Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Third Round, by Sapper

The Third Round was, as its name suggests, the third of the Bulldog Drummond novels written by Herman Cyril McNeile under the pseudonym Sapper. And it’s just as much fun as the first two.

Written in 1924 it is of course a product of its time. If you like your adventure fiction to be politically correct and culturally sensitive then you won’t like the Bulldog Drummond stories. Drummond believes in all sorts of discredited ideas, things like honour and decency and patriotism and loyalty.

The first Bulldog Drummond novel introduced us to Captain Hugh Drummond, an officer who was finding peacetime rather dull. He had served with distinction in the Great War but found adjustment to the postwar world somewhat difficult. He had placed an advertisement in the newspaper offering his services in any kind of adventure as long as it didn’t conflict with his personal code of honour. Drummond was a man not overburdened with either good looks or the higher intellectual gifts but possessed of commonsense, great physical strength, immense courage and a considerable quantity of low cunning, qualities that had allowed him to survive the dangers of war.

He soon found himself matching wits with ruthless diabolical criminal mastermind Carl Peterson. Their duel continues throughout the first four novels.

The Third Round finds Drummond draw into the affairs of an eccentric scientist who has discovered a means of producing perfect artificial diamond, in almost limitless quantities. Not surprisingly this had upset the syndicates that control the diamond trade. The trade is strictly regulated in order to keep prices as high as possible. No the established players in the trade face ruin. Their response is to employ someone to kill the scientist.

As it happens, an old pal of Drummond’s hope to marry the scientist’s daughter. Drummond is informed of the threats that have been made, and his problem now is to keep a very cantankerous, very stubborn and very uncooperative scientist alive.

He doesn’t yet know that Carl Peterson is involved but this will come as little surprise to the reader (the title of the book more or less tells us that this will be Drummond’s third encounter with the brilliant but evil Peterson. And we can be sure that the beautiful but vicious Irma (supposedly Peterson’s daughter but more likely his mistress) will put in an appearance at some stage

Peterson has plans of his own, plans that the diamond syndicates may well find to be even more disadvantageous than the eccentric professor’s original invention of the diamond-manufacturing process.

There’s action in abundance, plenty of narrow escapes, and countess opportunities for Drummond to display the qualities that earned him his nickname of Bulldog Drummond.

Great entertainment, and highly recommended.

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