A Knife for Harry Dodd
An Inspector Littlejohn Mystery
by George Bellairs
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 13 Jun 2019 | Archive Date 03 Jul 2019
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? To all his friends, Dodd was a kind man living a life of routine. Was it a random attack? Or someone nearer to his inner circle? When Inspector Littlejohn and Cromwell are called in to investigate this murder, they uncover the dark side to the Dodds: a power-hungry family rife with secrets and manipulation. Perhaps Dodd’s life was not as simple as it seemed… As more motives and more enemies emerge, Littlejohn is determined to learn if Dodd was the target in a deadly game of revenge.
Bogged down by 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 their midst...
A Knife for Harry Dodd was first published in 1953.
A Note From the Publisher
If you enjoyed reading A Knife for Harry Dodd, we'd really appreciate seeing your honest review on Amazon. Thank you and happy reading, Agora Books.
“One of the subtlest and wittiest practitioners of the simon-pure British detective story” — New York Times
“Mr Bellairs always gives good value” — The Sunday Times
“Bellairs works in a comic tradition that extends from Ben Jonson… Each character has a particular trait exaggerated to the point of obsession or caricature.” — Susan B MacDougall
Average rating from 73 members
Wonderful George Bellairs. Stories with intrigue and mystery, well written and grammatically correct. I had no idea who the villain was until the author told me. A book full of unattractive people and unloving family members. The style is out of the past, although the story is up to date. Read it.
Harry Dodd is stabbed in the back while walking home from the pub. Who would want to kill such an unassuming man? Was it the mistress that he regrets moving in with, her mother (who just happens to live with them too), or one of the many family members who hate him for various reasons. Inspector Littlejohn and Sergeant Cromwell of the Metropolitan Police are brought in to investigate. Why have I never read anything by George Bellairs before this?!! I absolutely love this book. It is intelligently written, with sharp, witty dialogue. The plot is intricate and full of twists, but like a true Golden Age Mystery, all of the clues are there, laid out for you to solve the crime. And while this was published and takes place in 1953, the story doesn’t feel dated. What I really enjoyed were the the many characters that Littlejohn and Cromwell encounter during the investigation. Each added something to the plot, but also, the colorful descriptions of each were fabulous. They ranged from funny “His thin neck projected from his collar like a snake, and his head was almost the same diameter, which gave it the look of a nail sticking out from his collar”, to downright snarky “Her face was round, good-natured and self-indulgent, her figure full and rather attractive for those who liked them that way.” I have already put several more of the series on my TBR list, and I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a good mystery, or just a good read. My thanks to NetGalley and Agora Books for the advance reader copy made available for my review.
I just can't get enough of books by George Bellair, always good to read, with a wonderful storyline and a really good mystery. I love the writing style as it really brings the people and era alive in every book. I am always sad when I come to the end of his books.
This book is a classic English murder mystery which unfolds slowly but steadily. There are a lot of depths to each characters and the storyline twisted and turned as Inspector Littlejohn and Cromwell followed the clues with some solid detecting work.
This is another highly enjoyable mystery novel from George Bellairs. There is a lot in this book to engage with. From the unexpectedly intricate plot, which turns in some surprising directions, to the wonderfully drawn characters. I love the gentle comedy Bellairs often infuses his minor characters with as well. I would strongly recommend this title for anyone who loves reading vintage/golden age detective fiction.
The eighth in the,ever polite but ever shrewd, Inspector Littlejohn mysteries from the very talented pen of George Bellairs. Classic, vintage crime at it's best. Ingenious and engaging plotting, perfect prose, superb characterisation and clever flashes of humour combine for a highly satisfying read. Thoroughly recommended.
Another great Bellairs book! I read it in one sitting. A seemingly likeable man is murdered on his way home from the Pub and initially it is a mystery why he was murdered. However, as the story goes on, there are a multitude of interesting and amusing potential suspects, all with alibis. It is up to Inspector Littlejohn and Sargeant Cromwell to unravel the case, and they are at their best - following the trail from countryside to city to the coast.
I'm so pleased that I discovered George Bellairs (a bank manager and crime writer!) and his detective Inspector Littlejohn through this upcoming reissue from Agora Books. The twenty-first of Bellairs' Littlejohn novels, A Knife for Harry Dodd is a thoroughly enjoyable, twisty puzzle of a book. The story kicks off right with the title, as we find out where the knife for Harry Dodd comes from. Late one night, Harry Dodd calls his mistress, Dorothy Nicholls, from the phone box in the village to let her know he's ill and needs a ride home. She and her mother rush out - with some general confusion, as neither Dorothy nor her mother knows how to drive - to find Harry. They discover he's been stabbed, and by the time they get him home, Harry is dead. There are a large number of suspects - Harry's brother, a prominent politician. His two respectable-seeming sons and one respectable-seeming daughter and her respectable-seeming husband. His estranged ex-wife. The mother of a love child. A disgruntled business partner. His father. As Chief Inspector Littlejohn and his factotum Cromwell dig deeper into what Harry was up to in the last few months before his death, they realize they have to move quickly to find a ruthless killer ... because now other bodies are starting to pile up. A Knife for Harry Dodd throws in just the right amount of red herrings, with a well-earned resolution that let me very pleased - I did figure this one out, but only after a couple of false starts, which is my favorite kind of mystery. Bellairs's writing is wryly funny and he wrote with a pleasant, if fairly terse, style. This is simply a classic, old school British mystery of the 1950s from an author who deserves to be widely read - or reread - today, particularly for an fan of the Golden Era of detective novels looking for another author to plow through. In summary: Four Sherlocks. Best enjoyed in your local country pub with a pint of bitter or orange juice, depending on your personal preferences.
Harry Dodd, a man who had a fling with his secretary and ended up divorced (against his and his wife’s wishes) and living with the secretary and her mom but treating them more like housekeepers, is knifed to death outside his local bar. The first, but not the last, murder. I found it a tad annoying how everyone though Dodd was such a great guy and the two women he lived with were so horrible (although they kind of were), but other than that, a very enjoyable read full of the series’ typical quirky characters and entertaining coincidences and a good, solid mystery.
I really enjoyed this book. There were a lot of, what appeared to be red herrings, but they all turned out to be important and fit together in the end. Often times, if I have read a lot of a mystery writer's works,I can often figure out what is going to happen from the writing tricks they use in their other books. This was definitely not true here. The twists and turns were not contrived, but fit right with the story. Who stabbed Harry Dodd in the back? Even more interesting, why did he call his womenfolk to come and bring him home rather than go to a hospital or the police? Was it one of his children,who despised him? Who would want to kill this man with no money and no big prospects? We find out that Harry was much more than he seemed. Is he a cad? a bum? a criminal? Only in the last chapter or two are these questions answered.
If you've read any of the littlejohn series you know you're in for a treat and this one doesn't disappoint, nice laid-back who done it but with enough suspense and twists to keep you going. This adventure is based near Lowestoft and Cambridge, and includes Cromwell he's able assistant and the usual array of fun characters that may at sometimes be comical but yet are still very believable. I guess they are believable because they have flaws like the rest of us plus most have some redeeming features. The plot is well worked out and addictive the twist and humour come through it with most humour at the beginning and the twists at the end but not exclusively but it's how your expect it to be it you have read any of George Bellaire books before. He is no your average bank manager (Mr Bellaire that is). If you haven't read any of littlejohn series before then this is a good place to start littlejohn is from Scotland yard and Cromwell is his assistant and they're called into a murder enquiry when he called Harry. Is stabbed in the back and dies of his injury. As the story progresses so there's a death count and what appears to be a murder with no motive, soon turns off in several directions as we learn of his strange and at times perplexing life. Harry Dodd send to have made one mistake that was his much younger secretary and a weekend away. Is offspring couldn't wait to get in divorce from his from their mother and take over his family business and well the rest I will let you read for your self and I hope you do because it's a great book from a fantastic series. And I haven't yet found any of this these books to warrant a anything less than five stars, see what you think.
It was a fine reunion with Littlejohn and Cromwell. The story takes place in rural England in the 1950s. Harry Dodd is stabbed on his way home from the pub. He is an unobtrusive man, who now lives with his mistress and her mother. The family forced a divorce after his digression and apart from his former wife there is no love lost between them. In the beginning Littlejohn and Cromwell have very little to go by, but gradually Harry's whereabouts unfolds and also who his enemies and friends are. More murders take place before they succeed in solving the crime. It is a very well told story with a good plot, which was difficult to guess. And as always a lot of fun characters. The teamwork between Littlejohn and Cromwell delightful - so jet another well written mystery by George Bellairs.
There are many classes or kinds of detective stories and I am not going to try and classify them all but I will describe which this particular book falls under. We walk the line along with the lead investigators, seeing what they see and are only allowed to (probably) see a little bit further down the line till the culprit is unmasked. Then the tale still continues, in order to wrap the story up as well as the apprehension of the culprit. There is no tricking of the villains into revealing their doings but careful piecing of the puzzle by everyone as a team and sometimes a sleight of hand (on only a few occasions). Harry Dodd is knifed and subsequently dies of the injury. He is a man of many faces. Each person, from varied parts of his life, indicate a whole different person and it hard to figure which of those descriptions can be actually added to the entire puzzle. There is subtle humour sprinkled about the tale, nothing extravagant but enough to get a feel for the investigative duo, Inspector Littlejohn and Cromwell. It was a pretty solid tale which could have been shorter but considering the time of its original publication, the length is to be expected. This story is not for anyone in a hurry, especially to pin their accusations correctly on any one person since the extended family, friends, and acquaintances are all under scrutiny to figure out who killed Harry Dodd.
Harry Dodd was a married man with a successful business. All that was lost when Harry went "middle-aged crazy" and ran off briefly with a younger woman. Now he's stuck in a stifling cottage with his not-too-bright lover and her pushy mother where he lives in the attic to escape them. One evening, someone knifes and kills Harry. George Bellairs' reoccurring characters, Inspector Littlejohn and Officer Cromwell of Scotland Yard, are called in. As they investigate, the body count rises. While murder is a serious matter, Bellairs' description of Harry's lover and her mother, and their attempts to act cultured, is hilarious. This is an entertaining classic British mystery populated with colorful characters, some likeable and some downright despicable.
George Bellairs has written a challenging mystery in "A Knife for Harry Dodd". One mistake changes the course of a man's life. Still, he tried to do the right thing. And his reward? A knife in the back! Who killed Harry Dodd? The many secrets of so many people muddy the waters for Inspector Littlejohn, who looks for the hidden and listens for the unspoken. A tantalizing whodunnit that unfolds leaving you thinking, "Aha! But yet...." This is a very enjoyable read with plenty of bad guys to choose from. Unlike some mysteries that lead you down the garden path until disclosing a little known character with an improbable motive, Bellairs resolves this mystery in a way that, in hindsight, seems obvious and only too logical. Accompany Littlejohn and Cromwell on their quest for truth and see if you can find the murderer yourself. This is a story you become deeply invested in - a great book for those who enjoy the classic mystery genre.
A Knife for Harry Dodd is another Inspector Littlejohn story by George Bellairs and it is another excellently written murder mystery. There are a number of "Golden Age" crime or mystery books being reissued and it is great if you, like me, enjoy an old fashioned whodunnit. A Knife for Harry Dodd is an excellent example of the genre that kept me guessing until the end. Thoroughly recommended
This was a reread for me and was the first Bellairs I ever read. This edition is much improved on the previous and all typos etc have been corrected. A very convoluted and unusual plot with the usual surfeit of victims and lack of suspects. What I enjoy so much about Bellairs books are the social history that can be picked up from his descriptions of countryside, towns, clothing and decor. And having worked in finance for forty years the investments thread in this one was of interest to me too. It's not his best but it's a darned good read, nonetheless.
Yet another Bellairs' masterpiece! This book was quite different from the other Littlejohn series that I have read so far. The mystery, suspense, pace and tension was very well maintained until the end. Of course, given that this is a Bellairs novel, one can expect some quirky humour and weird characters. Overall, this was an entertaining, engrossing and enjoyable read. A highly recommended book for those who love Classic mysteries.
This is a very well written story. I love Inspector Littlejohn stories. Moves at a relatively quick pace for a British detective story. I have to admit, I did not see the ending. Highly recommend. I received an advance reader copy from the publisher. Opinions are my own.
I still have to find a George Bellairs' book I didn't like. They're all engrossing, well written and fun to read. This one was amazing, I couldn't read it fast enough and wasn't able to go to sleep until I discovered who the culprit was (2 am in the morning). The cast of characters is fascinating, most of them are unlikable and seedy but fleshed out and well written. The mystery was great, full of twists and turns, it kept me guessing till the end. I love Inspector Littlejohn and Cromwell and I look forward to reading other books in this great series. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Agora Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
I really enjoyed this. Lots of great detail, a steadily unrolling plot about a dysfunctional family, set against the morality of the time, and the plot keeps moving in ways you'd least expect. Beginning with the abrupt stabbing of Harry Dodd, it gradually uncovers many layers of deceit and complication, as the truth of his life and the secrets within his estranged family are revealed.
When the Nicholls, mother and daughter, receive a phone call from Harry Dodd to collect him, they at first believe his is drunk but later discover that he has been stabbed and is now dead. But why would anyone want him dead. Inspector Littlejohn and Cromwell of Scotland Yard are called in to investigate. An enjoyable well-written mystery, with some twists to get to the solution but also contains a set of unlikeable people called the Dodds' family. With an easy to read writing style. Original written in 1953
Wow _ a George Bellairs I haven't read! The reader is straight into s brilliant story in vintage George Bellairs' style. There are lots of weird and wonderful characters _ many of whom were probably drawn from the years when the author was a bank manager, in the days when a person in that position knew all his customers personal and private intimate details. Absolutely one of his best _ please republish all of the Littlejohn books.
A Knife for Harry Dodd is the 21st (!!!) Inspector Littlejohn mystery by George Bellairs. Originally published in 1953, this reformat and re-release from Agora, out 13th June 2019 is 312 pages and available in ebook and paperback formats. George Bellairs was a prolific and very readable author. His books are enjoyable with solid characterizations, often droll dialogue and twisty plots. This one is maybe not my absolute favorite of the ones I've read by him, but it's an above average engaging murder mystery. Harry Dodd is a friendly engaging man with set habits, egalitarian taste in friends, and a complex history. He is stabbed on the way home from the pub and the body count continues from there. Part of the appeal of the Littlejohn mysteries for me are the unerring 'English village' bucolic settings with tension and enmities rife just under the surface. Bellairs was an adept commentator on the human condition and I think the comparison with Simenon's French novels is an apt one. Five stars, a diverting read, cleverly put together.
This was a great addition to the Chief Inspector Littlejohn series. I think that anyone could read this, whether you have read the other books in the series or not. I hadn't read any of the other books and enjoyed it
I recently signed up for the Crime Classics Review Club which offers a newly republished classic crime novel each month 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 eighth 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!
A Delicious Dark Mystery with Dashes of Farce I love the Littlejohn mysteries, but this is the best yet. A confusing series of murders, with even more confusing motives. As usual in these books, the atmosphere of connected small villages and farms dominates, with delightful local characters with outlandish names for people and ale houses as Inspector Littlejohn and his assistant Cromwell investigate. This includes visits to an insane asylum and caring about the fate of poor Mr Lott, seller of parrot seed. I was smiling the entire time. I have posted on Amazon but do not yet have their link to my review
I haven't read George Bellairs until now but I certainly will again. This story moves with a really well- written cast of characters. Inspector Littlejohn is a regular in a long line of books and he puzzles things out by chasing the clues wherever they lead. There is a long, twisted, path of possible people with enough red-herrings to make it very enjoyable. I like the rural England shown in these descriptions written in 1953 and the Pub life in particular. The characters that hang out there...which Bellairs had a talent for developing-give life to this book. George Bellairs wrote over 50 books in a long career. The writing is reminiscent of the top-notch English mystery writers of the day with plenty of puzzles and not a lot of gore. I am fond of this type of writing and rejoice I have found another of these authors. I had Bellairs recommended to me on one of the Golden Age Mystery sites and I highly recommend him to you. Harry Dodd has secrets in his life and they may have just gotten him murdered. Five Stars...
A Knife for Harry Dodd is the eighth volume in the Inspector Littlejohn series by George Bellairs. First published in 1953, it holds up well. Unlike many “golden age” mysteries, this one had a very credible plot, though at times convoluted. But it all gets straightened out nicely in the end. And as crazy as the beginning sounded, the characters are believable. To say the story starts out interesting is selling it short: Harry Dodd is stabbed in the back on his way home from the pub, but instead of calling for the police, he phones his girlfriend and her mother and tells them to come fetch him. I was immediately hooked, and loved the whole story. Not having read any of the others in the series, I was a little confused at first about which policeman was the main one to watch. But it centered quickly on Inspector Littlejohn, with some amazing help from Sergeant Cromwell (inevitably referred to by one wag as ‘Oliver’). I’ll be reading more of Inspector Littlejohn.
I loved this book. At the center of an intriguing tale, we have the deceased Harry Dodd, surrounded by a wide-ranging assortment of family, friends and others. To solve the presenting puzzle, we have Inspector Littlejohn, who must discover the facts within this cast of characters--and that is no easy task. The story unfolds in layers, and Littlejohn is obliged to use all his powers of detection to arrive at a solution. Bellairs excels at characterization, and it is with fascination that we venture through the story as each new element emerges. This is a long and intricate saga that held my interest from beginning to end. My thanks to author, publisher, Crime Classics Advance Readers Club, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.
First published in 1953, A Knife for Harry Dodd is the eighth book in the Inspector Littlejohn Mysteries. One night Dorothy Nicholls and her mother have their evening disturbed by a phone call from Harry Dodd asking to be picked up from the pub. Little do they realise until they bring him home, that Harry had a stab wound in the back, and he is dead by the time they arrive. Inspector Littlejohn is assigned to the case and he tries to figure out who would want to kill Harry. As the case unravels, we begin to learn more about Harry's life: the jealous lovers, the blackmail and the madness. Every time I think I've guessed what's happened, another curveball is thrown my way. Bellairs created a well-crafted police procedural crime novel with this title and I'm looking forward to reading more Inspector Littlejohn mysteries in future. For someone who's not read much classic crime for a few years, I really enjoyed it
Always a good read! George Bellairs is an accomplished writer who crafts fascinating mysteries told in classic style. One of my favorite authors! And this book is a worthy addition to the Inspector Littlejohn series, with a sympathetic murder victim and a twisty plot.
I am really loving the George Bellairs series. This is yet another very well written story with excellent characters from Harry, whose life has become kind of a shambles, to the poor, bullied Mr. Lott, to the snotty Dodd family, Inspector Littlejohn is now one of my favorites of Scotland Yard. It's one of those stories that make you think "what might have been" had things gone differently. I have to admit that I couldn't figure out who killed poor Mr. Dodd and it was a surprise to me. You can't go wrong giving this little cozy a try.
There is no snoozing through this mystery. There are a host of suspects and contributing characters, none of whom can tell the truth without embellishment or editing. We follow Inspector Littlejohn as he unpeels this onion and on the way grow more and more fond of Harry Dodd. The understated humor and very recognizable British characters make for an enjoyable cozy.
This is yet another wonderful Golden Age mystery by the prolific George Bellairs. I am really pleased to see these terrific old mysteries being republished for another generation of readers. Bellairs doesn’t need some cutesy theme to make his books appealing. He simply writes excellent mysteries, populated by interesting characters, sprinkled here and there with a bit of humor, and peppered with clues. He often brings things to an unexpected conclusion. I’ve read at least ten of this series and haven’t guessed the ending yet. Inspector Littlejohn is one of my favorite sleuths. He is wise and perceptive and always calm, no matter what circumstances he finds himself in. In this book, A Knife for Harry Dodd, the plot is complex, and many of the characters are both unpleasant and suspects in the crime. The story might be perceived as moving a bit slowly for modern tastes, but I feel it adds to the sense of time and place. (No computers to quickly find information and even a long distance phone call was a big deal!). The end surprised me a bit, but it was both plausible and consistent with the story. Highly recommended if you enjoy a classic mystery that is well written and easy to read.
From an apparently simple beginning, the stabbing murder of Harry Dodd, Bellairs constructs an increasingly complex tale of secrets and deception. The reader is repeatedly led to see Harry, his family and associates, from one perspective, only to discover a new set of facts which upend everything. As the plot advances in this shifting ,landscape, Bellairs’ depiction of character is deft and often scathing. His observations are enhanced both by sharply drawn physical description and dialogue.. interestingly, Bellairs is something of a moralist, at least he plays favorites among his characters. He obviously dislikes some and is sympathetic towards others, despite their human frailty. Overall, the book is well constructed and compelling; plot, character and intrigue keep everything moving until the end.
3.75 stars I am a fan of vintage mysteries, and Littlejohn's cases are always interesting. They are intelligently written and presume the reader to be paying attention. In this instance, a family drama unfolds. Harry Dodd has been ostracized from his family (wife and grown children) after having a brief fling with his secretary. He loses everything, and ends up living in a cheap place with the secretary and her mother. Any romantic spark is long gone, and he escapes every evening to the local pub. One dark night he is stabbed on the way home. When Littlejohn and crew start looking for suspects, layers of intrigue are uncovered. Is there another girlfriend down at the pub? And whose child is her little girl? What about Harry's business ventures? He is working on a secret project that could put his wife's family business in peril. And where did he find the money to make generous gestures to various friends? More murders follow -- someone has something to hide. Enjoyable as always. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.