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
In the early days of World War II, John Creasey saw in the global nature of the war a theme for spy adventure stories which would help foster his ideal of 'one world'. So he created Dr Palfrey as the leader of an allied secret service whose members owed loyalty to the corporate body of Western Allies, not to an individual nation. These long (120,000 word) books were immediately enormously successful, and many believe them to be among the best spy stories written about that war.
Before the war ended, Creasey saw the chance of fostering his ideals - and the series - still further, by having Palfrey's Z5 organisation fight small but deadly groups of Nazi and Japanese forces holding out in mountain fastnesses. But this theme could not continue indefinitely, and with the dropping of the first atom bomb the author began to dwell on individuals who, with atomic (later nuclear) power or other all-powerful weapons, might dominate the world without needing vast armed forces. The House of the Bears was the first story to illustrate this.
Gradually, the Dr Palfrey series changed. Creasey began to use simple scientific facts as the bases for stories of great imaginative power and political vision. One of the most vivid of these was The Flood, in which appeared a tiny crustacean called octi, whose body-gas turned to water on contact with the air. Soon the whole world was threatened with flood water, whole cities, even whole nations, being submerged.
In this book, as indeed with most of the books in this series, Creasey makes a passionate plea for peace and understanding among men of all races. Every one of his Palfrey stories since 1947 has, in fact, been allegorical. The Flood, for instance, pointed out the dangers of propaganda; The Plague of Silence, those of censorship; The Sleep, those of the indifference of so many people to the evils about them.
But by far the most terrifying of all Creasey's allegories is The Famine, in which he 'created' a creature called lozi, a kind of rabbit with a nine-day gestation period and litters of up to 12 at a time. These he used in order to show how the population explosion, unless checked, could well bring about the end of civilisation as we know it: for in about 150 days the lozi multiplied so enormously that they almost ate man off the face of the Earth.
The Palfrey books, then, fall into two distinct periods. The later ones are increasingly popular in Britain and America; the earlier ones, reprinted in both paperback (Arrow) and library (John Long) editions, now have a great nostalgic appeal to older readers, as well as a historical fascination for younger readers, as the publishers Walker (hardcover), Lancer and Belmont found. The bridge between the two forms is, of course, Dr Palfrey himself, a man of great vision and high ideals, committed absolutely to the battle against the powers of evil.
The DR PALFREY SERIES contained 34 tiltes, the first published in 1942
|Original Title||First British Edition||First US Edition|
|The Perilous Country||1943||1972|
|The Legion of the Lost||1943||1974|
|The Hounds of Vengeance||1945||-|
|Death in the Rising Sun||1945||-|
|Shadow of Doom||1946||-|
|The House of the Bears||1947||-|
|Sons of Satan||1947||-|
|The Wings of Peace||1948||-|
|The Dawn of Darkness||1949||-|
|The League of Light||1949||-|
|The Man Who Shook the World||1950||-|
|The Prophet of Fire||1951||-|
|The Children of Hate* (US The Killers of Innocence)||1952||1971|
|The Touch of Death||1954||1969|
|The Mists of Fear||1955||-|
|The Plague of Silence||1958||1968|
|The Voiceless Ones||1973||1974|
* Changed for paperback reprint in England to The Children of Despair.