The Madison Case, by Francis Durbridge

Paul Temple and his wife Stella, returning on a cruise liner from a trip to the States, meet an American businessman who says he's travelling to England to try and find out about his past: he'd been brought up in the US after having been found on the street with no memory of how he got there. But there seems to be something else going on: Madison, the private detective who supposedly found out about the businessman's past, is not someone Temple has ever heard of, and when they get back to the UK, people start getting killed.

I think this must be a reasonably late story in the Temple canon - it's about 1985 I think - and it felt pretty tired, as if this is just going through the motions. It wasn't as good a story as the other Durbridge book I read recently.

The plot was very uninteresting: in fact I'm not exactly sure what happened because I kept losing interest, and most of it comes out at the end when Temple explains everything to his wife (and us) after planting a bug and listening to the criminals helpfully discussing exactly what they'd done - not even Temple works out for himself what happened. There were also at least three occasions where they arrange to meet someone who promises to confess some information ("but can't do it now, it'll have to wait until we meet"), and that person is later found dead before the meeting. It just got boring.

I think the thing wasn't helped by the fact that it was another one read by Michael Tudor Barnes (last seen causing damage to Prison Ship). He does have a decent sounding, rather Donald Sinden-ish voice, but he's just not very good at bringing the story to life. Like in that book, you feel you're being told the story in a rather condescending ("don't worry too much, we'll take care of it") kind of way, which contrasts starkly with the recent Prey books I've read where you feel you're getting the inside story on the action.

Just going by this book, I wouldn't bother with any more Temple stories.

Completed : 25-Apr-2012 (audiobook)

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