I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to the books I grab off random bookstore shelves, but apart from classics I’d been meaning to read for ages, the stuff I’m most likely to grab are thrillers from the golden age of crime fiction (I have a pretty wide definition of when the golden age of crime was, but I’d generally say it starts somewhere in the 20’s and ends in either the late sixties or early seventies. Your mileage may vary depending on taste, but that’s my wheelhouse.
The problem, of course, is that I’m no expert on the genre–I read it because I like it, so people like Lawrence Block are subject to curiosity (for those, like me before reading that one, who don’t know, he was a major figure in the crime genre).
Another one I had no idea about was John Creasey. The Cover of my old Pan paperback copy of his book A Case for Inspector West claimed that his sales (in 1961) exceeded 20 million… but I hadn’t read a single word he wrote.
I will likely not commit that error again. A Case for Inspector West is one of those books that goes so quickly and pleasantly that you end up wondering where the heck it went. It’s short, but not that short; the speed is because it’s a fun, well-written work.
Fun, in this case, is a relative term. You need to like to have people murdered in cold blood, front and center (no cozy-mystery off-camera murders for Mr. Creasey) to enjoy this one, and you also need to be rooting for the death penalty. This one was written in England in a time where murderers were hung.
If you’re OK with all that, then yeah, this one is a blast. It has everything you could want of a nice, ugly case of betrayal and counter-betrayal with a very satisfying body count.
One of the nice things about doing book reviews is that it’s one of the few instances in 21st century life in which you’re allowed to applaud violence and depravity without being criticized for it.
So yeah, Creasey gets two thumbs up from this former Creasey virgin, and I will be on the lookout for his stuff in the future.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine writer whose thriller Timeless is not lost in early sixties England, but is bang up-to-date and global in scope. Also, you can get an ebook, so there’s no need to hunt down an old Pan paperback. You can check it out here.