PAUL KILGERRIN

 
Full Name: Paul Kilgerrin
Nationality: American
Organization: Military Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Charles L. Leonard
Time Span: 1942 - 1951
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Paul Kilgerrin is a private investigator who is also an agent with Military Intelligence.
       Possibly based in California, though he yearns for the big city of New York on more than one occasion, and having been a private eye for nearly two decades, this hard-boiled, no-nonsense detective has little in the way of sense of humor and often even less social skills but when it comes to going undercover and getting the job done, he is superb. He has never been married and, although he has a fond eye for the ladies, he seldom gets close to any, with one exception. He does not seem bothered by his lack of companionship and would look at you strangely if you mentioned it.
       While his age is not mentioned, his history, mentioned in various places, would put him in his mid to late 40s. He served with distinction and valor during the First World War. Assuming him to be in his early 20s in 1917, the recorded adventures take place a quarter century later which would make him around 45. This is somewhat confirmed by the fact that he thinks on numerous occassions how many nasty situations he has managed to walk from and he speaks with voice of someone who has been there and done that and is a bit weary from it all.
       Kilgerrin gets shot and knifed and beaten a fair amount in the series and he does not bounce back easily from the injuries, making him a welcome change from the scores of near-supermen that sometimes grace the pages of spy fiction. He had suffered a very bad wound during WWI and took a long time recovering. As the series opens, he had just been involved in another gun battle and earned yet another injury. Though he had healed from both of those, his ability to shrug off new infirmaries is greatly tasked, giving an air of realism to the traumas.
       Kilgerrin did not go looking for work with Military Intelligence as a private consultant once the Second World War began. He tried several times to reactivate his commission but the injuries he had suffered at the end of the first kept the military from accepting him. When the head of the department for which he would eventually do so much of his clandestine work, Colonel Mathewson, ordered him to come for a visit, there was no love lost between the two. Mathewson did not private investigators and did not like the reputation Kilgerrin had earned as one - being a man who followed his own direction and often ignored the law if it was necessary. Kilgerrin on his part was miffed that Mathewson and his group had chosen to reject his offer of help only to then ask for it covertly. The first mission was filled with considerable tension as it took a while for each to warm to the other but the thaw did happen and they soon became extremely close to other.
       In many of the adventures helping Kilgerrin is Gerry Cordent, a female test pilot related by marriage to Mathewson and recently widowed when her husband died in a test flight. A lovely woman with beautiful copper-colored hair, Cordent is as brave as they come and willing to go more than the extra mile to help Kilgerrin and Mathewson. The two do not become romantically involved but rather quickly grow to enjoy a most rare relationship in spy fiction - a mutual respect and deep friendship.

Note: One fact that makes the Kilgerrin series so interesting is that he is most definitely a hard-boild detective with his own set of rules, willing to kill the bad guy without hestitation and suffering a great many physical attacks as he charges into deadly situation. He is truly a man's man when it comes to the rough stuff. The interesting fact is that Charles L. Leonard, the creator and writer, was really Mary Violet Heberden, a woman in her mid 30s when she started the series. Knowing it would not be well received if her gender was revealed, she kept it quiet for many years.

BOOKS

Number of Books:11
First Appearance:1942
Last Appearance:1951

1 Deadline For Destruction Deadline For Destruction
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1942

A series of sabotage attacks on important war factories along the East Coast has Military Intelligence stumped and several agents dead. With reluctance, the head of the department asks Paul Kilgerrin to find who is behind the destruction.

2 The Stolen Squadron The Stolen Squadron
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1942

Several brand new pursuit planes have gone missing along with their military pilots straight out of the factory. Kilgerrin is asked by Military Intelligence to go undercover to find out who is stealing them but Kilgerrin believes the direct approach is always the best, even if it can get him killed.

3 Assignment Death Assignment Death
aka The Fanatic Of Fez
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1943

With great reluctance, Kilgerrin agrees to go to North Africa to bring back an anti-American scientist with a procedure to turn coal into petroleum. If he cannot get him to come, he is to keep anyone else from getting him but the scientist disappears and Kilgerrin is but one of many looking.

4 The Secret Of The Spa The Secret Of The Spa
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1944

Still recovering from his near death in Morocco, Kilgerrin is asked again to help Military Intelligence, this time to stop a narcotics ring that is plaguing the war effort. Led by an evil genius with no compunction to killing, Kilgerrin's opponents are in far better shape than he is.

5 Expert In Murder Expert In Murder
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1945

Once again Kilgerrin is headed to North Africa at the behest of Military Intelligence, this time to find out about a new jihad that has started, brought about by a man who models himself after the Prophet and wants the same kind of control.

6 Pursuit In Peru Pursuit In Peru
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1946

The head of the Military Intelligence department he has helped in the past asks for Kilgerrin's help again as his daughter goes missing while vacationing in Peru. Murders abound as he tracks her down.

7 Search For A Scientist Search For A Scientist
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1947

A German physicist the American military would like working for them has gone missing while in France. Kilgerrin is dispatched to Marseilles to find him but what he finds is at least one other American agent already dead.

8 The Fourth Funeral The Fourth Funeral
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1948

This adventure sees Paul Kilgerrin in Brazil where he is wrapping up one case and preparing to leave Belem when a murder disrupts his plans. Forced to investigate, he finds a close-knit Anglo-American colony with more secrets than he knows what to do with.

9 Sinister Shelter Sinister Shelter
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1949

With a steady stream of illegal aliens flooding into the US, Kilgerrin is asked by the government to find out who is behind the human smuggling which is originating in South America and to put a stop to it.

10 Secrets For Sale Secrets For Sale
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1950

Someone at a luxury resort is behind the selling of plans for a radio-controlled weapons system and Kilgerrin is hired to track the person down and get the plans back before enemy agents get them.

11 Treachery In Trieste Treachery In Trieste
Written by Charles L. Leonard
Copyright: 1951

The death of other agents investigating weapons smuggling into Yugoslavia means that Military Intelligence must ask someone even meaner to take over the investigation, which means they ask Kilgerrin.

MY COMMENTS

       I am a huge fan of earlier spy series and this one, discovered long after I had become a fan, solidified my affection greatly. It is very well written and exciting, if you can ignore how gullible some of the lead antagonists can be. In more than one instance, the head baddie has fallen for Kilgerrin's bad guy act and welcomed him into the fold, only to find he had his worst enemy in his midst. Now, it could be that Kilgerrin is just that good an actor. Yeah, I think I will go with that one.
       Paul Kilgerrin is tough and strong and dependable and independent and suffers fools poorly. He is also fiercely loyal and would risk his own life for a friend with hardly a thought. At the same time, when needing to prove his "badness", he was ordered to kill a traitor to a bad gang and, knowing the intended victim was just as bad as his former teammates, put a bullet into him without blinking. Kilgerrin is a great friend and a dangerous enemy.
       The writing of the series is very much 40's with a lot of detective work going on by many of the characters and discussions about who and why and when. Interestingly, though, not much by Kilgerrin who usually takes a "kick the front door down and see who complains" approach. I like it.

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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