The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes was a 1971-1973 television series which dramatized contemporary non-Holmes detective stories from the Victorian and Edwardian Eras in England. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of the first episode click HERE
Episode: THE RIPENING RUBIES (December 2nd, 1971)
Detective: Bernard Sutton, Jeweler to the Royal Court, created by Max Pemberton. The first Bernard Sutton story was published in 1894.
Review: Max Pemberton’s series of 10 Bernard Sutton mysteries make for a nice break from non-stop murder investigations. This dapper, distinguished “Court Jeweler who solves mysteries” always finds himself getting to the bottom of spectacular jewel heists. People are sometimes killed off during his investigation, but those killings are always incidental to Sutton’s solving of seemingly impossible robberies.
Bernard (Robert Lang) is capably assisted by Abel, the young clerk at his high-end jewelry shoppe. Abel is a reformed criminal whose old underworld contacts prove valuable in Sutton’s investigations.
In The Ripening Rubies the sleuthing jeweler easily nails a crook trying to sell a ruby necklace stolen from Lady Faber (Lally Bowers). After restoring the priceless item to the good Lady, Bernard winds up recruited by her to be her “watchdog” at a party she’s throwing that evening.
It turns out a brassy jewel thief has been pulling off high-profile robberies at the parties of aristocratic Londoners of late. Lady Faber’s husband, Lord Faber (Richard Hurndall), happens to own the insurance company that has had to pay out for most of the precious stones that have been made off with.
Lady Faber is the most stylish London hostess of the moment and hopes that the shrewd Sutton’s presence at her party will keep her and her guests safe from falling victim to whoever is behind the rash of thefts. Naturally that turns out not to be the case and it’s up to our hero and his sidekick Abel to solve the crime and bring the larcenous spree to an end.
A large part of this episode’s charm is the way most of the story plays out during Lady Faber’s party, which is loaded with guests (suspects) sporting lofty titles, aristocratic pomposity and all the British teeth you can handle. It’s a similar thrill to participating in a Murder Party because if you keep track of which guests are doing what and talking or flirting with whom and when you can solve the mystery yourself along with Bernard Sutton.
Our hero has to get to the bottom of what’s going on despite being hindered by his policeman rival Inspector Illingworth, who comes to suspect Sutton and Abel of being behind the string of thefts.
For me the best part was the insight to the illicit jewel market of the 1890s that Bernard’s expertise lays bare for us viewers. The whole network of stolen jewels going out through Limehouse to Rotterdam and cash from Rotterdam back to Limehouse is the kind of criminal backdrop I love to get immersed in.
On top of that plus all the intricate period detail that The Ripening Rubies throws at us, an element crucial to unravelling the mystery is the fact that Lord and Lady Faber are among the few who own a telephone at that particular time.
It all adds up to a very enjoyable mystery that gives us a break from the tedium of nothing but murder, murder, murder.
I’ll review the next episode soon. Keep checking back.
FOR MORE FORGOTTEN TELEVISION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/forgotten-television/