, October 2010
Bulldog Drummond was published in 1920 and was a great hit. It was adapted for the stage and filmed starring such luminaries as Ronald Colman and John Barrymore. Drummond also appeared on the radio and TV as well as in ten novels. Captain Hugh Drummond, DSO, MC is fearless, cool under pressure, humorous, a former boxer, big and strong, suave, a sportsman, a gentleman, and intelligent. He kills, but only when necessary.
After he comes home from World War I, Drummond is bored. He craves excitement, so he places an ad offering his services for an adventure, even a criminal one. He receives hundreds of replies, which are sorted out by his ex-bat man James Denny. One letter stands out. It is a plea for help from a damsel in distress, one Phyllis Benton, whose father has fallen into the clutches of the two most dangerous men in England. Henry Lakington, a ruthless killer and torturer, is the second most dangerous man. A fellow calling himself Carl Peterson (who is the villain in the first four novels in the series) is the most dangerous man and has a “daughter” (we’re never quite sure who she is) named Irma. Peterson’s plot is to get money from various millionaires and engineer a Bolshevik revolution in England. He lines up three rich dupes but they will not come into the scheme without an American shipping magnate, Hiram C. Potts. When Peterson pitches the idea, Potts calls him a scoundrel and refuses to cooperate.
Peterson drugs Potts and takes him to a country house next to the Bentons. There, Lakington applies torture in order to get Potts’ signature on a damning document. At this point Drummond snatches the American and whisks him to supposed safety in London. Thus begins the struggle between good and evil, with the fate of an entire nation at stake. Drummond is aided by ex-army buddies, fellow sports club members, and an American cop. He also falls in love with Phyllis Benton. The novel is a nonstop thriller with witty dialogue, romance, deadly wild beasts, and the occasional murder. The action is narrated by Roy McMillan, a director, actor, writer, and abridger. He uses his considerable talents individualizing characters with accents (various British, French, German, American) as well as female characters. Peterson is usually suave, Lakington is usually snarling, Benton is usually drunk. Bulldog Drummond is highly recommended.