17 June 2024

Where To Start Reading John Creasey

Fiction maestro John Creasey was and remains an enigma. He was one of the biggest selling and most prolific crime writers of the 20th century. Creasey wrote over 600 novels in both his own name and over 25 different pseudonyms.

Creasey’s popularity is as staggering as his output. At the peak of his commercial success Creasey was selling 4 million books a year in the UK and USA alone. Protagonists such as Gideon of Scotland Yard, The Baron and The Toff are lynchpins of British post war crime fiction, and several Creasey works were adapted for TV and fllm.

With such a large library of works, it can be a challenge to work out where to start! To help you decide, here are our top 15 titles which we think best reflect the breadth of work that Creasey produced.


Gideon’s Day (1955)

Gideon’s day is a busy one. He balances family commitments with solving a series of seemingly unrelated crimes from which a plot nonetheless evolves and a mystery is solved. One of the most senior officers within Scotland Yard, George Gideon’s crime solving abilities are in the finest traditions of London’s world famous police headquarters. His analytical brain and sense of fairness is respected by colleagues and villains alike.

Gideon’s Fire (1961)

Commander George Gideon of Scotland Yard has to deal successively with news of a mass murderer, a depraved maniac, and the deaths of a family in an arson attack on an old building south of the river. This leaves little time for the crisis developing at home.

Gideon’s Night (1957)

On this particular night Commander George Gideon has to deal with two psychopaths, who trail pain and blood in their wake. One targets infants, and the other young women on London’s foggy streets. There’s also an explosive gang war in the offing, and one way or another all of these cases come to their breathtaking conclusions at the same time. Can Scotland Yard’s finest deal with this nightmarish scenario, with what would ordinarily be months of time consuming police work, crammed into just one night?


The Famine (1967)

A plague of rabbits has hit the far east, eating up everything in sight and actually threatening populations with starvation. They continue to spread throughout the globe and fear, disease and death lie in their wake. Despite all of man’s technological advances, it seems nothing can be done to stop them. Dr Palfrey is a long way from a solution and it is not clear that even if one can be found it can be implemented in time. Meanwhile, the rabbits appear to be enjoying the destruction and bloody mess they leave behind.

The Flood (1956)

A Scottish scientist instigates a desperate search for a way to make it rain, to bring an end to fears of drought. But as his experiments become more and more successful, he sees a way of ending the cruelty he witnesses in the world with another global flood. The worst floods the world has ever seen begin to besiege the land and Dr Palfrey must find a solution, as well as the cause, and save mankind.

The Unbegotten (1971)

It was rural doctors who noticed first – there were no new pregnancies. Women were just not having babies. The human race is now experiencing a slow death as the population ages, but no babies are being born. Is the contraceptive pill to blame, or perhaps drinking water? Dr Palfrey and Z5 learn that the answer lies in outer space. Dr Palfrey must save the world from a megalomaniac alien takeover by ‘The Master’.


Meet the Baron (1937)

Lord Fauntley cannot help showing off both his daughter and the security under which his precious jewels are kept. Mannering finds himself attracted to both… Money is tight and so he plans a burglary, but this fails and unexpected consequences result. The relationship with Lorna Fauntley flourishes, and a series of high profile thefts and adventures ensure Mannering’s future, so he believes, until Lorna equates him with The Baron. One of the many further twists in this award winning novel occurs when the police appear to seek Mannering’s help, only to have everything turned upside down as the plot develops.

Shadow the Baron (1951)

John Mannering (The Baron) is called in by Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Bristow to help catch the mysterious jewel thief ‘The Shadow’. No one knows the thief’s identity, but he has managed to pull off many high profile robberies. However, as Mannering proceeds to track down the target, he finds the pursuer becomes the pursued.

The Baron and the Chinese Puzzle (1964)

John Mannering (The Baron) has always been fascinated by art. Though once a jewel thief, he is now a respectable Mayfair antiques dealer. So when a well-known Chinese dealer invites him to a unique exhibition of art treasures in Hong Kong, Manning’s interest is piqued – even more so when he realizes the extreme lengths someone is prepared to go to prevent him reaching his destination.


Introducing the Toff (1938)

While driving home from a cricket match in the countryside, the Honourable Richard Rollison (The Toff) happens upon an accident which quickly escalates into a dangerous mystery. What had been a pleasant day playing cricket becomes the start of a dangerous fight against cocaine rings, gangsters and the criminal empire of The Black Circle. Murder and suspense form the backdrop to a fast moving and exciting adventure.

Here Comes the Toff (1940)

Every social call brings Richard Rollison (The Toff) closer to death in this thriller that is dominated by characters from all ends of the spectrum. There is Renway, an ‘old school’ art buff who is far from being suited to Irma, a charming, witty woman who is guilty of more than one murder but always manages to get acquitted. In London’s East End, Charlie Wray’s smile is as dangerous as ever. As ‘The Toff’ leaves his calling cards the killer’s pace grows and his confidence with it. Can ‘The Toff’ escape death himself and at the same time unravel the mystery?

Accuse the Toff (1943)

The Toff is fighting for King and Country in the depths of the Second World War. But then a car hits a Commando as he walks down the street, and seven are left wounded or dying. All evidence points to the Toff as the perpetrator. From the East End of London to the wilds of Yorkshire in an RAF bomber, he finds himself engaged in a frantic race to prove his innocence and find the actual criminals. This is a tense adventure, dealing with social mismatches and violent crime whilst the war rages.


Inspector West Takes Charge (1942)

Extortion is the name of the game and the method is to murder anyone who might get in the way. ‘The Dreem’ factory and much else is at stake. Inspector West has to unravel it all at gun point, but not without difficulty and surprise.

The Case Against Paul Raeburn (1958)

Chief Inspector Roger West has been watching and waiting for over two years – he is determined to catch Paul Raeburn out. The millionaire racketeer may have made a mistake, following the killing of a small time crook. Can the ace detective triumph over the evil Raeburn in what are very difficult circumstances? This cannot be assumed as not everything, it would seem, is as simple as it first appears…

Look Three Ways at Murder (1964)

Once a murder is committed, the perpetrators have nothing to lose – they can murder again, although the chances of being caught rise, especially if Roger West is on their trail. But there are always three ways of viewing the crime: that of the hunter, the hunted, and the victim. A payroll robbery gives rise to one of John Creasey’s most enthralling novels within this popular series.

John Creasey once said that if he had to be judged by any single book he had written, he would choose this one.