#93 – Redhead, John Creasey BOOK REVIEW

November 2, 2018
krauserpua

Redhead Creasey

Life Magazine are liars

I seem to recall saying something recently about having developed quite a tolerance for a new writer’s missteps if I think he has potential. There were a few lines about being a glutton for punishment too…… so, in that vein, let me talk a little about Kindle Unlimited.

I don’t trust any man who doesn’t read. Call it a prejudice, a bias, or whatever but when I hear people tell me they get all their information from YouTube or audio-books I’m immediately on guard. Writing is thinking, whereas speech is mostly rhetorical. You want to know the kind of people who ignore books and love speeches….. Jordan Peterson fans. Just look at the video.

Okay, I couldn’t find a video I liked of Peterson. As Vox Day very capably demonstrated in his dozen Darkstream takedowns of The Crazy Christ, Jordan Peterson fans are completely retarded. They literally don’t even read the man’s books. So Vox read both 12 Rules For Life and Maps Of Meaning and immediately figured out that Peterson is a charlatan, not at all well-read outside of his clinical psychology specialism [1], obscurantist, and mentally ill. As he’d say this on his live Darkstream, JBP’s idiot followers would come on and prove they hadn’t read him.

Why? Because JBP fans are the lowest of losers and can’t read. They soak up his tosh because they lack the clarity of mind and mental focus that is built by spending years of your life reading books. They are only half-evolved.

JBP is an extreme case. You get the same retarded behaviour with Joe Rogan fans, Richard Spencer fans, and of course our little world of pick-up has the same retards following YouTube game guys who spout obvious nonsense and the retards lap it up. RSD are the worst for that. It’s no coincidence that none of these guys are writing books [2]. If you want to make the most of your mind, you must read.

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I’ll be reading this soon

However, you probably shouldn’t start with Kindle Unlimited. It is notorious for the tripe on there. I’m lucky, however, because two genres I really enjoy are well-served. First, there is the WW2 memoir [3] popularised by Sven Hassel. Ten years ago I finished the fourteenth (and last) of his books and I was distraught – there were no more new books to read. So I went looking into his contemporaneous knock-off writers like Heinz Konsalik, Leo Kessler, and Wolf Kruger. Now that I’m on Kindle Unlimited I see that there’s a burgeoning sub-genre in WW2 Nazi memoirs of questionable historical integrity [4]

The other genre is hardboiled detective fiction. In this case, the quality is far higher because wily publishers are re-releasing entire series of previously-published, and often popular, paperbacks from the golden age of that genre. Thus all the Perry Masons are on there, as are the thirty Ed Noon books [5]. So now I have access to almost unlimited free books in my two favourite genres. Score.

Sadly, most of the modern stuff of KU is absolute tosh. Just have a look at the dross in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi sections on KU. If any readers know new writers doing genuinely good Conan-style fantasy or space marine / bad-ass Sci-Fi then let me know. And, God forbid, if you were to peruse into the Romance sub-sections…… holy shit!….

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The kind of KU book I won’t be reading

One place KU has sadly disappointed me is with John Creasey, my favourite high-speed hack writer of detective fiction. I love his Inspector West and his The Toff tales. Those were written from about ten years into his career, when he’d already learned far more about his craft than any ponderous fiction writer will ever learn. None of those are on Kindle Unlimited [6]. Instead, the only Creasey on KU are his Department Z spy novels. All thirty of that long-running series are on there but…… two problems.

First, it was his very first series, written from his mid-twenties onward. That makes the books immature and badly written compared to his Inspector West stuff. If I want to read Creasey for free, I don’t get the best Creasey.

Second, I find it impossible to join a series mid-way through. I’m starting at the beginning or not at all. “But Nick, why not just start at book #20 when he’s a better writer?” No, that’s not how my mind works. I’d find it physically painful to know there were nineteen other books laying out the groundwork that I’d so carelessly skipped over. I’m thorough and I like to beat around the bushes before I assault the citadel.

So despite reading the hopelessly bad The Death Miser as #1 in the Department Z series I felt strangely compelled to go through the second, Redhead. Creasey had me entranced like a snake looking at a mongoose. Fortunately for me, the second book is a big step up from the first. It doesn’t get boring until halfway through. So, what’s it about?

It’s the 1930s and two cousins, both amateur boxing champs in England, are visiting NYC. Local newspapermen, #FakeNews, print a made-up interview with them where they appear to challenge the gangsters. Said gangsters waylay them on a country road and shoot up their car with tommyguns, but fail to injure them. The lads flee the US by boarding a steamer but, a little amped up at having to run, they pick a beef with a big strong youth on board. He’s a ginger. There’s a hot girl on board too, who gets herself into trouble.

What follows is lots of carefree derring-do as an American gang under the leadership of the shadowy ‘Redhead’ try to take control of a cache of loot hidden in the cellar of a country house defended by an English gang run by ‘Zoeman’. It’s all nonsense. The girl is kidnapped a couple of times and all the young men risk life and limb to rescue her even though she isn’t fucking any of them. It had make-it-up-as-you-go-along plotting and no-one ever does the sensible thing at any time. Many of the leaps in logic made by the main characters make no sense at all, betraying then-young Creasey’s immaturity.

For all that, even in this early book it was clear Creasey was a natural writer. For all its many flaws, it was readable. Most interesting to me was the originality of the tone. Remember this was written in 1933 so it was before James Bond. The set-up is very close to Ian Fleming‘s work, having a London-based ‘M’ character, a line of secret agents with numbered code-names, and then detective-style stories laced with murderous action as the agent tries to infiltrate, identify, and then take down a criminal mastermind at the head of an international organisation.

It’s all fantastical and doesn’t aim at the realism of a Mr Moto or Matt Helm story. The gangsters in Department Z stories all shoot with the accuracy of Empire stormtroopers.

The set-up has me intrigued as I know Creasy becomes good. The question is how quickly does he become good? Kindle Unlimited has set up an intriguing race against time in which Creasy’s free Department Z books need to improve quicker than my patience with them wears out.

Who will win? It’s like taking a laxative and an Immodium at the same time.

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I wish RSD would take some

If you’re like to read a prolific author who started out a bit shit and soon became fantastically good, you might like to check out my product page here. It’s the best daygame material money can buy and way better than the tripe on YouTube [7]

[1] That wouldn’t be a bad thing, except his books are basically philosophy and mythology so you have to be well-read outside of his speciality, otherwise you’re faking it. Peterson hasn’t read the Western canon.
[2] Did any of them write a book? I can’t recall one but perhaps readers can fill me in. They certainly are predominantly working through the medium of video and speech.
[3] Or pretend-memoir, really. I don’t trust these things.
[4] It’s always Nazi tank-men. Never infantry or Luftwaffe, and never Japs, Brits, Yanks, or Reds.
[5] More on them in a later review.
[6] The bastards!
[7] Except Street Attraction. Alright there, Eddie? 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Related to [2]: RSD Jeffy has written a book, reads a fair amount of literature by all accounts, and is very good with words. But yeah I accept that RSD are mostly about the marketing vids and grabbing short attention spans. [I tried reading Get Laid Or Die Trying. Good on him writing it, but I couldn’t get into it. It was low-rent Bukowski. K.]

  2. i’m now convinced that nick krauser is vox day is nick krauser [That’s quite a compliment. K.]

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