Bulldog Drummond (Unabridged) Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at hisÂ WEBSITE
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Narrator: Roy McMillan
ISBN: 978-962-634-129-2 | Cat. no.: NA712912 | ASIN: B0037Z2YOA
Without question, the
Bulldog Drummond books written by Sapper (pen name for Lt. Col.
Herman Cyril McNeile) were literary predecessors to a certain
Commander James Bond. Along with fellow “Clubland” writers John
Buchan and Dornford Yates, Sapper created very British heroes who
loved adventure for the love of adventure and tantalized many an
English schoolboy. These included a certain Ian Fleming. In
fact, when Captain Hugh Chesterson Drummond, D.S.O, M.C. debuted in
1920, he became an instant sensation. Sapper penned 10 Drummond
novels, co-wrote one stage play, and after his death in 1937, Gerard
Fairlie wrote an additional 7 stories. (As it happened, Fairlie was
the actual model for the character.)
On top of all that, Drummond had an important place in the movies. Alfred Hitchcock’s original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) was based on Drummond stories. Before that, the first Drummond book was made into a silent film in 1923 followed by other adaptations of the books, the most popular being the series starring Ronald Coleman and later Ray Milland and John Howard. There were even two Bulldog Drummond films produced in the 1960s starring Richard Johnson as a very Bondian version of the character.
So it’s appropriate the
stories are being produced anew as audiobooks, and the question is:
do such old stories hold up for modern readers? Judging
from comparable fare being published by contemporary authors, the
answer is an unqualified yes.
It all began when World War I hero Hugh Drummond published the following ad in an English newspaper:
finding peace incredibly tedious, would welcome diversion. Legitimate
if possible; excitement essential.
In the opening pages of Bulldog Drummond, one Phyllis Benton answered this ad and sets the adventure in motion. Turns out, an evil consortium is after her father. What she doesn’t know and what Hugh discovers is that a diabolical mastermind named Carl Peterson—a model for many a Bond villain- and his vampish “daughter Irma have hatched a complicated plot to take over England. Drummond happily takes up the cause of defeating Peterson. Along the way, Drummond brings in his bantering gang of good-natured cronies to help out including his nonplussed manservant James Denny and witty war buddies Algie Longworth, Toby Sinclair, and Peter Darrow. After all these years, it’s no spoiler to reveal all these characters, including the Petersons, have only made their first appearances in this yarn—all would become stock characters of both page and the silver screen.
No one, then or now, should take this stuff seriously. The first novel involves Drummond wrestling gorillas, blow-pipe wielding pygmies, and magicians who steal jewels. If Drummond is always going to laugh in the face of danger, why shouldn’t his readers as well? Somehow, the jocular tone seems fresh, even after almost a century. In this audio version, reader Roy McMillan takes the perfect leisurely pace and provides the right accents for all the theatrical dialogue which reads like it was intended for an onstage comedy in the first place. And just wait for the last chapter to determine if there’s a point to the adventure which is not too remote from possibilities of today.
Some things never change. Some things do, such as style. And that’s the strength of Bulldog Drummond—the character has that in spades and so does the man who created him. Simply stated—it’s lots of fun. Stay tuned—Hugh Drummond will return. Seems like he never left—
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