and spends hours at the pinball tables. When he eventually leaves, Blake starts to follow but is stopped by a police car and told that Inspector Coutts is looking for him. He calls Coutts and learns that a bank safe has just been robbed — with all the hallmark signs of Gluckner's handiwork. Blake swears that the cracksman had never left his sight. That night, they continue to keep watch on the man as he repeats the route previously taken. Suddenly a whiff of tobacco smoke enlightens Blake — a quick change has taken place ... and Blake collars the real Gluckner!
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 920 · 13/10/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE £1,000 MATCH-BOX
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Sexton Blake is passing by when an old match-seller slips into the road and is hit by a car. Later, another match-seller, Marty, is approached by a stranger who takes a box of matches and leaves as payment an old newspaper. Inside this, the Marty finds a great many bank notes. Puzzled, he visits Sexton Blake. While he's there, Blake receives a call from Inspector Coutts who informs him that a spy named Stefan Frobitsch is operating in London, whereabouts unknown. The detective immediately deduces that Frobitsch is in Charing Cross Hospital. He then tells Marty to return to his pitch. The match-seller does so and finds himself confronted by the man who had left the newspaper. Blake swoops and arrests this individual as a spy. He then goes to the hospital where Coutts has placed the first match-seller — Frobitsch — in custody. He has in his possession a match-book in which are concealed stolen plans.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 921 · 20/10/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE ALIBI IN THE RAIN
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: A miserly diamond merchant is attacked from behind and robbed. His unseen assailant actually works for him; it is his under-paid clerk, Tranter, who has planned the robbery with his colleague, Ullman. Inspector Coutts is called to investigate and takes Sexton Blake and Tinker with him to the scene. Meanwhile, Ullman promises to give Tranter an alibi, saying that they spent the evening together before Tranter left in a downpour. As it has not rained in Tranter's part of town, he fakes it by hosing down his car. However, Sexton Blake notices that the windscreen wipers have not been used and so sees through the false alibi.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 922 · 27/10/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE SMITH STREET GANG
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
No cover as yet KNOCKOUT · Issue 923 · 03/11/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE MAGIC SAFE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Unknown)
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
KNOCKOUT · Issue 924 · 10/11/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE MISSING LIGHT
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Sexton Blake and Tinker are with Inspector Coutts when a call comes through about a bank robbery. The young crook was seen racing away in a sports car. The three men jump into Blake's car and set off to track down the villain. However, unknown to them, he has changed cars, replacing the sports model with an old banger, and has removed a mask, revealing that he is considerably older than described. A little later a constable attempts to stop him for some reason. The crook knocks him out and leaves him by the roadside where he is later found by Blake & Co. The detective realises that their quarry has done a quick change and drives along the road examining the various vehicles until he spots the man. The robber attempts to escape but is caught by Tinker. Sexton Blake explains how he realised that the crook had swapped cars.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 925 · 17/11/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE VANISHING VISITOR
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: While driving to the coast, Sexton Blake and Tinker are stopped by a man named Alan Lambert who tells them that an accident has occurred near his hotel at the bottom of a cliffside road. A new guest named Dyson, whom Lambert had been expecting, has driven off the road and crashed onto the rocks below. There is no sign of the body, which suggests it may have been flung out into the rough sea. Blake and Tinker accompany Lambert back to the hotel where Blake phones the police. He tells them that it's a clear case of robbery and kidnapping and Lambert must be arrested. The hotel owner pulls a gun but Blake overpowers him. He then searches the hotel until he finds the missing guest tied up in the cellar. Dyson explains that he has visited the hotel before, always carrying a great deal of money, which Lambert has this time tried to steal by shooting at his car as he drove towards the hotel. Sexton Blake explains the clues that revealed to him the true nature of the 'accident'.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 926 · 24/11/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE SMUGGLER'S MISTAKE
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Unknown)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Blake receives a letter from Sir George Primby who lives in an isolated cliff-top house in Cornwall and who has seen mysterious prowlers around the place. However, upon arrival, Blake is told by Sir George that the whole thing was a mistake. Despite this, the detective explores the region and finds a ketch moored in a nearby cove with a cave close by. In the cave, they find the real Sir George and his butler tied up. The men, once freed, reveal that their replacements are smugglers who are using the house as a base of operations because it has a secret entrance into the cave. The detective enters the house and catches the crooks. He then reveals the mistake they made which led to his suspicions.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 927 · 01/12/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE STRONG-ROOM PLOT
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Unknown)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Former housebreaker Albert Fogmarsh is now on the 'straight and narrow' and earns an honest living as a window cleaner. One day, Tinker is witness to an accident when a car skids into the window cleaner's bicycle, destroying it. The girl passenger orders her chauffeur to buy a replacement bike. He comes back with a scooter, with which Albert is delighted. Meanwhile, Inspector Coutts arrives at Baker Street after having escorted a parcel of diamonds from Holland to a secure warehouse. When Tinker returns and recounts the tale of the broken bicycle, Sexton Blake announces that the diamonds are about to be stolen. They drive to the warehouse. Adjacent to it is the hut where Albert stores his new scooter. Blake takes it out and pushes it into the river where it explodes. The chauffeur and girl come out of hiding nearby and make a run for it but are caught. Blake reveals that the couple had destroyed Albert's bike on purpose so they could replace it with the scooter in which was planted an explosive charge that would have gained them entry into the warehouse.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 928 · 08/12/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE SMASH-AND-GRAB RAID!
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Two men, disguised as water board labourers, perform a smash-and-grab raid on a jewellery shop. Sexton Blake and Tinker are walking nearby and give chase but lose their quarry when the crooks change into painters' overalls and act as if they are just ordinary workmen doing their job of painting a bridge. However, while crossing the bridge, Blake spots an empty rowing boat below. This alerts him to the trick, as the painters should have had a 'safety-man' in the boat. The detective and his assistant collar the two crooks.
Notes: None at present.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 929 · 15/12/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE TELL-TALE MARK
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: After receiving a call for help from a man named Martin Earle, Sexton Blake and Tinker rush to his country cottage. Earle tells Blake that he's worried that something is going to happen to his cousin Clifford who lives on the other side of the river. This fear is based on dreams in which Earle sees Clifford unconscious on his doorstep. The two men are not on talking terms after quarrelling years ago, so Earl has been unable to warn him. Blake telephones Clifford and is told that he's welcome to visit and check that nothing is amiss. While Blake and Tinker wait for the ferry to take them and their car across the river, Martin Earle cycles ahead on a rickety old bicycle, crossing a narrow footbridge. Some time later, the detectives drive past him and arrive at the house where they discover Clifford unconscious just as Earle's dreams had foretold. He is revived and finds that his safe has been broken into and his life savings stolen. After Earle arrives, Blake disappears down the road and returns with a racing bike; its saddlebag filled with the stolen loot. He exposes Earle's trickery — the man had swapped bikes, raced ahead, committed the crime and then doubled back to exchange bicycles again.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 930 · 22/12/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE SULTAN'S STAR
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: The Sultan's Star, one of the most valuable pieces of jewellery in the world, is being sold at auction. Sexton Blake and Tinker are watching the proceedings and look on as the bidding is won by a wealthy collector named Sir Reginald Aston. That evening, Sir Reginald arrives at Baker Street and insists that he was never at the auction. The night before he had been kidnapped and held prisoner in a room with a skylight in which three lights were reflected. One of his captors disguised himself as Sir Reginald and left, obviously to attend the auction. Later, he returned and the real Sir Reginald was blindfolded, driven some miles, then dumped out of the car. Blake calls the Port of London Authority for information before then driving, with Tinker and Sir Reginald, alongside the River Thames until he comes to a certain house. Here, they find the crooks with the Sultan's Star. The detective had recognised the house by a ship which had run aground opposite — and had the three beacons of distress shining from its mast.
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT · Issue 931 · 29/12/1956 · Amalgamated Press · 4d
THE CASE OF THE CHRISTMAS PEARLS
by Anon. (See note, issue 737, 1953) · Illustrator: Anon. (Frank Pashley)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Scotland Yard receives an automated alarm call from Elridge's Store. The police, including Inspector Coutts, Sexton Blake and Tinker, arrive and find the store locked up. Presumably, the intruder is still inside. The manager let's them in and they nab their man only to find that it's Father Christmas! The man claims that he fell asleep after a long day playing with children and was just on his way out. At this point, the manager discovers that a two thousand pound pearl necklace has gone missing. Santa Claus is searched but the necklace is not found in his possession so he is allowed to leave. Blake finds a used tube of glue. He then suggests that they return in the morning. A puzzled Coutts agrees. The following day, Sexton Blake sees a red-faced man buying mistletoe from the floral counter. It is the store Father Christmas and, as the detective now proves, he is a thief — the mistletoe berries are glued-on pearls!
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆
KNOCKOUT FUN BOOK 1956 · Undated · Amalgamated Press · 7/-
SEXTON BLAKE AND TINKER AND THE LEAGUE OF CRIME
by Anon. (Leonard Matthews) · Illustrator: Anon. (Reginald Heade)
PDF: Click here
Other content: Various strips and text stories.
Notes: Ten years after evidence provided by Sexton Blake put him in prison, a criminal named John League escapes and confronts the detective in his Baker Street home. He is interrupted when a girl enters and distracts him. Blake sends League reeling down the stairs and the crook makes a quick getaway. The girl, Joyce Standish, explains that her father, Professor Standish, has vanished after being visited by League. Blake and Tinker travel with her in the Grey Panther to Moreton Manor, her home in Devon. Unknown to them, League is holed up in a nearby priory and sends a giant thug named Igor to kill Blake. The brute attacks but is shot by Blake and lumbers back to the priory with the detective on his tail. League realises that his enemy may have entered the building and orders his men to search it. Blake evades them and rescues their prisoner, Professor Standish. League's men ransack Moreton Manor and steal plans of a mine owned by the professor. Standish reveals to Blake that he's been using the mine for secret government-approved atomic experiments and that League is after the weapon he's developed. Blake heads for the mine and there comes face to face with League. In the ensuing fight, Joyce is rescued and the villain falls down a mine shaft to his death.
Trivia: This is a reprint of the 1949 serial that started with KNOCKOUT issue 529, the only difference being that John Plague's name is inexplicably changed to John League. KNOCKOUT FUN BOOK 1956 also includes a strip entitled SPLASH PAGE AND THE MISSING PRINCE, a solo adventure — and final appearance — for Blake's reporter friend, Splash Page. This same year, over in the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, Page's replacement, Splash Kirby made his first appearance.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
The Clue of the Pin-Up Girl THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 351 · Jan. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 9d
THE CLUE OF THE PIN-UP GIRL
by Walter Tyrer · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: None at present.
Unrated
It Happened in Hamburg THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 352 · Jan. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 9d
IT HAPPENED IN HAMBURG
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: None at present.
Trivia: The villainous female, Magda Andrassy reappears in DARK FRONTIER (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, 4th series, issue 368, 1956)
Unrated
Danger Ahead THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 353 · Feb. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 9d
DANGER AHEAD
by Peter Saxon (W. Howard Baker) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: This is the first issue to carry the red stripe cover design that would become associated with the 'New Order' Blake novels.
Unrated
The Case of the Gangster's Girl THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 354 · Feb. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 9d
THE CASE OF THE GANGSTER'S GIRL
by John Hunter · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: This, the second 'New Order' novel, has a yellow vertical band on the cover rather than the usual red.
Unrated
Devil's Can-Can THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 355 · Mar. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
DEVIL'S CAN-CAN
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: From this issue, the price was raised to 10d.
Unrated
By Whose Hand? THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 356 · Mar. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
BY WHOSE HAND?
by Rex Hardinge · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Commencing with this issue, pin-up photographs were published on the inside front covers of THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY. This proved unpopular with the readership and was soon dropped.
Unrated
Hotel Homicide THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 357 · Apr. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
HOTEL HOMICIDE
by Anthony Parsons · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: The Slaughter of Vera Page (article)
Notes: On the face of it this is a fairly insignificant story in the long-running Sexton Blake saga. But turn to the back page and you'll find an advertisement for the next month's two issues. It reads: 'Watch out for next month's titles FRIGHTENED LADY by W. Howard Baker and FLIGHT INTO FEAR by Peter Saxon Introducing a new attractive character to the Sexton Blake Library ... MISS PAULA DANE!' That marks HOTEL HOMICIDE (together with #358 DECOY FOR MURDER) as the last of the old-style series ... because with the advent of FRIGHTENED LADY Sexton Blake got a major overhaul. He moved from Baker Street to Berkley Square, acquired a secretary and receptionist and got a lot more hard-boiled. HOTEL HOMICIDE clearly suggests that the overhaul was desperately needed. This is by no means a bad story but when held against the Golden Age tales it feels completely flat; lacking the zest of the UNION JACK days. The story concerns an emissary from Kashmir. His secretary is murdered in a hotel and Blake quickly comes to the conclusion that this was done by mistake; the intended victim was the emissary himself. The investigation leads to India where it emerges that the man's most trusted aid is behind the crime. And, really, that's about it. There are no wild chases, no tense confrontations, no fights, not even any impressive deductions. Frankly, any second-rate detective could have handled this case ... there was no point in Blake being involved. And there's something rather too comfortable about the famous detective in this novel. He feels too set in his ways. His politics, though only hinted at, give the impression that he is narrow-minded and conservative; maybe even bigoted: " ... the days have gone when a dark-skinned man was an object of curiosity in this country, unfortunately." Taking all this into consideration, it's not difficult to understand why W. Howard Baker, who became the Editor of the Sexton Blake Library during this period, decided to give the series a kick in the pants. The old formula was very obviously exhausted and the mean streets of the 1950s beckoned. At this point in his long, long history, Blake was poised to take a momentous step ...
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆ Stale, boring and disposable, this is the Sexton Blake Library's absolute nadir.
Decoy for Murder THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 3rd series · Issue 358 · Apr. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
DECOY FOR MURDER
by Peter Saxon (W. Howard Baker) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: In Morocco, a man known as Reinhardt Schulz is overheard by his girlfriend, Cyprienne, plotting with Caid Omar and a man from the Foreign Legion to instigate a tribal revolt in the region. Schulz wants to make money from selling munitions and the Caid wants to reclaim the lands once owned by his family. To incite violence, they persuade the legionnaire to kill a holy man named Si Mahmet ben Hussein. He does this but pins the murder on another legionnaire, Vincent Graham, by planting false evidence. Graham's father commissions Sexton Blake to get at the truth. The detective flies to Granaza in Morocco, where the Legion fort is located. He's followed by a disreputable French reporter of his acquaintance, Achille Hurot. Blake interviews Graham and learns about the other men at the fort: Captain Beck, who is Graham's counsel for defence; Captain Korda, the adjutant; Sergeant Gabin; and Colonel Ricard, who runs the whole outfit. When General Lafosse arrives to look into the matter, his car is attacked by an angry mob of Arabs. Barely escaping, he confronts Ricard and orders that Graham should be handed over to Caid Omar for a trial according to local law. That night, in the fort, a retarded man named Malek — who is little more than an animal and whose only friend was Si Mahmet ben Hussein — closes in on the killer; for Malek had witnessed the crime and wants revenge. He follows the murderer's scent into a room and strangles the man he finds there — General Lafosse. The next morning Graham's ejection from the Legion is halted at the last possible moment by Sexton Blake, who had flown to Casablanca to speak with the authorities. Hurot goes into town and is rescued from aggressive locals by Cyprienne, who happens to be one of his ex-girlfriends. She reveals to him that the growing rebellion has been manipulated by Reinhardt Schulz. Hurot wants to take her to the fort to see Blake but on the way there they are cornered by a baying crowd. Just as things look as bad as they can get, an old man appears and quells the crowd with two tear gas grenades. He leads Hulot and the girl away and, to their surprise, reveals himself as a disguised Blake. After hearing Cyprienne's story, the detective sets a trap by letting it be known at the fort that she is aware of the true murderer's identity. That night, the legionnaire comes after her but finds himself confronted by Blake and Hulot. He flees in a petrol tanker, loses control and crashes it into some houses. The vehicle explodes, killing him. Reinhardt Schulz appears and saves a child from the burning houses before perishing in the flames himself. Vincent Graham is set free and Hulot's relationship with Cyprienne is rekindled.
Trivia: Tinker is sidelined, having just a couple of lines early in the story. For some time now, the Sexton Blake saga has been 'treading water' — no longer what it used to be nor changed into anything else. With the next issue, this situation is addressed — the 'New Order' begins! — and this is indicated in the advertisement for next month's issues (see the notes for HOTEL HOMICIDE, above). This makes DECOY FOR MURDER the very last of the 'traditional' Blakes (though it hardly feels traditional). The final couple of lines are worth noting:
"It's the end of everything, isn't it?" Graham inquired. "And the end of another case for you."
"Yes," Blake said slowly. "The end of another case ..."
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Frightened Lady THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 359 · Jun. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
FRIGHTENED LADY
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: This may well be the most infamous novel in Sexton Blake's long history. It's the first story of the New Order era, kicking into gear wide-ranging revisions and changes of attitude. In this issue, Blake meets Paula Dane who in many of the tales to follow displaces Tinker as his assistant. This didn't go down too well with a lot of fans. It's not that the new partnership is necessarily bad or that the stories suffer (though they can't match the Golden Age tales of the 1920s) ... it's just that Tinker is a great character and didn't deserve to be sidelined. The introduction of sexual tension between the new girl and the great detective doesn't really add any depth to his character or serve any purpose in the stories. It just makes them all feel rather disposable. For such an important issue, FRIGHTENED LADY is surprisingly meagre. Dane has been marked for death by a distant cousin, Simon de Courcy. This wastrel stands to inherit a fortune from his father but only if he is in possession of a family heirloom, a pendant. Unfortunately, de Courcy has a gambling habit and a lot of debts. He pawned the pendant and it was sold to an unknown collector. Without it, he will see the fortune go to the one remaining person in the family: Paula. The only way to prevent this and get his hands on the money is to get the pendant back ... or kill his cousin. So much of the story involves his hunt for both the heirloom and the girl. Of course, Blake steps in and saves her ... but we never find out what happened to the pendant which is frustrating as it's the most interesting part of the otherwise dull and formulaic tale. This story was revised for the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 5th series novel 16 THE FUGITIVE (1965).
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆ Were it not for the changes it made to the Blake format, FRIGHTENED LADY would be long forgotten.
Flight Into Fear THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 360 · Jun. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
FLIGHT INTO FEAR
by Peter Saxon (W. Howard Baker) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Steve Latimer, the ne'er-do-well brother of café owner Lorel Latimer turns up on her doorstep pleading for help. He has stolen a car only to find a dead body on the back seat. Men come hunting for him, murder him, then pursue Lorel. In seeking to escape, she falls into a quarry and knocks herself out. Meanwhile, Sexton Blake and Paula Dane are commissioned to track down the source of a highly addictive new drug named paramycetin. Some of drug was found aboard a corpse recovered after a military plane crashed into the sea — the corpse of a civilian who wasn't meant to be on the plane! Tinker traces this man, whose name was Hassel, to Margate — he was the owner of The Sea-Shell Nightclub. Blake and Paula go there and meet with Captain Rodgers, who's been assigned from the nearby military base (the same from which the crashed plane came) to help them. Interviewing the club manager, Blake learns that Steve Latimer was a regular at the club and was murdered the same night that Hassel disappeared. Furthermore, Lorel Latimer has not been seen since that evening either. Blake decides that finding the girl will help unravel the mystery and so sets off on her track. In fact, Lorel is now suffering from amnesia. Taking work in a shabby hotel, she endures the unwelcome advances of the owner's son, Mortimer Crouch, until, in backing away from him, she falls from a balcony and is severely injured. Crouch, having learned her true identity, goes to her brother's garage hoping to continue the crimes that Steve Latimer had been committing. There, he is shot by Captain Rodgers who then sets the garage alight, leaving the critically injured Crouch inside. Rodgers traces his victim's steps back to the hotel where he then murders the manager after finding out from her that Lorel is in hospital. Sexton Blake rescues Crouch from the blazing garage — getting badly burned in the process — and with his last breath Crouch tells the detective where Lorel is. Blake arrives at the hospital just as Rodgers hijacks an ambulance and makes off with the girl, intending to kill her to stop her from identifying his car as the one her brother had stolen and the corpse in the back as Hassel, whom he had murdered to prevent himself being exposed as the leader of the drug gang. Blake rescues Lorel but the villain escapes. The detective, with Paula, follows him to the military base but there they are held at gunpoint and forced by their quarry to board a plane. It takes off and Rodgers reveals that he intends to dump them into the Channel. Blake fights back and it is Rodgers who falls to his death.
Rating: ★★★★★☆
Dark Mambo THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 361 · Jul. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
DARK MAMBO
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Sexton Blake is called by a theatrical agent named Wellsley. While his wife is in France, he's been having an affair with a young night club singer named Christina Marshall. This girl threatened to tell all unless Wellsley got her a better job on the club circuit — something that would have ruined his reputation as she was a very bad singer. Wellsley had left the girl alone for an hour while he went upstairs to bathe. When he came back down, she was dead, her throat cut. He called Blake because he knew the police would suspect him of being the murderer. The detective visits the girl's mother and discovers that Christina had recently returned from Spain. He informs Superindendent Grimwald that he has accepted the case then visits the London nightclub — which is owned by a man named Sentetti — where Christina used to sing. Angela Traile, who worked with the murdered girl in Madrid, reveals that Christina had been having an affair with a bullfighter named Carlos Ortega but had left Spain very suddenly, apparently frightened by something. The next day, Angela is found dead, her throat cut. Blake and Paula fly to Madrid where Blake's contact, Luis Hortal, informs them that Ortega is back in the city after a mysterious absence. Blake is then contacted by a woman named Sigrid von Neurath who tells him to keep investigating Ortega and to also look into the background of a man named Mario Sforza — the owner of the Milaflores club in Madrid, where the girls used to sing. At the club, Blake meets both these men but they plead innocent of any knowledge related to the girls' deaths. Later, the detective breaks into Ortega's apartment and finds documents which disclose the fact that Ortega, Sforza and Sentetti are white slave traders. Upon leaving, Blake is attacked by Primo and Jose Perez — Ortega's hired thugs — but manages to escape only to find, upon returning to his hotel, that the villains have kidnapped Paula. Ortega telephones him and tells him that she'll be killed unless he drops the investigation and returns to London within 24 hours. Blake finds out from Sigrid von Neurath where his secretary has been taken and follows. He arrives just in time to prevent Paula being raped and engages in a brutal fight with Perez. With help from Hortal, he rounds up all the gang except Ortega, who is at a bullring. Blake, Hortal and Paula go to see him in action but when Hortal shouts to attract the villain's attention, the distraction is deadly — the bullfighter is fatally mauled. Fooled into thinking that Ortega has made a death-bed statement against him, Sforza reveals the true identity of the man who murdered Christina and Angela ... and it's quite a surprise!
Trivia: No mention of Tinker.
Rating: ★★★★☆☆
Broken Toy THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 362 · Jul. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
BROKEN TOY
by Arthur Maclean (George Paul Mann) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Judy Cowell, a typist at an Oxford toy factory, is strangled to death. The police are anxious to contact the head of the factory, Patricia Craven, but she seems to have vanished. Her sister, Dorothy, calls on Sexton Blake and admits that, the last time they were seen, Patricia and Judy had been arguing with each other. The detective, with Paula Dane, meets with Inspector Harman in Oxford. The police inspector tells them that a man named John Chisholm ran the toy-making business after its founder died but was then superseded by Patricia — the founder's daughter — when she came of age. He is now the work's manager. Blake and Paula go to visit Chisholm at the factory and overhear him disciplining a foreman named Jim Murray who has frequently gone absent without permission in recent weeks. Chisholm then introduces them to J. Harrison Quigley, the accountant, and tells them that Patricia has stolen £21,000 from company funds. The next day Chisholm calls the detective and reveals that he's received a suicide note from Patricia, posted the day of her disappearance. Blake tells Paula that he thinks the note is a forgery. He also informs her that he recognised Quigley as an ex-con who'd been convicted for fraudulent accounting. Paula sets out to discover where Patricia really went on her frequent 'business engagements' and follows a trail to an abandoned house. In the garden, she finds a fresh grave — and the killer! He forces her at gunpoint back into the house. When a car approaches and she screams for help, he shoots and she collapses. Two of the three men in the car try to capture the villain but he escapes. The third races for the police but finds, instead, Sexton Blake. Paula — who was merely knocked unconscious when she fell while avoiding the bullet — is hospitalised. Blake arranges for the newspapers to report the fact that she survived the attack, hoping that the villain will try to finish the job. Dorothy volunteers to take Paula's place in the hospital bed and the police make arrangements for the trap to be set — unaware that the scheme has reached the ears of the staff at the factory way ahead of the newspaper's publication. Separately, Quigley, Murray and Chisholm make excuses and leave the factory. Dorothy arrives in Paula's hospital room seconds after the killer. Sexton Blake arrives just after her — as a gun is fired! He tackles the murderer and beats him into submission. The man's identity is finally revealed.
Trivia: No mention of Tinker. The inside front and back covers feature photographs of a model posing as Paula Dane. Personally, I don't think she looks anything like her!
Rating: ★★★★★☆
Front Page Woman THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 363 · Aug. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
FRONT PAGE WOMAN
by Peter Saxon (W. Howard Baker) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: In New York, down-at-heel journalist William Carley spots an opportunity when it's announced that a woman named June Grafton is to marry the son of America's second-richest man, J. Hammond Lomax. It just so happens that June is Carley's wife ... though she doesn't know it, believing that he was killed during the war, making her a widow. So, hoping for an exclusive, Carley sneaks into her hotel suite only to find her sprawled on a bed dead with a pistol laying at her feet. As he makes a rapid exit, he's accosted by Thomas — Miss Grafton's tough secretary — who accuses him of the crime and, after beating him half unconscious, calls the police. A brutal police chief named Frisk takes the case and tries to knock a confession out of Carley. Eventually, a non-too-trustworthy lawyer gets him released. The journalist returns to his hotel room and finds Sexton Blake waiting for him. Blake has been staying in the same hotel as June Grafton and has been commissioned by the management to investigate the case. Already, he has kept from the police a box of bullets which were planted in Carley's room to incriminate him. However, there's a further complication: the pistol found with the girl's corpse once belonged to Carley! Blake and the journalist go to speak to a girl, Amalda Garside, who Thomas has been seeing. She refuses to talk to them and, very soon after, falls — or is thrown — from her hotel room's window. In that room, the detective finds the address of another girl — Shirley Arretto. He and Carley escape from the scene of Amalda's death and pay a visit to Shirley. She tells them that June Grafton and Amalda Garside had both been involved with J. Hammond Lomax. When her husband, a Puerto Rican, arrives, he picks a fight with Blake but this is interrupted by the arrival of two of Lomax's thugs who use extreme violence to try to find out what Shirley has revealed. Blake, Carley and Shirley manage to extricate themselves and flee. Shirley convinces Carley that Blake is going to betray him to the police in order to claim a reward. The journalist and girl slip away from the detective but it's a trap; Shirley leads Carley straight to Frisk! Making a desperate escape, Carley eventually finds himself reunited with his ex-girlfriend Regina — a meeting that has been arranged by Sexton Blake. She persuades him that Blake is on his side and Carley once again teams up with the detective, who reveals to him the identity of the person behind the murders. This information proves Carley's innocence, ending the case. Frisk's career is also finished.
Trivia: Interestingly, this case is recounted in first person by William Carley.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Inclining to Crime THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 364 · Aug. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
INCLINING TO CRIME
by Arthur Kent · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Sexton Blake is investigating a gangster named Don Ricardo. Ricardo has a couple of bodyguards — Michael Banion and Johnston O'Mallory — and a down-on-her-luck actress named Betha Warrington for a girlfriend. He owns a number of businesses and recently three of his warehouses burned down, giving him a potential bonanza in insurance payouts. Now he seems to be fixing boxing matches too; something which catches the eye of Daily Post sports writer, Jimmy Whitmore. So when Blake and Paula Dane tail Ricardo's car after a particularly savage boxing match, they find that Whitmore's Ford is also sticking close to the gangster. The parties gather at a nightclub where Blake provokes Ricardo, who takes it out on Betha, who leaves with Whitmore. Banion is ordered to sort Whitmore out. When the reporter leaves Betha at her flat — having failed to get a story out of her — the drug-addicted thug is not far behind. Banion follows him home and murders him with a pickaxe. Meanwhile, Blake continues to provoke Don Ricardo by informing him over the phone that the insurance company has evidence that the warehouse fires were cases of arson. He then poses as a journalist and visits boxing promoter Laeslie Cooper, who fixed a fight for the gangster. The two men fight and, even though Cooper is an ex-pro, Blake triumphs. Unfortunately, he still doesn't get the confessions he was hoping for. Next, he visits Betha but, again, no information is forthcoming. He sets his sights on the man who deals with Ricardo's finances — Conrad Dietz — who Tinker has been gathering information about. Ricardo responds to the detective's continual probing by instructing his henchmen to kill Cooper, who has fled to Gravesend. Blake learns about this from Banion's disgruntled girlfriend and rushes to the ex-boxer's rescue ... too late! Cooper is shot dead. The detective puts bullets into Banion and O'Mallory, hospitalising both. Don Ricardo murders Dietz to stop him talking to Blake but is then confronted directly by the detective. One of the gangster's employees comes to his aid and Blake is knocked unconscious. A little later, as he recovers, he hears Ricardo being shot dead. Blake is found by Superintendent Grimwald and reveals to the Scotland Yard man that Ricardo was merely a puppet leader — the real gang leader's identity has been kept carefully concealed. Banion escapes from hospital after hearing of Ricardo's death and goes to see Betha. Blake interrupts their meeting and exposes the identity of the real gang boss. Banion and Betha end up fighting and killing each other.
Trivia: Tinker is mentioned but doesn't appear. According to a statement made by Blake, Tinker doesn't live at Baker Street with him any more but in a flat of his own.
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
Night Beat THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 365 · Sep. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
NIGHT BEAT
by Arthur Maclean (George Paul Mann) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Police Sergeant Joe Williams is 'on the take' — accepting bribes from a criminal named Straker. However, when his girlfriend Kathy O'Neal goes missing, he challenges the crook. Straker orders his Teddy Boy henchman — Nicky Deutsch — to teach Williams a lesson but Nicky goes too far and, leading a seven-strong gang, beats the policeman to death. Superintendent Grimwald calls Sexton Blake with the news. The Baker Street man has been investigating Williams for the Assistant Commissioner of police but has found no solid evidence against him. Blake learns that Kathy was last seen speaking with Deutsch, so goes to the Teddy Boy's flat and finds him there with a woman named Pat Charters, who had once been obsessively in love with Blake. The 'interview' is inconclusive, though Nicky takes a beating from the detective. Blake convinces Pete Larue, a man disfigured by Straker after betraying him, to do some digging into Straker's 'business affairs'. They arrange to meet in a bar but on the way there are both set upon by a gang of Teddy Boys and Larue is killed. Afterwards, while Blake's cuts are being stitched, Grimwald reveals that Larue had a piece of paper in his pocket upon which was written the mysterious word: Barras. Against doctor's order's, Blake leaves Baker Street and gatecrashes a meeting between Straker, Deutsch, and a big man named Pug. He pistol-whips Deutsch and warns Straker to call his thugs off. Paula Dane recognises 'Barras' as the name of a French film producer. Arthur 'Splash' Kirby has more information: Jean-Louis Barras's films are extremely X-rated! Kirby also has a personal debt to pay to the French man, believing him to be the same individual who tortured him when he was taken prisoner during the war. When they discover that the film producer has flown to Nice — and that Kathy O'Neal is with him — Blake and Kirby follow. Upon landing, Blake is handed a wire from Grimwald which reports that an attempt was made to abduct Paula and that Tinker was seriously injured while protecting her. He is now in critical condition in hospital and requires an operation. Blake is approached by Jean Fremont, who has been sent to help by the detective's French contact, Laperrine. The next day, Lemont and his associate, Juliot, drive Blake and Kirby to a canyon at the edge of Barras's property and there try to kill them. However, Blake has already realised that Lemont is an impostor and manages to turn the tables on him. Blake and Kirby, with help from Laperrine, invade Barras's home with guns blazing. Barras and his thugs are killed and Kathy is rescued. She confirms that Straker used Barras to get her away from Joe Williams, who the crook was planning to frame, so she couldn't provide an alibi. The detective and journalist fly back to England — where Tinker is making a full recovery — and there learn that Straker has been killed by Deutsch, who has ambitions to be the 'boss crook'. Blake convinces Pug to turn Deutsch's supporters against him and then confronts the thug, beating him half senseless before handing him over to the police.
Trivia: We get some background information about Splash Kirby in this story. During the war he served with the Airforce and was shot down over France in 1944. He was taken prisoner by the pro-German French police and 'roughed up' by Barras before being handed over to the Germans to be made a prisoner-of-war. Once again Tinker is off-stage for yet another case, though he does make a fleeting appearance and speaks one line. He is scarred for life during the course of this tale (it's not specified where but its probably around his throat).
Rating: ★★★★☆☆
Requiem for Redheads THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 366 · Sep. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
REQUIEM FOR REDHEADS
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: Death Calls for the General (a problem in detection posed by Peter Saxon and featuring Sexton Blake)
Notes: A serial-killer is on the loose — and his three victims were all redheads, were all strangled, and all had surgical tape stuck over their mouths after they died. The first was murdered in Cardiff, the second in Manchester, and the third in London. At the third murder scene, Inspector Coutts reveals to Blake, Tinker and Paula Dane that there was a fourth murder, six weeks ago in New York. Arthur 'Splash' Kirby adds further information: all four girls had once been members of a stage act called 'The Twelve Auburns'. This leads Blake to Aubrey Mason, an important name in the theatre world. Visiting his office, Blake finds Mason in a meeting with two men: Gregory Fisch and Colin Peebles. The latter had been a part of the same show the girls performed in, while Fisch, who works with Mason, seems to hate the theatre promoter. Blake also discovers that the file containing the twelve girls' addresses has vanished. Mason remembers the addresses of two of them, so Blake sends Tinker to guard one while he takes care of the other — Shirley Day, who is now a prostitute. She sends him packing, not wanting his help ... but moments later is murdered! The detective realises that the killer arrived — and left — at the wheel of an old taxi. He rushes to meet Tinker, who is escorting his redhead, Joy Grafton, from the bar where she works. As she exits, someone shoots her dead. The girl is hospitalised, in critical condition. Paula traces another of the twelve girls and Tinker and a couple of Yard men are dispatched to keep watch on her. That evening, at Baker Street, Sexton Blake is attacked but when Paula intervenes the assailant makes off, unseen, dropping his wallet as he flees. It bears the name Orsby Mappin. He proves to be an entertainer — a quick-change artist who was billed as 'The Man of a Thousand Faces'. Recently, he was told by a doctor that he has only a few months to live. But, wonders Blake, where is he? A midnight call from the detective's American agent reveals the truth — not everyone is who they seem to be! As he realises the murderer's real identity, Blake is confronted by the man himself, who has entered the Baker Street apartment via the fire escape. He explains his motive then prepares to shoot Blake — but Coutts comes to the rescue. Mappin's heart gives out and he dies.
Trivia: Sexton Blake's new Baker Street flat seems quite small, with the bedroom and kitchen both adjacent to the lounge. Blake lives there alone; Tinker has his own flat (though we're not told where). Once again, Tinker has barely any scenes, having been supplanted by Paula Dane.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆
Assignment in Beirut THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 367 · Oct. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
ASSIGNMENT IN BEIRUT
by James Stagg · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Sir Anthony Preston commissions Sexton Blake to find his missing son. Simon Preston had gone to Beirut to investigate the death of his elder brother, Robert, who had supposedly died from a drugs overdose a year previously (though the family don't believe this was the true cause of his demise). Now Simon has been missing for two months. Blake and Paula Dane go to Beirut and almost instantly find themselves being shot at. It seems that someone doesn't want them to investigate! Blake encounters an old 'varsity friend, Sheik Hamid al Ainr al Khoury — otherwise known as 'Hammy' — and his French girlfriend, Michele. They promise to meet up socially as soon as possible. Blake goes to the Hotel Mimosa, where Robert had been found dead, and is handed a note by a scared young woman named Kerima. It reads: The Eunuch — and is in Simon's handwriting. Upon leaving the premises, the detective is attacked by thugs led by a shrouded figure with a high-pitched voice. He escapes and the thugs kill one of their own men to prevent him falling into the hands of the police. Inspector Khalid, head of the Lebanese Anti-Narcotics Bureau reveals that the dead thug was part of a huge drugs operation. He asks Blake to help him to wipe it out. Blake and Paula conspire to get Kerima out of the Hotel Mimosa. They succeed but discover that she is a drug-addict, too far-gone to be of help. They commit her to hospital where she is later murdered. While at a nightclub with Hammy and Michele, Blake recognises the owner, Abdul Wazir, as one of the thugs who attacked him. Late that night, he breaks into the club to try to find evidence but is captured and knocked out. Paula goes to Hammy's house to ask for his assistance but outside it is also taken captive by Wazir. Blake recovers consciousness and finds himself in his friend's house. He breaks free and liberates Paula in time to see the gang fleeing, with the shadowy 'Eunuch' in command. Blake and Paula pursue the villains to the caves where the drugs operation is based. In a ferocious gunfight, the Eunuch is killed and his/her true identity revealed. Wazir also turns out to be someone else entirely! Simon Preston is rescued from the gang's clutches.
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
Dark Frontier THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 368 · Oct. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
DARK FRONTIER
by Arthur Maclean (George Paul Mann) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Against his will, atomic physicist Janos Radek is smuggled out of the Eastern European country of Esto-slavia leaving his daughter, Karsta, behind. Sent to trial as an enemy of the State, Karsta is imprisoned pending execution. Sexton Blake is approached by Eustace Craille and told to rescue the girl. He has been chosen for the mission because he bears an uncanny resemblance to a traitor named George McGinnis, who had virtual free-run of the police state. McGinnis was recently shot dead by another of Craille's agents, Terence Lambton, but Craille has covered this up, even fooling Lambton into believing that McGinnis survived. Blake is sent to hospital to pretend to be the recovering man. Lambton, though, obsessed with his failure, follows him when he leaves and tries once more to kill 'McGinnis'. Blake overpowers him, exposes him as a traitor to Craille's organisation, and hands him over. Craille personally shoots Lambton dead. Blake is introduced to the woman who will assist him on his mission: Magda Andrassy, who had been his enemy in IT HAPPENED IN HAMBURG (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY, 3rd series, issue 352, 1956). She now works for Craille. At the airport, as they leave, Craille informs Blake and Magda that Esto-slavia is becoming politically unstable, with the chief of the Secret Police, Khrasov, and the head of the espionage service, Vrannar, battling for power. Upon their arrival in the capital city of Drovno, they quickly find themselves in the midst of a civil war. Blake is ordered to Khrasov's office where he and Magda are accused of spying for Vrannar. With the detective's false identity about to be compromised, he and the girl are forced to fight their way out of the Ministry building. Blake, though, doubles back and engages in hand-to-hand combat with the police chief. Khrasov is killed by his own gun. Blake calls Vrannar and, in the guise of McGinnis, fools him into thinking that an air-strike against his forces is imminent. 'McGinnis' convinces Vrannar that he can call off the attack — but only in return for Karsta's freedom. Within the hour, Blake, Magda and Karsta fly to freedom.
Trivia: This tale marks the debut of Eustace Craille. We learn that Blake used to work for him during the war years but hasn't seen him since 1946. Among the missions the detective undertook with the spymaster was one to Esto-slavia in 1944. Craille's office is in Belgrave Square. Tinker and Paula Dane make only a fleeting appearance in this issue. Sexton Blake's study has a crimson carpet. The entrance hall of his apartment has a parquet floor. This story was later used by W. Howard Baker for a DANGER MAN paperback, issued to tie in with the TV series.
Rating: ★★★★★☆
Woman of Saigon THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 369 · Nov. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
WOMAN OF SAIGON
by Peter Saxon (W. Howard Baker) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Matt Jarvis needs money so he can flee from the American community in Saigon with his mistress, Tatiana — he knows that leaving his wife, Hildegard, will bring the wrath of the community upon him. He approaches a man named Chen, who is an agent of North Vietnam, to whom he had previously sold information of great sensitivity to the State. Now he threatens to expose Chen unless the oriental hands over ten thousand dollars. Chen responds by assassinating Jarvis. With his last breath, Jarvis tells his wife Chen's name. She attempts to infiltrate the villain's organisation but is captured and taken to Hanoi where she is held prisoner. Meanwhile, Sexton Blake, who has been in the country seeking evidence against Chen for the past two weeks, interviews Hoskins, the manager of the bank where Jarvis used to work. He hears about Jarvis's affair with Tatiana and later learns that she is employed by Chen. He questions her and is told about a religious cult named Hoa Hao, which has raised an army led by a renegade named Ba Cut. Chen has been supplying arms to the fanatical troops, which seems strange to Blake, as the army has been fighting against North Vietnam, which Chen apparently supports. Tatiana reveals that Chen is playing a double game, with the ultimate intention of overthrowing the South. She leads the detective to a house in Hanoi which the warlord is using as his base — but then betrays Blake, who is captured and thrown into the cell where Hildegard is being kept. She fills in more details for the detective, who quickly realises that Chen is just a puppet of another power. Rescue comes in the form of Tatiana, who has also been playing a double game. Chen is captured and flown back to Saigon, where he is handed over to the authorities. Blake then exposes and confronts the true villain, who dies in a hail of machine gun fire provided by Ba Cut.
Trivia: This was very extensively rewritten and expanded as a Richard Quintain novel entitled THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED by W. Howard Baker (Mayflower Books, 1967). The non-Blake version features a character named 'Lawless'.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Canvas Jungle THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 370 · Nov. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
CANVAS JUNGLE
by Arthur Maclean (George Paul Mann) · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: He Talked Himself to Death (article)
Notes: Bookmaker Maxie Krantz orders boxing promoter Joe Levine to ensure that Kid Wilde should take a dive in the fifth round. The Kid objects strongly to this, and when Maxie's wife, Velda, visits him and tells him to win the fight, Wilde is only too happy to follow her, rather than her husband's, command. However, the fight doesn't go to plan — his opponent cheats and Wilde is knocked out in the sixth. After the fight, he is then beaten half-senseless by Maxie's thugs. He wakes up in a Levine's flat with no memory of his ordeal. Two detectives turn up, inform him that Maxie Krantz has been murdered, and arrest him. Sexton Blake receives a visit from the solicitor who's representing the boxer. She asks him to investigate the case. Blake speaks to Superintendent Arthur Grimwald and learns that the police have evidence that Wilde went to Maxie's place after being beaten up. He also learns that Joe Levine is missing. Next, he interviews Wilde in Brixton Prison. The boxer admits to him that he has no memory of what happened between being attacked and awakening in Levine's apartment. He does, though, reveal that the promoter has an ex-girlfriend, Shani Woolf, who works in the Malibu club. Blake goes there to find her and she advises him to talk to Velda. As he leaves the club, the detective is accosted by two thugs and taken to Maxie's rival gang boss, Lanzetta, who warns him to drop the case. Grimwald gets in touch with news: Joe Levine has been found dead. Blake visits the mortuary and plants evidence on the body to incriminate Lanzetta. He asks Splash Kirby to help him keep watch on the gang boss's movements. While doing so, he learns that Wilde has escaped from prison. Blake and Kirby follow Lanzetta and witness him confronting Velda and Wilde. Blake's plan has worked; in trying to save his own skin, Lanzetta exposes the real killer. A gunfight ensues and Lanzetta is killed. The other two are wounded. Grimwald arrives and Blake identifies the murderer and explains the method and motive for the crime.
Trivia: Tinker is once again noticeable by his absence — something that Sexton Blake himself comments on and decides must be corrected.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Battle Song THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 371 · Dec. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
BATTLE SONG
by W. Howard Baker · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: Edward "Tinker" Carter has fallen in love with a girl named Selma James but when she starts questioning him about Sexton Blake's activities he begins to wonder whether she is being adversly influenced by the political organisation she supports: The British Action Party. When her flatmate, an actress named Janet Boise, is murdered, Tinker's suspicions deepen and Blake takes up the case. He asks Marion Lang to befriend Selma and to join the B.A.P. The party is led by Quentin Ballinger; his deputy is Michael Hastings; and, as Marion quickly discovers, the organisation has sinister undertones. Having got information from a member named Dick Warwick, who belongs to the mysterious Special Service Section of the party, Miss Lang makes a desperate telephone call to Blake and informs him that something is going to happen on the following Tuesday: Operation Three Five Four. Before she can expand on that statement, she is caught and taken prisoner by a thug named Sullivan. Blake questions Selma and deduces that the operation may involve the assassination of Marshal Vrannar, the Prime Minister of Estoslavia (see DARK FRONTIER, SBL4 issue 368), who is due to visit Britain. Acting on information from Splash Kirby, Blake traces Marion Lang to a house called Rookwood and rescues her only to be captured himself then, in turn, rescued by her. The following day, at a rally in Trafalgar Square, Ballinger uses the murder of Janet Boise as an example of Britain's decline and fanatically opposes Vrannar's forthcoming visit. Still unsure what the party is up to, Blake visits Michael Hastings, who seems to be politically moderate and unaware of any plot, then breaks into the B.A.P. HQ where he finds evidence of their plan. Caught red-handed, he flees and is picked up by Tinker in the Grey Panther. A hand grenade blows up the car and Blake and Tinker only just escape with their lives. The detective wakes up in hospital with the solution to the plot in his mind and rushes to prevent the assassination of Vrannar. He succeeds, and the man behind the scheme is exposed.
Trivia: After Marion Lang damages Blake's Bentley, the Grey Panther is brought out of retirement but is then destroyed by the villains.
Rating: ★★★★☆☆
Murder - With Love! THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY · 4th series · Issue 372 · Dec. 1956 · Amalgamated Press · 10d
MURDER — WITH LOVE!
by Jack Trevor Story · Illustrator: Unknown
Other content: None
Notes: American investigator Bill MacKenzie asks Blake to trace the whereabouts of his English agent, a non-too scrupulous man named Spot Duffey. Duffey had been looking for Herman Koestler, the long lost brother of an American millionaire. The latter’s daughter, Lini Delaware, is also in England searching for her uncle, but her husband, Cliff, secretly doesn’t want the man found. Furthermore, he wants his wife dead, which would make him the heir to her father’s fortune. In tracing Duffy, Blake uncovers a wartime secret and a trail of murders. Duffy, seeking revenge for a family tragedy, initially works with Cliff Delaware but, after going one step too far, is killed by him. Delaware then murders his wife and takes her stepsister and that woman's daughter captive. In seeking to escape, he kills again and again until, finally, death comes to him from an unexpected quarter.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆ An unusually brutal and humourless tale from Story and one that fails to satisfy due to Blake being fairly inactive throughout.



1955
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1957






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