Created by P.G. Wodehouse
“Consider the case of Henry Pifield Rice… I must explain Henry early, to avoid disappointment. If I simply said he was a detective, and let it go at that, I should be obtaining the reader’s interest under false pretences. He was really only a sort of detective, a species of sleuth. At Stafford’s International Investigation Bureau, in the Strand, where he was employed, they did not require him to solve mysteries which had baffled the police. He had never measured a footprint in his life, and what he did not know about bloodstains would have filled a library.”
— the scoop on Henry
P.G. Wodehouse wrote nearly 100 books, almost all of them comic novels. He’s best known, of course, for creating the characters of Jeeves, the ultimate valet (or as he would have it, the ultimate “gentleman’s gentleman”) and perennial upper class twit, Bertie Wooster, as well as other memorable figures such as the charmingly foppish Psmith, get-rich-quick schemer Ukridge, the loquacious Mr. Mulliner, and the various cloth-headed denizens of Blandings Castle and the Drones’ Club.
Of course, the genial P.G. Wodehouse certainly never wrote a genuine hard-boiled detective story in his life my goodness, no so what is he doing here? Well, virtually every one of Wodehouse’s many stories and novels takes place in the same interconnected little world, and given Wodehouse’s continued reliance on farcical plots involving impersonations, mistaken identities and stolen heirlooms, it’s only natural that a private detective would be called in to sort out at least some of the strange goings-on. And indeed, it turns out that several desperate characters in the Wodehouse canon employed the services of various private eyes over the years.
HENRY PIFIELD RICE was one of them, an astoundingly inept junior detective at a large detective agency who endeavoured to clean up his act in order to impress the girl of his dreams. Henry’s one appearance, in “Bill the Bloodhound,” wasn’t really even a detective yarn, but rather a comic romance in which the lead just happened to be a gumshoe. Or, as the narrator of the tale refers to him, “only a sort of detective, a near-sleuth.”
- “Bill The Bloodhound” (February 1915, Century Magazine)
- The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories (1917) | Buy this book|Kindle it!
Includes “Bill the Bloodhound”
- P.G. Wodehouse: P.I. Writer
Strange but true.
- Famous Dabblers in the Form
Non-P.I. writers who have taken a whack at the genre.