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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

"Adventures of a Black Bag" by A J Cronin

People of my age and older will remember Doctor Finlay's Casebook, the television series that starred Bill Simpson as Dr Finlay, Andrew Cruickshank as old Dr Cameron and Barbara Mullen as the housekeeper Janet, set in the fictional Scottish village of Tannochbrae.

These are some short stories about Dr Finlay, although they are mostly set in the industrial port of Levenford; Tannochbrae being a small village nearby. The stories are set in the pre-National Health days when you had to pay for the Doctor's consultation; one of the stories features the new and controversial diagnosis of Appendicitis and a number of the treatments involve little more than good food and bed rest. As a social document, the stories are interesting.

But I couldn't stand Dr Finlay. Not only is he a goody goody but he is as omniscient as God and as prone to performing miracles. Almost every story revolves around the way the wicked and naughty characters he encounters are brought back to the straight and narrow by this interfering and meddlesome healer who is able to do far more for their souls than for their bodies. He is a paragon of virtue and thoroughly dislikeable.

The stories themselves are very short, very simple moral fables. In this brief format, Cronin has little opportunity to develop character and most of those we encounter are thoroughly two-dimensional, selected for the role they will play in the plot, which is mostly to allow Finlay to redeem them.

A definite whiff of medical romance stories.

Other A J Cronin books in this blog:

  • The Keys of the Kingdom which is a full length novel with a real, complex character and is sooooooo much better than these short stories.
  • Hatter's Castle: about the fall of a prideful bully
  • The Citadel a novel about an idealistic voung doctor who goes astray


August 2015; 158 pages

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