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Bookends: A Busy Day in the Life of a Scotland Yard Superintendent December 29, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: A Busy Day in the Life of a Scotland Yard Superintendent

By Dan Davidson

June 18, 2013

– 692 words –

 

Gideon’s Day

Gideon's Day

By John Creasey

As J.J. Marric

House of Stratus

216 pages

$16.50

 

Audiobook version

Audible

Read by Tim Bentinck

6 hours, 25 minutes

 

The police procedural is a pretty common format both in print and on television these days, though the current breed is more heavily influenced by the CSI model than by the older style Law and Order methods. It all had to start somewhere though, had to get past the murder mystery’s reliance on private and consulting detectives, the gifted wealthy amateurs with too much time on their hands, or the Robin Hood-like characters who somehow worked for real justice while breaking the law.

 

John Creasey had begun his career writing about freelance adventurers with code names like the Toff and the Baron, not quite legitimate fellows who might or might not cooperate with the authorities, but were on the side of the angels in the end. After nearly 20 years of success under his own name and as Anthony Morton (along with the 26 other pseudonyms he would use to produce more than 600 novels before his death in 1973) he decided to do something different; he decided to follow the life and work of Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent (later Commander) George Gideon.

 

Gideon is married, but his home life is a little shaky due to his extreme focus in his work. Unlike many later British police series, it would appear from this book that GG, as he is sometimes known, is aware of the problem and making attempts to do something about it. Gideon is presented to us a first rate investigator who is respected by both his subordinates and his superiors. His wrath is a thing to be dreaded and his approval much sought after. His unit runs like a well-oiled machine, and he cultivates good relations with the other branches of the police force, coordinating all their efforts from his office.

 

This book covers just one day in the life of the Criminal Investigation Division, a day during which Gideon has to deal with a corrupt subordinate, who is murdered just hours later; solve that murder and incidentally bring down a drug smuggling operation; protect the confidential informant (CI) who tipped him off to the bad egg in the CID; track down and capture a pedophile child killer; and foil a clever robbery at a major safe deposit business. In a touch of realism, there are a few loose threads at the end of the day, but enough successes to keep the unit’s record in the plus column.

 

While we spend most of our time with Gideon, Creasey also takes us into the inner workings of the criminals and, in one or two cases, the victims. We even spend time with Gideon’s CI, who is busily skulking about London trying to avoid the minions of Murphy’s Gang, who have been tasked by Chang, the drug smuggler, with tracking him down. Some of the cases are related to each other, but there are several that are unconnected to anything else going on in the novel, and these simply go to show the variety of things that Gideon has to juggle in the span of what turns out to be about a 16 hour day.

 

One of the things that surprised me about this book was how totally different it was in tone and style from the Toff book I reviewed here about a month ago. By the time I first encountered Creasey back in my high school days his books generally bore the “John Creasey, writing as (fill in pen name here)” cover copy, so I always knew who was writing the Toff, the Baron, Inspector West, Dr. Palfrey and other characters when I picked up the books. Comparing the “seat of the pants” adventure style of Richard Rollison’s (the Toff) stories with the down to earth, step by step narrative of the Gideon novels, I would never have connected the two series with the same writer had I not already known.

 

-30-

 

 

 

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