‘The Scarifyers’, written by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris for Bafflegab Productions, is an audio mystery thriller series with a supernatural bent, starring Terry Molloy as the ever-willing but slightly timid author Edward Dunning and David Warner as his considerably more rambunctious (not to mention foul mouthed) MI-13 colleague, Harry Crow. Picture a sort of pre-WWII ‘X-Files’ meets ‘The Odd Couple’ and you won’t be far off the mark.
‘The King of Winter’ is the ninth entry in the series, and is perhaps the best one yet.
Set, as ever, in the late 1930s, this new adventure sees Dunning and Crow investigating the deaths of a porter and a Lord (more the latter than the former, if truth be told), each implausibly frozen to death. Almost immediately they find themselves embroiled in a fiendish Freemason plot in which they both come close to death on more than one occasion, face unholy terrors, battle devilish enemies, encounter other-worldly horrors and, in the end, take part in history’s most bizarre Shakespeare play!
Unlike many other original audio drama series, ‘The Scarifyers’ neither burdens itself with excessive continuity (allowing each instalment to be enjoyed as a stand-alone tale, as well as one of a series), nor flags as an insufficiency of plot attempts to fill an excess of running time. Instead, this production is always sharp as a blade, with a combination of frequent thrills and occasional well-judged humour moving the story along at a cracking pace and more than adequately covering the two cd running time.
Add to that, the acting is of a quality which only comes after years of experience in voice acting. In that respect, Warner and Molloy are as superb as expected, but all of the cast are first-rate, with particular mention to be made of Steven Critchlow as the useless Prince George and regular cast member David Benson as Alexander Caulfield-Browne. Everyone is on top form though, and the splendid acting is thankfully married to the type of clean, uncluttered sound design which other audio companies could do with copying! For once, there was no point at which I was forced to rewind in order to make sense of some speech rendered inaudible by an intrusive musical sting or noisy sound effect.
All in all, ‘The King of Winter’ is exactly as good as ‘Scarifyers‘ fans have come to expect. I can confidently say that those waiting since 2012 for a continuation to the series will not be disappointed – but hopefully it won’t be the best part of two years until the next one arrives!