The 'Blurbs' from the Air Detective Omnibus

About the forum, Captain W.E. Johns and Biggles. Including samples of WEJ writing

The 'Blurbs' from the Air Detective Omnibus

Postby Sizzling Sausages » 30 Aug 2013, 02:51

Here are the separate blurbs introducing each of the books in The Biggles Air Detective Omnibus. They don't actually have any title like 'Introduction' or 'Foreword'. Probably the most interesting bit is the excerpt from the Biggles Works It Out intro I already posted in the von Stalhein thread.

Sergeant Bigglesworth, C.I.D.
This story tells of the initiation of Biggles and his war-time comrades into the Special Air Police. In it also, in what may be called his first assignment, is revealed the sort of crime with which the Air Police were likely to be confronted and the type of men to whom they would be opposed. No small-time housebreakers or smash-and-grabbers, these, but men of technical ability and organised efficiency who were not concerned with chicken feed but played for the big money. In a word, a new type of criminal produced by modern conditions, able to exploit modern methods to cash in on information acquired during the war. Men, too, with a grudge to work off.
It is unlikely that at this juncture Biggles realised fully what he had let himself in for. Indeed, as he himself averred, he was shaken by the magnitude of the schemes and the imagination shown in putting them into practice. That war-fostered hatreds should come into the picture was only to be expected.
He quickly perceived how futile it would have been for an ordinary policeman or detective – meaning one without a knowledge of technical aviation – to even attempt to cope with the situation. Indeed, as will be seen, it was only on account of his wide flying experience, coupled with a natural resourcefulness that had been sharpened by that most deadly of all human employments, air combat, that he was able to get on terms with his men.
This was his first job as a probationary police officer, and the fact that he found the going hard and dangerous may have made it more to his liking than the routine civil pilotage to which he had expected to return. For him, he found, the war was still on, and another, to become known as the Cold War, was on the way. But he did not know that at the time.

Biggles’ Second Case
As the title states, this was the second case Biggles was called upon to tackle in his capacity as a flying police officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard. It had the effect of opening up a field of crime on the grand scale such as few could have foreseen – a field which, as time went on, was to develop instead of fading out.
The Axis powers had lost the war, but there were still embittered warriors who were not prepared to lay down their arms. Their policy seemed to be, if they could not win the war they could at least hurt the victors; and if at the same time they could make money so much the better. The means being at hand, and taking all the circumstances into consideration, there was really nothing remarkable about this. History reveals that such events are a common aftermath of war, regardless of nationality. Hereward the Wake and Robin Hood were, in their own way, cases in point.
Here we have a U-boat with a contumacious commander slipping through the Naval cordon during the immediate post-war confusion. During both world wars astute U-boat captains had demonstrated what mischief one such craft could do. Now, the war over, Hauptmann von Schonbeck, with his U-517, showed what he could do.
So the war went on, now fought as a duel, submarine versus aeroplane; and as might have been expected from such ubiquitous forms of transport the conflict took the combatants into strange waters.

Another Job for Biggles
Biggles had learned quite a lot about crooks and their methods when he found himself up against Nicolo Ambrimos. Always on the move, he had also learned a lot about the surface of the globe from his own particular viewpoint, which was high above it.
Ambrimos was not the first man to see an easy fortune in narcotics, commonly called dope. These drugs are cheap to produce and there are always addicts ready to pay any price for them. They have been used from the earliest times and nearly every country in the world has its own particular brand. In the Far East it is opium; in the Middle East it is hemp under one of its several names; in South America it is the cocaine producing coca leaf; in Siberia it is a form of fungus and in the Himalayas a thorn berry.
But nowhere in the world did dope secure such a hold as in Egypt, where, until rigorous steps were taken to crush the traffic, hashish threatened to destroy the population. The profits were such that the operators could pay enormous bribes to government officials to turn a blind eye to their activities.
During the gangster wars in the United States a new menace appeared in the form of a Mexican weed called Marijuana. Under its baneful influence murders were committed, for it was said to banish all fear of consequences. But even this abominable threat to civilisation became secondary when a more insidious drug, called gurra, suddenly appeared in London. Where was it coming from?
Biggles was set the hazardous task of finding out. How he succeeded is narrated in the following pages.

Biggles Works It Out
As a means of transportation the aeroplane can travel far and fast, and when it suits its purpose it knows no frontiers.
Shrewd observation revealed that at least one aircraft that had no business to be in the sky at all was going where it liked, when it liked, in the course of its operations jumping from continent to continent. Wherefore in his efforts to locate it Biggles’ aircrews had to kick the air behind them over Australia, Africa and Europe. For even aeroplanes can be followed by men who know the signs. As Biggles averred, to keep going they need fuel; and a regular supply of fuel demands a base.
In this adventure the practical use of the International Police Commission reveals itself in the person of Marcel Brissac, the French Air Representative under Captain Joudrier of the Paris Sûreté, who, by virtue of his office, was able to skip formalities when the trail led to French North Africa and metropolitan France.
Into this story, too, comes another ex-enemy die-hard, one Erich von Stalhein, a cold-eyed ruthless Prussian with whom Biggles had already been in collision, as was almost inevitable, for the German had been, in a manner of speaking, Biggles’ opposite number on the other side of the fence. Coming from an old military family, during the war he had left the Wilhelmstrasse to become one of Hitler’s most efficient Intelligence agents. Now, out of an official job, he was still a man to be reckoned with, for in his heart the fires of war still smouldered – much, it may be said, to Biggles’ regret – for in spite of his undying hatred of all things British there was something in the man’s unbending defiance and self-discipline to be admired.
Thus did an international stage, with players of many parts, set a problem for Biggles to work out.
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