Andrew Saville - Bergerac: Crimes Of The Season (Panther, 1985: Severn House, 1985 as Bergerac Is Back)
Front cover photograph shows John Nettles as Jim Bergerac from the BBC Television series, BERGERAC. Produced by Jonathan Alwyn, script editor Chris Boucher. Photo by Robert Hill c. BBC Enterprises Ltd 1985
Blurb: THINGS HOT UP ON JERSEY ...
Sergeant Jim Bergerac knows all about the kind of money to be found in beautiful Jersey - his former father-in-law is, after all, one of the richest men in the Channel Islands - and he knows that where there's money, there's often trouble. This year is set to be no exception, with blackmail, murder and forgery all looming darkly on the holiday horizon.
"Bergerac watched him go, his face thoughtful. This was all they needed - a case of the Hammer Horrors."
Before his lengthy stint playing DCI Barnaby in Midsomer Murders, John Nettles was Jim Bergerac, a feather-ruffling detective sergeant, dispensing justice to Jersey's wrong 'uns. Divorced and battling the bottle, Jim's methods rarely sat well with his superiors, notably Chief Inspector Barney Crozier and Charlie Hungerford, Parliamentary candidate and chairman of the Law And Order Committee. The series ran for ten years. Crimes Of The Season (AKA Bergerac Is Back) comprises adaptations of three Brian Finch Bergerac scripts by 'Andrew Eh, Brian, It's A Whopper Saville' (Andrew Taylor).
Opening story The Last Interview sees comely femme fatale Arlene Rosconne leading Bergerac a merry dance as she connives to discover the whereabouts of Tony Abellini, a former Mafia boss turned super-grass. There's a nasty sub-plot involving a journalist in fear of his life and explicit footage of a public execution conducted by a sadistic African Dictator which the Mob gleefully project on-screen during a performance by a popular chanteuse at Diamante Lil's swish new nightclub ("Will you give a big welcome to the local girl with the silver voice who made us all so proud in the Eurovision Song Contest. Ladies and gentlemen - Harriet Lejeune!"). A fine crime story for sure, but it's the next sequence, What Dreams May Come? (p.72-127) holds genuine Vault appeal.
'Jerry Bruce', nuisance photographer, is knocked down on a lonely road while fleeing "them." Badly injured, he struggles like a tiger to prevent medical staff injecting him with a sedative, but to no avail. "You have damned me," he grimaces before succumbing to sleep. 'Jerry' dies screaming that same night, his face contorted in agony and - fear!
Bergerac receives an anonymous phone call. A woman's voice, heavily accented. "They killed Jerry Bruce." Searching the dead man's room he notes several books on black sorcery and a framed photograph of the young woman he'd recently broken up with, Miss Helene Duval, glamorous proprietress of St. Helier's leading occult bookshop. On paying a visit, he realises it was she who made the call. Miss Duval makes a pitiful job of denying it. Who - or what - is she frightened of?
The answer is Mr. Bart Bellow, best-selling author (Abaddon, Demonkind, etc.) and Satanist; "Jersey's answer to Dennis Wheatley, I'm told. One of our more distinguished tax-exiles" smirks Jim, who has no time for either God or Devil.
George Barton puts in a complaint about Bellow, who, he claims is conducting animal experiments. Why else would he stockpile goats, cockerels, cats and lambs? George has heard their screams of distress,. Written off as a crank who sees a vivisectionist under every bed, he takes the law into his own hands and releases Bellows' menagerie into the wild. He and his faithful wolfhound are cremated in a mysterious inferno shortly afterwards.
Bergerac learns that the late 'Jerry Bruce' was none other than 'Fearless' Frank Green, a Fleet Street hack celebrated for his lurid exposés in the Sunday tabloids. Could it be that Bellow had him eliminated on learning of his profession? Jim gatecrashes a Bellows satanic soiree with the sole intention of goading him onto the offensive. The Demonologist takes the bait but, rather than risk murdering a policeman, he instead targets Helene as the "stupid bitch" whose guilty conscience threatens to bring down his evil empire. Miss Duval must pay - 'They' demand it! - and Bart Bellow has something very nasty lined up for her!
Bart's latest #1 Best-seller. Window display courtesy of Miss Helene Duval
Jim Bergerac bones up on mumbo jumbo and debauchery
The filth and the fury. A typical 'Fearless' Frank Green exposé!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.