A note to our readers: As the world is currently dealing with the shock of the Corona Virus, many of us have been locked in our homes; our cars sit in driveways unmoved for days. I am no different. Not only am I missing seeing my team and my friends at work; not even getting to see all of them on our meetings, I’ve also lost out on time to listen to these stories. As a result, my listening is still happening but at a much slower pace. So Jago and Litefoot: Series One will be reviewed over 4 weeks, each covering one story in the set. I hope this lockdown does let up soon, but until then, we will go through these a bit more methodically. With that… on with the show.
If there’s one creature of myth that I have always loved, it’s the werewolf. What better creature to come along for the first in a new series? Granted, no one ever actually says it’s a werewolf, but no other creature jumps to mind that the scratch or bite can change a man into a snarling, raging beast quite so readily as a werewolf. Plus, look at the cover of the story! If that’s not a werewolf, I’m a monkey’s uncle! (And don’t try to tell me that’s a monkey, or I’ll be a werewolf’s uncle!)
The story follows a small group of soldiers who have returned to England bringing their captain with them, but he isn’t the man he was. They seek the help of a mysterious Dutch doctor. Dr. Talp was the strange villain we first encountered in The Mahogany Murderers. Our protagonists don’t know this yet, of course; that will take more of the 4-story set. Talp recommends feeding the creature raw meat, which rather than curing the fellow, makes his condition far worse. Police sergeant Quick contacts Professor Litefoot for help and our dashing dynamic duo get involved in a diabolical disaster. (Impossible to listen to Jago and not try it for yourself…)
It’s a short story and throws us right in without preamble. We know these two characters and we even know the barmaid, Ellie, one again played magnificently by Benny Summerfield herself, Lisa Bowerman. What we don’t expect is to meet Ellie’s brother, Jim. Alas, things are going to get messy for Jim with our not-so-friendly neighborhood werewolf. One again, we are in for an hour of fun and excitement. Jago is a rich source of humor and Litefoot is “the straight man”. (There’s something to be said for this style of pairing; it works very well in many a series and hearing these two play off one another is legendary!) Jago has mastered the art of alliteration and listening to him is half the fun of the play.
There is also a sense of Sherlock Holmes about the whole thing. It’s the combination of the late 1800’s, the army from Afghanistan, the fact that Litefoot is a man of logical deductions and Jago is a man of somewhat comedic ineptitude. (The reality is that, like Watson, Jago is a man of skill in his own field; but solving monstrous murders isn’t his chosen profession!)
I hate getting too close to spoilers, as I’d rather you give this a listen on your own, but I needed to compliment the writing and the acting. I will say that there’s a marvelous, if heartbreaking, resolution to the story. Litefoot is a pathologist and a bit more posh than Jago, and when confronted with a horrible action, he can’t go through with it. He simply isn’t strong enough to go through with it. Jago steps in to help his friend, but it breaks his heart. He becomes the source of courage even though he breaks down crying afterward. And the impact it has on their friend, Ellie, just makes it that much more devastating. It’s an impressive denouement but it’s played to absolute perfection by these two magnificent actors. It’s no wonder these two had a series of their own.
As the episode concludes, Quick tells Litefoot to be careful. Litefoot’s reply was perfect: “Oh, I’ll be alright. I have my friend to look after me.” I found this a beautiful sentiment to end the episode. It struck me as even more profound because the night I listened to this, I was on my own; my wife was traveling and my kids were away. But an unexpected invitation from my two teammates and friends had me over their home for a delightful dinner and movie. As I drove home, having had a marvelous meal and enjoyed the company of good friends, I finished the story and heard that line and smiled the smile of those who realize that sometimes life and art do live in delightful parallel. I was indeed alright, I had my friends to look after me.
I think this will be a wonderful series to share! ML