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Full Name: Bruce Murdoch
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: John Creasey
Time Span: 1939 - 1942


Bruce Murdoch is an agent with the British Intelligence.

He is considered by most the people who know him to be an earnest but still "young" man though he is 28 years old when the six-adventure series begins, hardly really young. Perhaps it is because, based on the scanty information provided, he apparently has done nothing really before he is offered a chance to perform a useful role in society by becoming an operative.

Idle is a good word for his lifestyle prior to his new career. He is obviously well-off because he has no, and apparently never has had, employment and yet he lives very nicely and comfortably and even has his own batsman, an irascible fellow known as Briggs who was in the vicinity needing a job when a 21-year old Murdoch had a few too many and got into a tight spot. They have been friends and companions ever since.

It is not disclosed what prompted Murdoch, living the easy life, to get serious and make a difference but he did and he is to be commended for that. When he is approached by Sir Robert Holt and offered a 5-year contract to act as a secret agent, he quickly agreed. Apparently he did not mention this to Briggs but somehow soon thereafter, Briggs comes on board as well.

A brief note about Holt is warranted. He is a fairly short, quite rotund individual who is bald and has a pinkish tint to his complexion all over his hairless head. This is of interest since because of it he is affectionately referred to by his agents as the "Pick 'Un". I mean, a lot. It is almost a password. And he does not seem to mind.

One enjoyable aspect to Murdoch's new vocation is his newness. He is definitely smart and quick-witted and eager to succeed but he is also just starting at this and he does make a few mistakes, a couple which nearly kill him. Luckily his innate skills help out as does Briggs and a few other agents.

That includes the lovely and far more experienced Mary Dell. Unlike Murdoch, she is not new to the business and she has skills that continue to impress and delight Murdoch as they become enchanted with each other and soon become an item. Murdoch is an obvious fan of adventure but he pales compared to Dell who has little qualms about, well, anything. She is also quite brilliant and has an invention or two under a pseudonym. How and why she became an agent remains unknown but she is one of the Service's best.

A good agent needs a good nemesis and Murdoch and Dell would acquire one halfway through the series when they come up against the "Withered Man", a foe who would be their target for two cases and then their stalker for one. An interesting foe is the Withered Man.


Number of Books:6
First Appearance:1939
Last Appearance:1942

1 Secret Errand Secret Errand
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1939

The beautiful and seductive Felice is an entertainer who has London at her feet. She is also an agent for the Ring, a group dedicated to destroying democracies. Bruce Murdoch is sent on his first solo mission to become the latest paramour of Felice and find out what she is next planning.

2 Dangerous Journey Dangerous Journey
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1939

Kurt von Romain is a German operative who has gotten his hands on British plans to convince smaller European nations into hosting weapons caches for the upcoming war. It is the job of Bruce Murdoch and Mary Dell to delay him from handing those plans over without him knowing the delaying is taking place.

3 Unknown Mission Unknown Mission
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1940

Bruce Murdoch and Mary Dell are posing as newlyweds in a pleasant European hotel retreat but their real goal is to uncover a thief while helping maintain the cover of a spy who is trying to stop the Germans from turning smaller nations to their side.

4 The Withered Man The Withered Man
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1940

The word flows that "wherever the Withered Man appears, the Nazis strike next." Reports of sightings of that individual state that he is in London. Bruce Murdoch and Mary Dell are asked to search for him on the very day they were going to get married.

5 I Am The Withered Man I Am The Withered Man
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1941

In all the world, the two people that the legendary Withered Man hated most of all is Bruce Murdoch and Mary Dell. Sitting in the German mountains with his anger, he receives a visitor who tells him of a chance for revenge.

6 Where Is The Withered Man Where Is The Withered Man
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1942

He was thought dead but Bruce Murdoch and Mary Dell are certain otherwise. Now they are determined to find him and end his danger for good but the Withered Man, a man who used Hitler's plans for his own aims, is waiting for them.


At first I was not sure what to make of young Bruce Murdoch (well, young as far as some of the elder characters thought but hardly young at 28). Had he been, say, 18, and was as eager to do good but prone to mess up, I might have understood him better. At 28 he seemed a bit too old to be so young. I kept forgetting that for time in which he lived and the obvious pampered style he was raised, it made more sense. Still, it was a bit irksome.

Not so with Mary Dell who was wonderfully older than her years. I don't think the author quite knew how to handle her (certainly Murdoch had his troubles in that department) and I am not sure if the absences her had were because the author was concentrating on Murdoch and leaving her out or because he purposefully left her to work in the background. Regardless, she seemed to show up at the right time and save the day. Handy lady, our Ms. Dell.

Creasey was a conservative who sensed the coming troubles at a time when many of his countrymen wanted desparately things to "work out" and he does a very good job portraying those working in the background to fight the fight that was coming while many in power seemed determined to undermine the effort. The lead spymaster is particularly vexed by his contemporaries' "don't make waves" mentality. He was considered then as well as later by many as a hawk pushing war over diplomacy. History has shown him to be right. Appeasement was not the answer.

For that reason more than Murdoch (or even Dell), the books are interesting reads.


My Grade: B+


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