Friday, December 23, 2011


"Well... it's monday night in San Francisco and we're keeping our weekly date with Gregory Hood and his friend Sanderson Taylor. Tonight's rendezvous is at one this city's oldest and best restaurants - Fior d'Italia. The furnishngs are tasteful, the music discreet, and the veal à la maison, so Gregory tells me, is incomparable. Let's join them, shall we?"
"The Black Museum"

Listening to audio-dramas is for me always a race against time. Or more specifically, sleep. I only listen to audio-dramas in bed and I close my eyes to concentrate on the audio. It probably doesn't take a genius to guess that I thus often, very often, very very often fall asleep while I'm listening to audio-dramas. It usually takes me days to finish a drama, because I keep falling asleep halfway through, forgetting most of the story. So then I have to re-listen from the point I do remember. Rince and repeat. Efficient, I certainly am not.

On one hand, scripts of audio-dramas are a solution to that problem, as I can actually read the stories. The downside is of course that I miss the audial element of the audio dramas. Which in some circles is considered a fairly important feature of audio dramas. Forcing me to choose between sleep and audio though, leaves the latter with no chance at all.

I have listened to... the first part of several radio plays in The Casebook of Gregory Hood series, but I don't think I ever finished one. Or at least, never while I was awake. So the book of The Casebook of Gregory Hood, collecting fourteen scripts of the radio play, was my way of cheating me out of it. The Casebook of Gregory Hood (the show) was an invention of Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, following the amateur sleuthing adventures of Gregory Hood in San Fransisco, assisted by his laywer Sandy. I could go on telling about Antony Boucher, or repeat everything that is said in the introduction of the book and is found in every review of the book on the internet about how the show came to be, but let's be honest: I see no reason in doing because it's out there already. Yes, I am lazy.

My third-rate writing style compels me to compare The Casebook of Gregory Hood to Ellery Queen's The Murdered Moths and Other Radio Mysteries. Not original, but it gives me a structure to build my review on. Anyway, it is pretty natural that the stories in The Casebook of Gregory Hood feel like the Queen radio plays, considering Boucher worked on that show. This is hardly a bad thing though, as Queen's show was great. Gregory Hood thus also offer fair-play mysteries with all the classic staples of the genre and is generally also very rewarding to read/listen. Plotwise, we have adventures that feature some great mysteries: a woman who comes back to life (The Red Capsule), a psychic who can predict the future (The Derringer Society), a locked room murder with our hero as the main suspect (Gregory Hood, Suspect). And to top it off, a clown gets killed (The Sad Clown). There is no shortage to interesting settings. In true Queen-style, these mysteries are solved by Hood by carefully examining the clues and coming with a logical answer a listener / reader could have deduced himself. In this sense, The Casebook of Gregory Hood is an entertaining read.

Yet I do not find Gregory's adventures as interesting as Queen's adventures. Maybe it's the characters of Gregory (playboy/connoisseur of everything/importer) and Sandy (lawyer), whom feel a bit too much like Philo Vance / Markham duo. At any rate, the stories 'feel' less memorable than the ones in Queen's The Adventures of the Murdered Moths and Other Radio Mysteries, which might be an unfair comparison. 'Cause most of the stories collected in The Casebook of Gregory Hood are good and fun. It's just that the other book, from the same publisher, in the same format, featuring similar stories is just better. Both books are good, but they are too much alike to escape the comparison in my mind.

I had forgotten though, how much fun reading a radio-script is. Writing a complete story in mostly direct quotes (conversation) is pretty difficult, but when it's done well, it results in a very pleasant read. Having read mostly Japanese novels lately, this more conversation-focused method of telling a story feels much more natural to me.

Overall, The Casebook of Gregory Hood is an amusing collection of good old fashioned fair-play radio mysteries that is good. There is a better one out there, but this book is still a very, very solid silver medalist.
Oh, and why I didn't write something on every single story like I usually do? I'm just too lazy. You wouldn't believe how many transformations this review went through before I ended up with this. It first started as a radio script-styled review.


  1. I just knew you would draw a comparison with the EQ collection and emphasize how you liked that one better, but glad to read you still appreciated the Gregory Hood stories for what they are.

    It's a pity that the only other collection of radio plays is John Dickson Carr's The Dead Sleep Lightly.

    By the way, did you spot the guest (crossover) appearance of another famous detective?

  2. No, I think I missed that... I kinda had to squeeze in this book and The Caves of Steel between other things, so I guess carelessness on my part.

    I really tried to ignore the EQ thing, 'cause it was just so obvious. But they're just too similar...