Title: A Knife for Harry Dodd (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #21)
Author: George Bellairs
First published in 1953; republished by Agora Books on 13th June 2019
Genre: Crime/ Mystery, Classic Crime
I am back with a review of yet another masterpiece by George Bellairs!! After having read a few boring and dull crime classics for the past few days, I really wanted to read something that would break my jinxed reading preferences. And A Knife for Harry Dodd was just the right book to break this jinx. Cha-ching!
When it is Inspector Littlejohn series, nothing can go wrong. The reader is in for a whole lot of surprises, silly humor and quirky characters. If you have been following my blog for some time now, you would know that I am a great fan of the Inspector Littlejohn series. Come one, who wouldn’t be!!
Before I start with the review, I would like to make some unrelated statements. I read Surfeit of Suspects two weeks ago. It is #41 in the Littlejohn series. Littlejohn has been promoted to the rank of a Superintendent in this story. The murdered man is called Henry Dodd. And in A Knife for Harry Dodd, the victim is, no surprises here, Harry Dodd. Mind you, these two Dodds are not related to each other. End of unrelated statements. Let’s continue with the review.
So, the story goes something like this. Dorothy and her mum, Mrs Nicholls, are sitting in their house. A radio is blaring somewhere in the background and the two women are in their own worlds. Dorothy has a book in her hand while her mum is busy knitting. Their work is interrupted by a phone call. Dorothy is asked to pick Harry up and there is quite an exchange of words and thoughts between the Nicholls women about the car and Dorothy’s “excellent” driving.
They meet Harry at the place he asked them to come. The man slumps down and the ladies pick him up and take him home. They observe that he’s injured, stabbed with a knife to his back. Once they reach home, they dress his wound and put him off to sleep. Lest did they know that Harry is never going to wake up from his sleep.
Harry’s brother is a politician and he wants to play a major role in the upcoming elections. So Littlejohn is assigned to solve the case and keep the media out of it. You see, Harry was the black sheep in the Dodd family. He ran away with his secretary, Dorothy, six years ago, and caused quite a scandal. He then realized his mistake and went back to his wife. But his children were now annoyed with his doings and they forced their parents to go separate ways (divorce).
In spite of this misdeed, Harry Dodd was not that bad a man. So who would have wanted to stab him in the back? The family has many secrets and so do the suspects. The Nicholls women are a clingy lot too. Littlejohn and Cromwell investigate the murder.
Now that you have a gist of the story, let me tell you what I liked about it. Let’s start with the characters. Now that Dorothy is single – she and Harry were never married; though Harry stayed with the Nicholls women, he had his own room – she has her eyes set on every prospective lover. There is one scene when she gives Cromwell a fluttering-of-eyelashes look and the poor chap blushes. Cheeky Cheeky! The Dodd family is weird too. Harry had three kids – two sons and a daughter. The daughter married a “famous” man and they both now live a very ‘weird’ life. Peter, the youngest is a good-for-nothing. He’s jobless – quite literally – and drives around in his car.
Littlejohn and Cromwell need no introduction. However, there was one interesting tiny bit in the story about Littlejohn’s child. When Littlejohn sees Nancy (no spoilers here), Cromwell sees a pang of sadness in Littlejohn’s eyes. It seems Littlejohn had a child but it died young. Oww!
The pink-ponk clock is back!! What on Earth am I talking about? In one of the previous Littlejohn series, Littlejohn hears the clock go pink-ponk pink-ponk. (Not tick-tock) In this story, Cromwell hears a clock in the background go Pink-ponk, pink-ponk, ponk, pink – the clock seemed to miss a beat.
Then there is this nasty Superintendent Judkins – he was pretty rude to Cromwell once. He apologizes for it later on… And Judkin’s assistant Drane is quite a hoot. The guy is very polite. Excuse me… excuse me… very, very polite. He walks into the room saying excuse me. And at one time, he chokes over something. Cough cough excuse me excuse me cough cough excuse me excuse me. This was so hilarious! Excuse me! 😀 There’s also a guy named Comfort. Unfortunately, he died in a very uncomfortable accident! Ouch! And not to forget Mr Glass. Don’t go near him, he’s fragile! Then there is this medical examiner who is frustrated about everything :
“You two were there. Why didn’t you help me? What’s the use of keeping a dog and barking yourself…?
I tend to write a long review (or should I call this an essay? 😉 ) when it’s a Bellairs novel but I can’t help it. There’s so much to talk about… I absolutely love this series! I mean, seriously, what a hoot! If you are feeling low, sad or even happy, you have to read Littlejohn series. Every book in this series is super hilarious, quirky and of course, it goes without saying that Inspector Littlejohn is the best detective ever! Also, this was quite different from the other Littlejohn books that I have read so far. Different in the sense, the quirk factor and the humor was at an all-time high. And so were the number of crimes committed. And don’t get me started on the twists and turns and the suspense!
So what are you waiting for? Read and find out who wanted to stab a poor fella in the back. Chop chop!
Verdict: A Knife for Harry Dodd is an engrossing, enjoyable and entertaining book.
Four of my blogger friends read this book too. This was Laurie and Anjana’s first Bellairs novel. 😀 😀
Aidan’s review is here.
You can also check my reviews of other books in this series here.
Many thanks to George Bellairs Estate and Agora Books for the ARC.