Baynard H. Kendrick Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

The first six of the thirteen Duncan Maclain novels have been described as “outstanding,” ranking with the best detective fiction done in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s by an American. Out of his personal experience working with blinded veterans, Baynard H. Kendrick created the character of Captain Duncan Maclain. Kendrick wanted to prove that the disadvantages associated with lack of sight could be overcome, and that the blind need not be treated as dependent children. Consequently, he deliberately placed his blind investigator in the most harrowing of situations. Maclain is not, however, superhuman in the mold of Ernest Bramah’s Max Carrados. Kendrick could invent puzzles and twisting plots as well as the best of his contemporaries, but his unique contribution is his portrait of a believable disabled person in a dangerous occupation. Kendrick was one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, served as its first president, and received the organization’s Grand Masters Award in 1967.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Haining, Peter. The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000. Many of Kendrick’s novels appeared during the pulp era, and this analysis of his fellow mystery writers’ magazine work provides context for his fiction.

Kendrick, Baynard. “It’s a Mystery to Me.” Writer 60 (September, 1947): 324-326. Kendrick discusses his own writing, as well as his tastes in the mysteries of other novelists.

Knight, Stephen Thomas. Crime Fiction, 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Looks at the basic detective novel and how it has diversified over the years. Provides insights into diversification by changing the character of the detective, such as Kendrick’s making the detective visually disabled.

Langman, Larry, and Daniel Finn. Guide to American Crime Films of the Forties and Fifties. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995. Several films were developed from Kendrick’s work, including Eyes in the Night (1942) from The Odor of Violets; The Hidden Eye (1945), based on his characters; and Bright Victory (1951) from Lights Out. This work examines similar films and mentions Kendrick.

Norden, Martin F. “Dimension of Blindness in Eyes in the Night.” Film Criticism 18/19, no. 3/1 (Spring, 1994): 46-59. An analysis of the film made from The Odor of Violets.

The Saturday Review of Literature. Review of The Last Express, by Baynard H. Kendrick. 16 (June 5, 1937): 16. Favorable review of this novel that introduces blind detective Captain Duncan Maclain.