In thrillers of the twenties, there are remarkably few German villains around. Writers like John Buchan deliberately introduced “good” Germans into their stories, and others presented the Germans as misled by a few evil men.
An exception is The Return of Clubfoot (1922), by Valentine Williams. During the war, Williams had invented the character of Dr Adolf Grundt, head of the Kaiser’s secret service, whose plots had been foiled by the gallant English brothers, Francis and Desmond Okewood.
In 1922 (according to the serial in the Premier Magazine) Desmond Okewood was on a treasure hunt in the South Seas, and perhaps inevitably comes across his old enemy, “that giant, ape-like cripple” who had shot his brother Francis.
Things unfold at a cracking pace, particularly because there is a beautiful but headstrong young girl called Marjorie, who insists on joining the adventure but manages to get herself captured by the enemy. there is a very strong scene where she is told that if she does not reveal the whereabouts of the hero, she will be delivered over to a deformed black member of the crew, to do whatever he wishes with her. Williams is strong on deformities, and also on racial stereotypes; there is an “unsavoury-looking red-haired Jew with a scrubby auburn beard”, who also features in the story.
It’s all very reprehensible, but a remarkably fast-paced story.