Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Far Traveller: Review

The Far Traveller (1956) is a light and frothy tale by the creator of British spy Tommy Hambledon. Manning Coles gives us the Graf van Grauhegel and his servant Franz who, after being dead nearly a century and haunting the castle in the interval, rematerialize in order to right an old wrong so they may finally rest in peace. In the meantime, they also manage to star in a romantic musical movie based on the Graf's life and filmed at the Graf's castle on the Rhine as well as unmask a fraudulent medium.

When George Whatmore's star falls down the staircase at the Castel Grauhegel, the director is at his wits' end. Where is he going to find an actor who can take the role of a 19th Century German count at such short notice? What luck--two young men, the very image of a German aristocrat and his servant, arrive on the scene just in time. In fact "Herr Reisenfern" is a little too good--trying to tell Whatmore that "the Graf would never have done that" and "No, no, no--that's not the way it was." But things soon settle down and Whatmore is ecstatic with the way his new star improves on the dueling scene--why, one think he really was an expert swordsman from the 19th Century. 

It is also interesting how the castle staff treat Reisenfern with so much deference--the atmosphere of the play must be rubbing off on them. Or could it be they really do recognize the castle's ancestral master? Things get very interesting indeed when a suit of armor becomes animated (courtesy of the ghostly Franz), a ancient treasure is uncovered and then vanishes before the witnesses' eyes (golden coins secreted in the ghostly pockets of the Graf and his servant), and a family ring--long thought lost when the Graf lost his life. The Graf and Franz were drowned on the night the German noble was rumored to have married his lady love--and ever since the family has denied the woman her place in the family and even told tales to her discredit.

The Graf must convince his descendant--the current Graf--to restore his lady's honor and bring her remains to rest beside her husband. Only then will the Graf be able to quit his ghostly ramblings along the castle corridors and join his wife in the great beyond. Speaking of the great beyond--the Graf who knows "the other side" well also takes the time to reveal a spiritualist for the fake he is. Two village boys, set on pranking the local constable by coating his goat in luminous paint, unknowingly help the Graf give the fraudulent medium the scare of his life.

This is a delightful ghostly romp--light on mystery, but full of fun and frolic. Coles gives the reader likeable characters who partake in crazy antics which may be unrealistic, but are dazzling funny. Franz chasing housemaids while clanking about in armor; the Graf's display of swordsmanship; their ghostly escape from jail; the befuddlement of black marketeers and the unmasking of charlatans--this could easily have been made into a comedic action movie with Cary Grant in the part of the Graf. ★★★★

[Finished on 9/2/17]
This fulfills the "Suit of Armor" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

Heather G. said...

This one sounds fun! I love a good mystery book.