Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review of Bulldog Drummond by Sapper (1920, Hodder)

Captain Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond is finding it difficult to adjust to civilian life after the First World War.  Seeking adventure he places an advertisement in a newspaper offering to tackle tasks that would provide excitement.  Among the many responses he receives is one from a young woman who suspects that her father is being blackmailed by a dangerous criminal.  Drummond quickly determines that the woman might be right, but the case is far more complicated involving an international conspiracy.  He also decides that the woman is right for him.  While conducting a world-wind romance, Drummond takes on a motley gang of criminals intent on wrecking Britain politically and economically, masterminded by the enigmatic and ruthless Carl Peterson.

Published in 1920, Bulldog Drummond was the first book in a series of ten books featuring the adventures of Captain Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond and his on-going semi-gentlemanly tussle with criminal mastermind Carl Peterson.  It’s ‘boys adventure’ fare, with Bulldog acting as the chivalrous white knight saving and falling in love with a young woman, rescuing a tortured American millionaire, while tackling a ruthless criminal and his gang.  It is very much a story of its time in two ways.  First, in terms of its telling, with very stilted dialogue and staged scenes.  Second, it is full of the social protocols and class relations of the age.  The story is kind of ridiculous, especially the duelling relationship between Bulldog and Peterson, who rather than simply killing one another when one gets the chance sets a trial and the chance of escape.  It all got a tedious pretty quickly despite the endless japes.  Except for being stuck on a plane with no other book it’s unlikely I’d have completed it otherwise.

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