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Radio / The Adventures of Harry Nile

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A radio drama series that operates as a more modern take on the 40s/50s Private Detective, first created in 1976 by Jim French and primarily aired in Seattle.

The series features the eponymous Harry Nile (played by Phil Harper and Larry Albert), a former internal affairs police officer turned private investigator who operates in Los Angeles and, later, Seattle, in a time frame that goes from shortly after WWII to the 1950s. While beginning the show with a partner, he's since gone solo—that is, alongside his loyal and strong-willed secretary, Murphy (played by Pat French). He frequently finds himself in debt—though his gambling days are behind him, he doesn't attract much work and his good-natured heart often leaves him doing jobs for free or on pocket change.

In 1996 the series was syndicated nationally, and has since become international. Each episode is about 20 minutes long, with breaks for radio advertisements. Despite a twelve year hiatus from 1978 to 1990, and the death of Jim French in 2017, new episodes continue to be made under the auspices of voice actors Larry Albert and John Patrick Lowrie, who took over management of Imagination Theater and its assets with Jim French's blessing before his passing. Series episodes can be purchased for download at the Harry Nile website.

This series features examples of:

  • Attempted Suicide: Harry puts a stop to a woman drowning herself in the beginning of "The Case of the Dead Ringer", though he insists he could tell she didn't actually want to die. He's later proven right when he figures out she was only in the water because she was drowning the victim.
  • Berserk Button: Harry really doesn't like Domestic Abuse. He physically threatens an abuser in "The Fine Art of Murder."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Harry gets into this on occasion, most notably when dealing with rude clients or uncooperative police officers.
  • Detective Patsy: On occasion, as Harry doesn't outwardly appear that competent. In "This Corpus Ain't Habeas Anymore", a sorority girl hires Harry to find out why a schoolmate that she threatened's body is in her trunk. Turns out she thought that she'd killed her, stuffed her in the trunk, then hired Harry to try and establish a cover story for herself.
  • Hard Boiled Detective: Harry is a deliberate aversion of this. Despite living a life that would make such a man bitterly cynical (sees corruption and incompetence in the police force, a dead wife, terrible gambling debts and being targeted by the mob on a few occasions), he remains a steadfast champion of justice, rarely uses force to get his way, and genuinely cares about many of his clients.
  • Implied Death Threat: In the first episode, where Harry was told by a mob boss to whom he was up to his eyeballs in debt to go kill a man on the West coast. An associate he sent over to make sure Harry did it tells him, "I'm your doctor. I'm telling you to go west for your health."
  • Inspector Lestrade: There are several policemen Harry occasionally works with that qualify, such as Lou Butterfield who in one episode arrested him for a crime that Harry himself reported without even bothering to check if the victim was dead.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Harry, on occasion. He's seen too much corruption and organized crime not to get a bit world weary. But he still believes in doing the right thing and protecting the innocent.
  • Perfect Poison: One episode has a pretty amusing aversion—once the culprit poisons Harry Nile with rat poison, he comments that he's feeling funny and sighs, while talking to the culprit, as he points out they've just poisoned him. Then he goes to get his stomach pumped.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Murphy.
  • Police Are Useless: Varies—sometimes Harry has to investigate because the police are corrupt, sometimes it's because they won't listen to reason, sometimes there isn't enough evidence to get the police involved, and sometimes they're perfectly reasonable and good at their jobs but really dislike having a private eye poking his nose in criminal investigations.
  • Private Detective: Harry is this, having quit from the Chicago police force after discovering corruption in one of the precincts.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Harry frequently narrates his cases, though as a pointedly non-cliched version of a private eye his are a little bit brighter than is typical for this trope.
  • Sassy Secretary: Murphy.
  • Shed the Family Name: A variant—Harry changed his name from Niletti to Nile so that it would be harder to associate him with his family once he got on the police force, to avoid mob retaliation directed at them.
  • Sickbed Slaying: In The Judge From Whiskey Dick Harry is almost killed with a shotgun blast, and then when he's in the hospital the murderer slips in and tries to overdose him on horse tranquilizers.
  • The Gambling Addict: Harry, in his backstory—after losing his wife and leaving the police force he started gambling to try and ease the pain. This leads to him being Trapped by Gambling Debts.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: In the first episode, Harry owes a gambling debt to a mob boss and is sent to kill a guy to pay it back.
  • World War II: The subject of the 2017 collection, Harry Nile Goes To War, with Nile dealing with home front issues in the first few months of the war.