This review isn’t really about the novel but about John Creasey, a prolific author of 562 books!
I was first introduced to John Creasey (and his various pseudonyms) by my Dad when I was a young teenager. I’d grown out of children’s books but wasn’t really ready for adult books and there was no such thing as young adult fiction in the mid-1970s. I’d read every Agatha Christie I could lay my hands on, polished off all the Leslie Charteris the local library had in stock and was at a bit of a loose end. The Baron and the Toff series came along at the exactly the right time and I have collected most of both series since that time.
The books were written between the late 1930s and late 1970s and are dated and sexist in a similar way to the Saint novels of Charteris. Unlike Charteris, however, the women are not always damsels in distress in need of rescuing. In fact John Mannering’s wife is a partner in a lot of the later stories. Both The Toff and The Baron are similar in many ways to The Saint. They use the skills of criminals to bring justice and retribution to people the Police can’t touch. And they often work with a tame detective who had previously been trying to bring them down.
The books are short and perfect for those times when you want something to read that isn’t too taxing – they are a definite improvement on daytime TV when you’re slumped on the sofa feeling poorly! But you don’t want to read too many of them in one sitting or you realise just how formulaic they are.
What interests me is just why The Saint books remain so popular when the John Creasey ones have fallen out of fashion? They are no better written, no less formulaic and clichéd yet they seem to have endured. My guess is it’s down to the lovely, late Roger Moore.
May be I should start a campaign to get some of the John Creasey’s reissued?