By the time Sapper — pen name for Herman Cyril McNeile — published the third of his “Bulldog Drummond" novels in 1924, an action-adventure franchise was already firmly under way. As described in his debut story in 1920, Capt. Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, D.S.O., M.C., is a World War I vet hungering to enjoy the lusty sporting life of a wealthy English gentleman.
In short order, Drummond and his equally adventuresome band are taking on extraordinary criminals and conspiracies. The character was so popular that the first book was quickly and successfully adapted for the stage while its author became the highest paid short story writer of the 1920s.
Bulldog first came to the silent movie screen in 1923, and various incarnations and series were produced until the late 1960s. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much was based on Bulldog Drummond stories. Richard Johnson gave Bulldog a very Bondian take in Deadlier Then the Male (1966) and Some Girls Do (1968). Along the way, Bulldog starred in his own radio show and was the lead avenger in books written by various authors well after Sapper died in 1937.
In the Case of The Third Round (book, 1924; film, 1925), Drummond isn’t the only recurring character. The arch-nemesis of the first four novels is master of disguise Carl Peterson, who repeatedly tries to pull the puppet strings of criminal escapades that typically threaten the fate of England.
Clearly based on literary predecessors such as Moriarty and Fu Manchu, this time Peterson is after a formula created by Professor Goodman that can make flawless diamonds. Members of the Metropolitan Diamond Syndicate, fearful of this threat to their profits, hire Peterson to silence Goodman — only to have their assassin turn out to have plans of his own. And these plans include silencing his old foe, Bulldog Drummond, in a watery grave, after getting in some psychotic revenge.