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Book reviews - Gideons River

Gideons River


Author: John Creasey (J. J. Marric)
The underworld inhabits the Thames, but Scotland Yard's finest detective is never far behind them . . . A dropped package puts him on the trail of an international diamond smuggling operation which uses the Port of London as its entry point. Further complications arise during a fantastic display of furs and jewels on the river, although danger comes from an unexpected quarter.

The Author: Born in Surrey, England in 1908, into a poor family as seventh of the nine children of Ruth and Joseph Creasey, John Creasey was educated at a Primary school in Fulham, London followed by Sloane School. He did not follow his father, who was a coach maker, but pursued various low-level careers working as a clerk, or in factories, and sales. His ambition was tobecome a full time writer, however, and by 1935 he had established himself thus, shortly after the publication of the first Department ‘Z’ novel, which in turn was three years after the appearance of his first crime novel ‘Seven Times Seven’.

From the outset, he was an astonishingly prolific and fast writer, and it was not unusual for him to have a score, or more, novels published in any one year. Because of this, he ended up writing in up to twenty eight pseudonyms, both male and female, once explaining that booksellers complained about him totally dominating the ‘C’ section in bookstores. They included:

Gordon Ashe, M E Cooke, Norman Deane, Robert Caine Frazer, Patrick Gill, Michael Halliday, Charles Hogarth, Brian Hope, Colin Hughes, Kyle Hunt, Abel Mann, Peter Manton, JJ Marric, Richard Martin, Rodney Mattheson, Anthony Morton and Jeremy York.

As well as crime, he wrote westerns, fantasy, historical fiction and standalone novels in many other genres. It is for crime, though, that he is best known, particularly the various detective ‘series’, including Gideon of Scotland Yard, The Baron, The Toff, and Inspector Roger West, although the many other characters and series should not be dismissed as secondary, as the likes of Department ‘Z’ and Dr. Palfrey have considerable followings amongst readers, as do many of the ‘one off’ titles, such as the historical novel Masters of Bow Street about the founding of the modern police force.

Indeed, with over five hundred books to his credit and worldwide sales approaching one hundred million, with translations into over twenty-five languages, it can be said with some degree of accuracy that from his humble beginnings Creasey grew up to be a true master storyteller and international sensation.

He travelled widely, promoting his books in places as far apart as Russia and Australia, and virtually commuted between the UK and USA, visiting in all some forty seven states.

As if this were not enough, Creasey was never one to sit still and in addition to travelling the world promoting his books, he also stood for Parliament several times as a Liberal in the 1940’s and 50’s, and later as an Independent Candidate throughout the 1960’s. In all of his political activity he showed himself to have a strong social conscience. In 1966, he also founded the ‘All Party Alliance’, which promoted the idea of government by a coalition of the best minds from across the political spectrum, as was also involved at various times with the National Savings movement; United Europe; various road safety campaigns, and famine relief.

In 1953, John Creasey founded the British Crime Writers’ Association, which to this day celebrates outstanding crime writing. He won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his novel Gideon’s Fire and in 1969 the ultimate Grand Master Award was bestowed upon him.

There have been many TV and big screen adaptations of his work, including major series centred upon Gideon, The Baron, Roger West and others. His stories are as compelling today as ever, with one of the major factors in his success being the ability to portray characters as living – his undoubted talent being to understand and observe accurately human behaviour.

Tags:
US publication: 1968
Detective: n/a
Genre: n/a