The Mourning Brooch continues our theme of intriguing yet frustratingly obscure early Patrick Malahide projects. RFodchuk wrote a blog post about its recent appearance on Mr. Malahide’s IMDB which inspired me to order the novel by Bill Craig (who also wrote the screenplay) and Hugh Miller off Amazon. It arrived quickly from the UK, and I’ve already finished it. It’s only 127 pages; I’m no speed reader. 🙂
It is a solid thriller, tightly written and *very* fast paced. Patrick Malahide’s character is David Sinclair. He describes himself as an investigative journalist. He is young (“youthfully mature”) with angular features. Basically as far appearance goes that is all we are told: youthful and angular. Hmmm…sounds about right. I don’t want to write a full recap, so I’ll mostly cover Sinclair.
David Sinclair: Angular Scottish Reporter
The protagonist is London property developer Ray Campion. He is in Glasgow looking for a man named John Balfour (no relation to Uncle Ebenezer) who is to inherit some property from his late Aunt Winnie. Campion is desperate to buy the property off him. However, a few others are interested in the whereabouts of Balfour, including the police, because he is wanted for murder. To make things worse, the man he is accused of murdering, Michael Bannerman, is the son of powerful Scottish “legitimate businessman” Gowrie Bannerman.
This is a thriller, so Campion regularly finds himself in sticky situations. At one point he is in a derelict and near abandoned street being chased by thugs. Fortunately, there is a mysterious stranger on a motorcycle who rescues him being fileted via flick knife. That stranger is David Sinclair.
David Sinclair tells Campion that John Balfour is dead. He used to be John’s flatmate and is very close to Balfour’s sister Jean, actually he is in love with her, but she is only “very fond” of him. Much to my annoyance Jean finds herself being drawn closer to Campion who, based on the cover, is blocky featured. Why would anyone prefer that over Mr. Youthfully Mature with his angles and motorcycle? Campion isn’t even a very nice person. Well, it is a fiction.
Anyway, Sinclair is at least a well-intentioned guy. Any mistakes he makes, and he makes a big one, are only made because he wants to protect those he loves: Jean and John. The question of whether John Balfour is dead or alive is a key one and is the reason Sinclair acts as he does.
As mentioned earlier, Sinclair loves Jean, even though it is mostly unrequited. When he learns that Campion and Jean spent a night together he is very hurt. At least he gets to punch Campion hard in the gut for that. I shouldn’t condone violence, but I felt Campion deserved it if only for prying so deeply into things that may have been best left secret.
In her post, RFodchuk wondered if the mourning brooch was a literal or figurative aspect of the story. Well, it is literal. There are photos of John and Jean Balfour as children in Aunt Winnie’s mourning brooch. The photo of young John is very important indeed.
After reading the book, I certainly want to see the series. David Sinclair is a sympathetic and loyal man and also very bold and just think of his lovely Scottish accent. The scene where he rescues Campion sounds exciting too. It reminds me of The One Game with the whole abandoned street aspect.
So, come on BBC-Scotland, release some of these earlier productions. The Mourning Brooch, The Standard, and I fully expect John Macnab deserve to be seen. And don’t get me started on ITV and Dear Enemy. 😉