John Creasey: Ten Authors in One
| The First of Many
| Simple Facts
| The Toff
Gideon of the Yard (as JJ Marric) | Department Z | Dr Palfrey
Patrick Dawlish (as Gordon Ashe) | As Jeremy York | Inspector West
Michael Fane and Dr Cellini | The Baron
Although John Creasey's first published book, Seven time Seven, has much in common with Department Z, on which his popularity was founded, The Death Miser was the first in the series, which continued with one or two new titles each year until The Black Spiders, which was written in 1957. This book was very close to the way the Dr Palfrey, or Z5, series was developing, and to the disappointment of many readers Creasey then virtually merged Department Z into the Palfreys which had become a form of science (Creasey preferred the word 'fantasy') fiction.
All of the Department Z stories have a common theme: that of espionage in Great Britain. The Department leader, Gordon Craigie, uses a surprising variety of patriotic and intrepid agents whose sole purpose is to guard the nation's interests. The early stories deal with the pre-World War II scene, and some of the books, notably The Mark of the Crescent, have proved to be startlingly prophetic. Here, Creasey used his deep interest in political and international affairs to show how he believed the Nazi-cum-Mussolini threat was developing, and he was almost undoubtedly right. His war-time Department Z books have a great 'feel' of the tension and the danger as well as day-to-day living under bombing and black-out, while the immediate post-war books in the series show an almost uncanny preview of the conditions prevailing today.
The main feature of the series, however, is the tremendous pace, the 'set pieces' of action being drawn so vividly that most readers virtually live through them as through an actual experience. When Arrow books began to re-issue the early books in paperback their enthusiastic reception by readers, both young and old, was immediate; and when John Long began, in 1965, to re-issue the titles in library editions, these had the same warm welcome.
All these publishers had been quick to realise that for loyal Creasey readers, as well as many new ones, there was a whole new source of the author's books. The final accolade, as it were, came when Popular Library in New York bought the series for first-time publication in the USA; more than 30 years after the original publication.
A Sunday Times reviewer once said that 'Department Z readers are as loyal as club members'. The membership of this particular club grows larger all the time.
|Original Title||First British Edition||First US edition|
|The Death Miser||1932||-|
|First Came a Murder*||1934||1972|
|Death Round the Corner*||1935||1972|
|The Mark of the Crescent*||1935||1972|
|Thunder in Europe*||1936||1972|
|The Terror Trap*||1936||1972|
|Carriers of Death*||1937||1972|
|Days of Danger*||1937||1972|
|Death Stands By*||1938||1972|
|Murder Must Wait*||1939||1972|
|Death by Night*||1940||1972|
|The Island of Peril||1941||-|
|Go Away Death||1942||-|
|The Day of Disaster||1942||-|
|Prepare for Action||1943||-|
|No Darker Crime||1943||-|
|The Peril Ahead||1945||-|
|The League of Dark Men||1947||-|
|The Department of Death||1949||-|
|The Enemy Within||1950||-|
|Dead or Alive||1951||-|
|A Kind of Prisoner||1954||-|
|The Black Spiders||1957||-|
* Paperback only in USA from Popular Library.