|The Rev Simon Cherry
(creator: Gale Pedrick)
|The Rev Simon Cherry had, in the Second World War, been "Captain Simon Cherry, D. S.O, chaplain to the forces". And the Distinguished Service Order was only one of the medals that he had been awarded. He had distinguished himself by establishing a casuality clearing centre in a heart of the action then later escaping from prison camp, knocking out two guards with the cricket bat that he always carried with him! He had previously taken a commando course.
Usually known just as The Rev., he still looks "not a day over at 40", and is based in Wapping in London, where he works at a settlement for Dead End Kids, "where he functioned as president, secretary, treasurer and a good deal else". As his ex-batman explains, "He doesn't just sit down ... and try and work people's problems out on paper. No, 'e goes out and tackles things with his own two 'ands and when the wrong-uns come the rough stuff, believe me, 'e knows what to do with 'em. But if anybody's in need ..."
He has a "swarthy, almost saturnine face" and dark eyes, and did not smile too often. "In repose, his face was almost sombre, but when he smiled, an irresistible impulse of amusement or affection contracted every muscle of his face into an expression that was full of a gentle and kindly charm." But he is a kind, attractive-looking man, with a sense of humour, who has hunches and is prepared to act on them. He is also a compulsive snuff-taker who particularly enjoys playing Bach on his huge piano. "He was fond of saying that he liked his music cool and logical."
Gale Pedrick (? - 1970), was an experienced British free-lance researcher and broadcaster who became an influential BBC script editor. He also published a number of books including The World Radio and Television Annual, Profitable Scriptwriting for TV and Radio, Life with Rossetti, Steptoe and Son at the Palace, and Meet the Rev, as described below. He had created the popular BBC series, Meet the Rev in the late1940s, and had co-scripted the Hammer Films production of Meet Simon Cherry (1949) that was developed from it. He eventually retired to Bigbury on Sea in Devon.
Meet the Rev. (c1949)
An old friend, young Pauline Mallory, asks him to officiate at her forthcoming wedding to Brian Harling, but he had had "a nervous breakdown" and sounds a strange, if not positively dangerous, partner, so The Rev. thinks he had better make a few enquiries. To do this, he enlists the help of his ever-faithful ex-batman, Charlie Banks, now licensee of the Lovers Knot pub next door, who seems to have all the time in the world to drive him around and help him out.
it is Pauline who tells The Rev. about the one unpublished volume of her grandfather's diary (he had been a doctor involved in the 1893 murders). Then this disappears. An old lady, whose sister had been one of those murdered in 1893, finds her life endangered. And there's a frightening old man, both deaf and blind, who is kept locked up in an upstairs room. Not to mention a blackmailer at large. So there is plenty of action and the interest is held throughout, except possibly during all of a flashback to the events of 1893.
The characters are well drawn with the possible exception of Charlie Banks, the ultra-loyal Cockney ex-batman, who comes across as more of a stereotype, saying things like, "Steady on, guv'nor. You're giving me the creeps! You don't really think it's the same old looney come back!". And it is he who, after he "had been grinding his teeth for some minutes, gave vent to an angry, snorting sound." Obviously one of the lower classes.
There are some nice humorous touches, as when a tipsy old lady positively insists that The Rev. and Charlie should join her for a glass of sherry. They both "looked with horror at the highly coloured label on the bottle and read: 'Rich Full-Bodied Sherry-Style Honey-Amber Wine. All-British.' "
The Rev. does not seem to bother with worship or prayer, and, in the end, is more convincing as a benevolent man of action than as a priest. But there are some really exciting episodes, as when he confronts his chief suspect, and it all works up to a dramatic finish before which the reader is given every chance to identify the killer before The Rev. reaches the same conclusion. The killer's eyes "were an unearthly, glacial blue, the pupils contracted to pinpoints. They were the eyes of a raving madman." Oh well, that explains it.
|The cover mentions the radio programme - a strong selling point for the book.|