Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A Knife For Harry Dodd by George Bellairs

A Knife For Harry Dodd (The Inspector Littlejohn Mysteries Book 20) by George Bellairs
First published in the UK in 1953. Republished by Agora Books on June 13th 2019.

A Classics Club read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a Crime Classics Review Club review copy via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, the women hadn’t believed Dodd was dead. They had put him in his pyjamas, fixed up his wound with plaster and lint, and put him to bed. Then, they’d realised he had died quietly whilst in their hands.

When Harry Dodd calls Dorothy Nicholls for a ride home from the pub, she and her mother think he’s just had too much to drink. Little do they know that he’s dying of a stab wound to the back. By the time they get him home, he’s dead.

Who would want to kill Harry Dodd? When Inspector Littlejohn is called in to investigate this murder, he uncovers the dark side of the power-hungry Dodd family. Perhaps Dodd’s life was not as simple as it seemed…

Bogged down with jealousy, greed, and spurned lovers, Littlejohn has more suspects than he can handle. And as the body count rises, it seems there might be more than one murderer in his midst…

I recently signed up for the Crime Classics Review Club which offers a newly republished classic crime novel bimonthly for review. I hadn't read any George Bellairs novels before so jumped at the chance of this one. A Knife For Harry Dodd is the twentieth of Bellairs' Inspector Littlejohn series, but I found no problem with not having read the previous books. In fact, I thought the Inspector was the least of all the characters and he didn't seem to have much of a personal story arc at all. Obviously the unravelling of the murder - or murders in the plural as it soon becomes - revolves around the lynchpin of Littlejohn's investigation and deductions, but he is generally a quiet, unassuming sort of man, overshadowed by other wonderful creations.

From the Nicholls women, a mother and daughter, the younger of whom had been Dodd's mistress, whom we meet in the first pages, to Sergeant Cromwell, to asylum inmate Mr Glass, to put-upon pet shop proprietor Ishmael Lott, I loved Bellairs' eye for character detail and human foibles. Even the briefest of cameo roles are wonderfully well observed and add a great sense of depth to the intricately plotted mystery. Perhaps some of the comments dismissing women's abilities are too dated now (the book was first published 66 years ago), but the roles allocated to the female characters generally transcend their initial stereotyped appearances. I won't describe the narrative itself other than to say I found it compelling reading with a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading more George Bellairs novels soon and already have another downloaded to my Kindle!

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  1. It sounds interesting, glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    1. I wasn't sure before starting, but actually really enjoyed this one which is good as I already have another of his downloaded!

  2. I love the sound of this classic club so much :) I really liked my crime fiction novel and don't want to stop reading these kind of books. I'll have to keep looking by to see your recommendations. I just noted this one down ^.^