Blind Man’s Bluff by Baynard Kendrick
I recently picked up Blind Man’s Bluff by Baynard Kendrick (Triangle Books, 1943) at Green Element Resale and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I later discovered that this author is, like, one of the biggest classic mystery writers from my favorite time periods and was even in all these writing associations, so I clearly should not have been surprised.
But let’s get to the book.
It starts off with an attempted murder/completed suicide in the past, and six years later, the intended victim – who had been blinded by the attempt – is finally murdered. Or did he jump? At first his son is to blame, but soon the police are baffled. That’s when they call in our investigator hero.
The investigator is also blind, and is like a sort of proto-Daredevil, his other senses letting him catch all sorts of intricate details others miss. He soon realizes the past attempted murder/suicide may not be so simple either.
Matters get even more complicated as a lawyer dies in the same confusing manner – apparent, inexplicable suicide in a locked room, with a strange clue from six years ago left in his apartment. Then a security guard dies in the same way as the rest, again, and still there’s no proof.
Finally it’s up to our investigator protagonist to bluff the suspected murderer, but there’s an extra variable that he couldn’t have possibly planned for…
How does he finally catch the murderer?
The Book Was Great
Blind Man’s Bluff delivered exactly that – a blind man bluffing. And it was really quite good! I wasn’t sure how a blind detective would work out, and prepared myself for it to be terrible, but nah, it worked out really well and was a very fun ride. The murder method was very creative, and it was fun seeing everything tie together in the end. It was possible to guess who the murderer was, but I didn’t. I had a hunch, but I won’t lie, I was nowhere near confident that I was right.
It takes place in a larger world that was good at times, but at times confusing – some of the characters served no purpose in this story, but were included just because they were characters from the universe that needed to make an appearance. It wasn’t a huge setback, but it sidetracked the plot sometimes. The characters themselves were hard to keep straight every now and then, so this didn’t help.
There was also a random, underdeveloped, and completely unnecessary “romance” (if you can even call it that) shoved into the side of this story, which was terrible and weakened the book a great deal during the few sections it was mentioned in. This was definitely the biggest flaw in the book, but weird romances are shoehorned into most books in this period, so it wasn’t totally unexpected.
All in all, though, Blind Man’s Bluff was a good book. If you’re a fan of mysteries in the 1900-1959 era, check it out!