Wednesday 31 July 2013

Nostalgic for my childhood - Roger Moore and the Crimefighters

Reading has played an important part in my life for as long as I can remember and I want to use this ‘thread’ to discuss books that, in their own way, shaped not only my future reading habits but also my future writing habits.  

I first discovered The Three Investigators series in 1977 and was an instant fan - three boys, with a headquarters in a fantastic junkyard, solving spooky mysteries, what’s not to love?  I read as many books as I could get hold of (thankfully the series was still being written and published then, so the editions were readily available in the library and at school) but was always on the look out for more.

By 1978, thanks to The Spy Who Loved Me, I was also a big fan of Roger Moore so when I stumbled on a series of books - called “Roger Moore and the Crimefighters” - that seemed to combine two things I really liked, I was in.

Roger Moore and the Crimefighters was a series of six slim paperbacks, published by Alpine/Everest in the UK through 1977.  A clear attempt to try and cash in on The Three Investigator market, Roger Moore is the Alfred Hitchcock equivalent here, his name a prominent part of the cover whilst he has only has a cameo (as himself) at the end, when the Crimefighters explain their latest adventure to him.

The Crimefighters - “three young friends of Roger Moore who can’t keep out of trouble” - are Billy Compton (“rich and clever and wishes people would remember to call him Will”), Bonnie Fletcher ("a blonde girl in jeans, who plays football and hates dolls”) and Darren Fletcher (“Bonnie’s little brother, with hair like a pop star and an ugly dog”).  The dog was called Dalek and helped out in much the same way as Timmy assisted the Famous Five.

The six books were:

The Siege by Malcolm Hulke
One Thousand And One Shoplifters by Robin Smyth
Crook Ahoy! by Fielden Hughes
Death in Denims by Dulcie Gray
The Secrets Man by Deben Holt
The Anchor Trick by Anthony Wall

Malcolm Hulke (who died in 1979) was a well known TV writer who in 1975, along with others, won a Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for the “Doctor Who” teleplays.  He also wrote for “The Avengers”, “The Protectors”, “Danger Man” and “Crossroads” on television and several of the Target series of “Doctor Who” books.

Fielden Hughes was a contributor to the The Pan Book of Horror Stories, with his story “The Mistake”, appearing in volume 1.

Dulcie Gray CBE (who died in 2011) was a noted actress, singer, mystery writer and lepidopterist.

Anthony Wall was a noted - and award winning - childrens writer.

Roger Moore’s main involvement appears to have been the photograph on the cover, though all of his royalties from the series were donated to the Stars Organisation for Spastics and to the Police Widows and Orphans Fund (I know, he’s such a nice man, isn’t he?).

At the back of each book was a coupon for readers to send off to join the Crimefighters club.  I never did and so missed out on my chance of a free membership card, a fanzine and the chance to meet Roger Moore (I wonder if anyone ever did meet him?).

I have a recollection of reading most of the books and even though I did like the fact that they were British kids, I was never greatly impressed with the series and quickly switched my full attention back to The Three Investigators.

However - and this is why I’ve chosen to highlight the series - the main villain in “One Thousand And One Shoplifters” was Mr Orchid, who kept poisonous snakes in a glass case in his office.  That image really connected with me and I used something similar in a story I wrote at the time for a school project, which featured a spy called Peter Raft.

Like a lot of things, my collection was lost over the years though I did manage to pick up “The Siege” a couple of years back on ebay.  I haven't re-read it yet, I wonder if I ever will…

with thanks to Permission To Kill

1 comment:

  1. Great posting! Many thanks for the scans and back-story! Many of these Roger Moore and the Crimefighters paperbacks are available on if you're still trying to rebuild your collection! I managed to find all six that way.