Bulldog Drummond by H.C McNeile
Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond is an English gentleman, looking for adventure.
When the formidable Captain Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond places this newspaper advert, hungry for adventure after the end of the First World War, he embarks on a career as the invincible guardian of his country. His first reply comes from a beautiful young woman, who sends him to investigate what at first looks like blackmail but turns out to be far more complicated and dangerous. The rescue of a kidnapped millionaire, later found with his thumbs horribly mangled, leads Drummond to uncover a political conspiracy of awesome scope and villainy, masterminded by the ruthless Carl Peterson.
Originally published in 1920, Bulldog Drummond set the standard: as Ian Fleming himself confessed, James Bond was Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer from the waist down, but Bulldog Drummond from the waist up.