A Knife For Harry Dodd (1953) by George Bellairs

Harry Dodd had a complicated life. He had left his wife and family to live with Dorothy Nicholls (and her mother) but his life with them was hardly straightforward. And even beyond his living arrangements, Harry had many secrets. And it was one of those secrets that cause someone to stick a knife in his back.

Enter Inspector Littlejohn, who finds that dealing with Dodd’s family and acquaintances is much more complex than the simple stabbing would have led him to initially believe.

Bellairs wrote fifty eight detective mysteries. Despite what Amazon think, this is the twenty first title – the British Library have released three of them (two as a single volume) with two more on the way and now Agora Books have releasing a number of them – eight I think to date.

Bellairs is an interesting writer and has been in and out of print at times, despite most crime fiction fans being unaware of his work. I suppose the most similar author would be E C R Lorac. While the mystery itself is not on the level of a Christie (although what is, really), where Bellairs shines is in the character work. He juggles here a large cast of characters and while Inspector Littlejohn himself functions primarily as a plot device to propel the narrative forward, the suspects are an intriguing bunch.

The plot is sufficiently complex with some good red herrings, although the book does seem to reveal the villain a little early for my tastes. But, as with Death Of A Busybody, this is a worthwhile read and I look forward to reading more of the author.

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