Adrian Mulliner

Created by P.G. Wodehouse
(1881-1975)

“The effect on her of a dark, keen-eyed man like Adrian Mulliner, who spoke well and easily of footprints, psychology and the underworld, must have been stupendous.”
—  “The Smile That Wins”

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 in fact, some would say he was patently incapable of such a thing 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.

ADRIAN MULLINER 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. Adrian first appeared in “The Smile That Wins.” Okay, it wasn’t really a detective yarn but rather a comic romance in which the lead just happened to be a gumshoe. Still, it’s pretty entertaining.

Adrian, incidentally, is just one of the innumerable nephews of Wodehouse’s Mr. Mulliner character; he would return years later in a short Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “From A Detective’s Notebook,” wherein he discovers the “truth” about the great detective.

SHORT STORIES

  • “The Smile That Wins” (October 1931, American Magazine, aka “Adrian Mulliner, Detective”)
  • “From A Detective’s Notebook” (May 20, 1959, Punch, aka “Adrian Mulliner’s Greatest Triumph”)

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Rudyard Kennedy, with some additional info by Kevin Burton Smith. And a tip of the booby’s hat to Honoria Plum of Plumtopia.

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