Monday, June 23, 2014
Blogging Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond, Part Three – The Black Gang
The most striking feature of the second Bulldog Drummond thriller by Sapper is the near complete removal of humor from the proceedings compared with the frequent light touch demonstrated with the initial book in the series. There is also precious little mention of the First World War, which was such an important factor in the first book, as the focus here is much more on the reaction against the Russian Revolution and the fear of a similar communist uprising occurring in Britain during the early 1920s. Once more the influence of Edgar Wallace’s Four Just Men series is strongly felt, particularly in the first half of the book where the Black Gang are featured anonymously with no mention of their true identities. Many critics label this second entry in the long-running series as fascist. I suppose that is an understandable reaction to a vigilante storyline in which it is suggested Britain would benefit from modifying freedom of speech to deny protection to radicals. The Black Gang is very much a Machiavellian work, but one which seeks to restore order at its conclusion by having Hugh Drummond agree to dismantle the Black Gang and let the law sit in judgment over criminals going forward. Of course with such a finale as this one wonders why Sapper bothered to take the proceedings to such an extreme in the first place. The success Edgar Wallace enjoyed with his own vigilante series was undeniably an influence, but the author’s underlying motivation appears to have been his genuine outrage over the slaughter of the Russian royal family and the belief that those behind the Bolshevik movement were not fervent followers of communism, but rather unprincipled villains eager to exploit a utopian ideology to put themselves in positions of power. Sapper wanted to see the threat of communism put down and could only envision such a task being accomplished by private citizens working outside the law. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.