Jim Starling Series: Plot Summaries

Figure 1.--This is the cover of one of the first Jim Starling books. Here we see Jim and his mates in the background. Notice the industry which dominates the neighborhood where the boys live. The illustrator here was R. Payne.

The first "Jim Starling" book was published in 1958 in England, known just as Jim Starling. We know of the following books in the series: Jim Starling (1958), Jim Starling and the Agency (1958), Jim Starling and the Colonel (1960), Jim Starling's Holiday (1960), Jim Starling Takes Over (1963), Jim Starling and the Spotted Dog (1963), Jim Starling Goes to Town (1963), and Jim Starling Goes to town (1963). A HBC reader tells us that this is the complee series. He wonders if anyone has any further information about the books. Here is the plot summaries for the various volumes."

Jim Starling (1958)

The plot summary reads, "Jim Starling's great ambition is to bowl a good length, and in the playground of the Cement Street Secondary Modern School he practices by aiming at a sixpence in front of the stumps. Quite suddenly, with three classmates, on of whom fancies himself as a "privat eye", he becomes involved in a fast-moving series of events far removed from cricket. It all starts when someone slashes coats in the school cloackroom, but soon Jim and his Last Apple Gang (1) have to pit their wits, recourcefulness and courage against a lead-stealing gang. With the help of the local police they bring the thieves to justice after a thrilling moonlight climax among the walls and chimneys of ancient Godwell Hall." (1) A reader tells us about the Last Apple Gang. In "Jim Starling" there comes injustice to Jim and Terry, for they are falsly accused of slashing raincoats and pinching lead. The only way to prove their innocence is to unmask the real criminal. Therefor they founded "the Last Apple Gang". Jim Starling, page 106: "Sorry son", said Terry. "Have a bite of this". He pulled out the second apple, and Goggles took a quick snap at it. "Hold it!", said Jim leaning forward and having a bite himself. "Now you, Nip". Nip curled his nose. Next to getting his hair ruffled, he hated eating after anyone else. "No thanks!" "Sorry", said Jim. "But this is the swearing-in ceremony. The swearing-in of the Last Apple Gang". "Yes", said Goggles, his eyes lighting up. "The Last Apple Gang". Even Terry raised his eyebrows with approval and said the words slowly, as if well pleased with the title. "The Last Apple Gang". "And we're sworn to prove your innocence", said Jim. "And yours", said Terry. "Gimme that apple!" said Nip. And without even turning it round to the untouched side, he took a dood deep bite. Then the newly formed gang went into the alcove for their first big conference. THE END.

Jim Starling and the Agency (1958)

The plot summary reads, "Encouraged by their succes against a criminal mob (see Jim Starling), Jim and his friends decided to start a (detective agency. Crime seems to be slack in Smogbury, their home town, so they go out to look for it. For some time they believe they are on the track of a forger, but then finde themselves blackmailed by an unspeakable female called Mavis Bogden. Suspected cases of doping-peddling and murder come to the notice of the Last Apple Agency; and if the young detectives get led up the garden path, there is at least a splendid summer-house in the garden, where they are allowed to set up their headquarters. This story, the second in the Jim Starling series, is a diverting sequence of adventures and misunderstandings, which give Jim, Terry, Nip and Goggles full scope for their iniative, their perky humor, and their delightful couldn't-care-more attitude to life."

Jim Starling's Holiday (1960)

The plot summary reads, "Tough, lively, michievous, resourceful... Readers of the first two Starling books will know what sort of behaviour to expect from Jim Starling and his pals. So will the hundreds of thousands of new friends the Last Apple Gang have made with their appearance in EAGLE and the B.B.C. Children's Hour Serial. In Jim Starling's holiday, the boys' resourcefulness is given its severest test yet when they find themselves standded in a tumbledown cottage, miles from the familiar shops and milk-bars of their native Smogbury. Without food or furniture, worried by the disappearance of their host, troubled by mysterious raiders and perturbed by the ghost of a certain Crazy Caleb, they are more than once tempted to go back home. But as Jim stubbornly says: "We came for a week and we're staying for a week!" - And they do! With results which make this the most entertaining and thrilling of E.W. Hildick's books so far." A reader tells us, "In "Jim Starling's holiday" the boys have a shop receipt - just printed out - dated: July 30th 1958. So "Jim Starling" is describing May 1958 (the month is mentioned in the story), "Jim Starling and the agency" is playing in June 1958 (also mentioned). In the other books there are no clues about month or the year.

Jim Starling and the Colonel (1960)

The plot summary reads, "'The youth of today is soft, pampered', declares Colonel Splitt-Statham, and he quotes the feats done by thirteen-year-old Jethro Briggs over seventy years ago to show how much tougher boys were then. Jim Starling decides to prove that modern boys are just as capalbe by emulating those feats. Could YOU run four miles in fifteen minutes? Eat twenty meat pies at a sitting? Juggle briskly with three eggs? Climb a 250 foot clock tower and place your cap on the lightning-rod? Some sound impossible, some too easy -but seventy years is a long time and changed conditions can make a big difference, as the boys soon find out. In fact, there are times when it looks as if Jim has taken on more than he can manage."

Jim Starling Takes Over (1960)

The plot summary reads, "Think Decimal! When the boys of 3B are given 20p each and asked to increase this by as much as possible within four weeks, a new breed of decimal businessman appears on the streets of Smogbury. Jim Starling & Co. find themselves in rivalry with Butcher Baker's gang. The ammunition in their battles is limited to a boy's brain for business and an up-to-date understanding of úp. E.W. Hildick writes amusingly - and instructively - of the fun to be had with the new currency."

Jim Starling and the Spotted Dog(1963)

The plot summary reads, "Ever heard of the Last Apple Gang? When an old pensioner loses his spotted dog, it's the Last Apple Gang who rush in and undertake to find it. The unusual adventurers include ready-for-anything Jim, detective Terry, animal-lover Goggles, and budding Civil Servant, knowledgeable Nip. No lost dog has a chance against such a go-ahead gang. E.W. Hildick is famous for a brand of juvenile fiction he has made all his own - the story that teaches you important, day-to-day things like the value of pocket money or the way your local Town Hall works, while still being thrilling and fun to read."

Jim Starling Goes to Town (1963)

The plot summary reads, "There is no summary printed on the book, so I try myself: Jim, Terry, Nip and Goggles are in London. They are going to visit the cup final at Wembley Stadion for the Smogbury football team had reached the final cup. (funny describtion in the book: "Smogbury had never reached THAT and never would - never in a hundred years..."). During their visit in London they stay at a flat of an uncle of Goggles. The four boys are wearing a sort of badges on their coates in the colours of "their" Smogbury football-team. On their way to the stadion they meet a man who is asking them if they are sure they have good places. The boys are not really sure about that. The man asks if he can see the tickets. When they show it, the man declares: "Couldn't be worse, mates! You'll be lucky if you see the ball!". But the man has a solution. He has better tickets for sale - all right they do cost a little bit more - but if the boys are willing to excange the tickts with some extra money they can be sure of having good places. The boys agree with this. However, when they arrive at Wembley Stadion, they notice that they have trouble for the tickets appeared to be forgeries. After this the Last Apple Gang is determinated to meet the man again."


Beringen, John. E-mail message, April 16, 2005.


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Created: 4:23 AM 4/17/2005
Last updated: 4:24 AM 4/17/2005