Over the past few months, I have mentioned Milward Kennedy a number of times in this blog. I find him rather interesting as a Golden Age detective novelist – not in the same league as Anthony Berkeley, I must admit, but equally interested in doing something different with the detective story and adding more than a touch of humour.
My choice for today's Forgotten Book is a Kennedy novel that dates back nearly 80 years and which, I would like to bet, not many of my readers have heard of, let alone read. Bull's Eye is a rather unusual, if somewhat meandering, mystery in the country house tradition which offers quite a few ironic touches worthy of Berkeley.
This was the book that introduced Sir George Bull, who is hired as a private detective by a woman who appears to have rather more money than sense. The matters that Sir George is asked to investigate seem relatively trivial, but no sooner has he joined one of those house parties so common in Golden Age books than a rather shady character dies in mysterious circumstances. Sir George duly decides to investigate.
One of the things that puzzled me when reading this book was the curious way in which Kennedy characterised Sir George. I thought this was a failing, but the final chapter cast a rather different light on Sir George's activities. The humour deployed throughout is not quite strong enough for a modern reader to be bowled over with admiration for Kennedy's wit, but the story is interesting and original enough to me to understand why Kennedy decided to bring Sir George Bull back in a subsequent novel.