It would be hard to read all of John Creasey’s books in a lifetime, let alone write them. In a prolific career, Creasey averaged writing a novel roughly every three weeks for pretty much 40 years. A staggering achievement. Particularly given the consistently high quality of his fictional output.
Over a period of several years, I have read my way through two of Creasey’s most popular series, those featuring Roger West and George Gideon. Both are police procedurals; the Gideon books being written under the pseudonym J. J. Marric. The Roger West books number 43 in total; the Gideon books, 21. I haven’t read the books strictly in chronological order––particularly in the beginning, my choices were fairly random––but as I have read more books in each series, I have tended towards following the natural sequence of the stories, such that I find myself in the unusual position of reading the last books in each series––A Sharp Rise in Crime (West) and Gideon’s Drive (Gideon)––in the same week.
It is with a sense of genuine sadness that I reach the conclusion of both of these series of books. In both cases, the end of the series is not as a result of the death of the lead fictional character; more the death of their author––John Creasey died in 1973. Given Creasey’s prodigious output, it seems pure and simple greed to want him to have written more, but that is the situation where I am left.
I can’t be alone in my selfish desire. In fact, the Gideon stories were continued after Creasey’s death; William Vivian Butler took on the mantle to pen five additional novels but, good as they are, they tend to be slightly more ‘sensational’ than the Creasey originals, perhaps reflecting the changing public attitudes of the times in which they were written.
Trying to come to terms with being abandoned by my old fictional friends I have turned to a doctor for help. Don’t worry, I am not a medical emergency. The doctor I am consulting is Dr Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey. John Creasey wrote 34 Dr Palfrey novels; a series, which his son, Richard, has continued.
To date, I have read three Palfrey stories. It’s too early to call us friends, but we are well on the way to being more than just nodding acquaintances.
© Fergus Longfellow
Fergus Longfellow is forever on the lookout for new fictional friends.
If you’re looking for crime fiction, check out some of the titles published by Mudskipper Press.
[…] have already stated my appreciation of the works of John Creasey. Although not so many of his––hundreds of––books remain in print today, over the years […]
[…] It is a funny thing, there is something so rigid about the finite but, in terms of a defined term, it is a lot woollier than infinity. Infinity may not be quantifiable, but it is imaginable; the finite, on the other hand, can appear in so many different ‘guises that it defies recognition. If I had an infinite number of Inspector French stories at my disposal, I would tackle them with gusto; read them avidly with a reckless abandon. However, since I know that the Inspector French series is finite, I treat it with unnatural circumspection. For the first half-dozen or so books I may have galloped through their contents with little regard to the future but, as soon as I recognised that I was in the company of both a companionable but also an exhaustible friend, my behaviour has changed. I have started to slow up; have stopped reading novel after novel but, instead, have interjected a different author in between; attempting to delay the process; that awful moment when I reach the end of the series. […]