23 May 2024

Creasey’s Characters:
George Gideon of Scotland Yard

George Gideon Of Scotland Yard appears in 26 police procedurals. Written by Creasey under the pseudonym J.J. Marric, Gideon is physically big, strong and powerful, deliberate, stubborn, occasionally aggressive and monumentally single-minded. Despite his imposing size, he is calm and softly spoken. George Gideon is a committed family man and over the series he rises through the ranks of Scotland Yard. He is often known as ‘Gee-Gee’. He has an analytical brain, amazing recall of detail and a sense of fairness which is respected by colleagues and villains alike. He has an epic temper and is genuinely deeply in love with his wife, Kate.

“He himself (Gideon) was emotionally incapable of racial prejudice: to him, a man was simply a man. But many did feel such prejudice and there were times when bitterness of racial conflict reached an ugly crescendo.”

– Sport, Heat, & Scotland Yard: J.J. Marric’s Gideon of Scotland Yard by John Creasey (writing as J.J. Marric)

The Gideon books show a panoramic view of crimes from across London, the country and overseas. Sometimes Gideon dispatches his detectives to different counties to help in other investigations. There is a varied array of relatable fellow policemen, some likeable, some irritating, some good at their job, others less so, and one or two are corrupt. Many of these policeman sidekicks are returning characters such as Lemaitre, the chain smoking, hopelessly impulsive detective who likes to wear brightly coloured bowties, and Alec Hobbes, an upper class quietly controlled character. These two men both serve as Gideon’s second-in-command. Riddell, Cornish, Lemaitre, and Bell are also recurring close colleagues who report into Gideon.

Gideon spends a surprising amount of time reflecting on how to manage, coach, and mentor the best out of his team which feels fresh for crime procedurals of that era. He builds a culture where the team can take risks, speculate and speak up. Also, unusually, Gideon’s confidence does not prevent him reflecting on his own shortcomings. He knows that he is both slave and martyr to his job, that the department has come to depend too much on its commander. He feels the weight and burden of responsibility – for himself, his team, the Force and the Yard. He fears and feels failure, deeply.

Gideon’s family life is completely interwoven with his professional life. Gideon has a large family, three boys and three girls. In Gideon’s Fire (1961), Tom and Prudence are both in their twenties, married and living with spouses in homes of their own. Priscilla is 21. Matthew is 18 and about to go up to Cambridge (although an unplanned pregnancy looks as though it will prevent that), Penelope is 16 and Malcolm, the youngest, is 13.

Gideon and Kate lost a child in infancy. At the start of the series, grief has put a barrier between them. Kate resents George’s devotion to his work and feels neglected. She cannot forget that Gideon was not there when she needed him. Over the series they work through their problems and have a happy marriage, strengthened by shared struggles. In Gideon’s Fire Kate acknowledges that Gideon’s work is not just important, it is part of his very being:

‘”George,” Kate said quietly, “don’t ever let me try to stop you from doing what you have to do.”‘

– Kate to Gideon, Gideon’s Fire (1961)

George and Kate are partners in the modern sense and bring the dimension of a long marriage – with various bumps in the road negotiated and countless more ahead – to the crime procedural.

See the full list of Gideon titles here.