Monday, August 19, 2013

Sexton Blake: The Trail of the Golden Girl

Yes, I read another Sexton Blake book over the weekend. What can I say? I'm having a lot of fun with these relics from the 1960s. The thing is though, they are often surprisingly well written. This one, The Trail of the Golden Girl, written by Rex Dolphin, is the most hardboiled of the sixties era Blakes I've read so far, and one of the best written.
   It's also the most 1960s intensive so far. The first scene is set in an abandoned house that a bunch of hippies and one would be rock star have turned into a swinging pad. Unfortunately some bad guys show up and murder one of the group in a very brutal way. It turns out that the murdered hippy was actually a reporter in disguise, a young man who was the protégé of Sexton Blake's old pal, Arthur 'Splash' Kirby. Kirby sets out to find the men who killed his young friend, putting his own life in danger.
   Meanwhile a wealthy businessman seeks Sexton Blake's help in locating his missing daughter, the Golden Girl of the title. Not surprisingly it turns out that the two cases are connected. Blake and his blonde secretary Paula Dane head for the wilds of Cornwall to search for the girl among the groups of hippies who congregate there. Tinker is once again relegated to the sidelines, but he shows up a few times to call Blake 'guv'nor' and to question the hip young things who wouldn't give a square like Blake the time of day.
   This book has more violence than all the other Sexton Blake books I've read so far combined. Stabbing, strangling, shooting, fistfights, a character being hit by a car and another character being stomped to death. Blake has a bit more of an edge to him in this one as well. As I said, there's a lot of sixties color, with a lot of talk about marijuana and the use of lots of 1960s terms like mod, fab, and the like. The hippies are presented in a negative light for the most part and at one point Blakes gives a bunch of them a very establishment style dressing down.
   Anyway, The Trail of the Golden Girl is less a Sexton Blake book than a hard edged crime novel that happens to feature Sexton Blake. A more turbulent book for more turbulent times.


Keith West said...

Interesting. I may have to hunt some of these down. I hadn't heard of them until you started this series.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Keith, they're a lot of fun. I need to do a big post about how Sexton Blake went from Sherlock Holmes style detective to Doc Savage style adventurer to Philip Marlowe style private eye over a period of over 70 years and over 4000 stories.