Death Around The Corner…. is it worth a buy? Let’s read the words, the words, of the publisher:
Leopold Gorman studies the World Economic Conference with interest – and then picks five rich and powerful men to bring his plan to fruition.
If any one of them show reluctance to fall in with his scheme, he’ll be dead within the hour.
Gordon Craigie, Chief of British Intelligence, is the only thing standing between Gorman and success. So Gorman turns his attentions to Craigie’s greatest asset, the men of Department Z.
As Craigie attempts to undermine Gorman’s plot, Gorman decides which agent should be next to “disappear”… Can Craigie and his men outwit this master criminal before it’s too late?
You’re all aware that I’ve been in a struggle recently, the nature of which would strike fear into the heart of a lesser man. Namely, can I gather my courage and successfully plod through John Creasey’s early Department Z novels until they finally become good? I still have no idea why I took on this challenge but there it is. I’m glad to report that the fourth such book, Death Round The Corner, is the best so far and comes quite close to being decent. I’d even go so far as to say I enjoyed reading it.
It lacks the crisp punch of Elmore Leonard, the deft plotting of Erle Stanley Gardner, or the historical insight of J. D. Davies. But it also lacks the long stretches of boredom of Redhead and the ludicrous developments of The Death Miser. It’s…. okay. Creasey is honing his craft quickly, with all these books being written in a twelve month period.
I’ve now realised that Department Z has set its stall out into a recurring formula. Rather than pick a single spy and stick with him, Creasey is using the Department and the tone as the only constants. Each of the four novels so far feature an entirely different cast, Department Z’s leader Gordon Craigie notwithstanding. This time around the hero is Tony Beresford, a big strapping young lad of upper class background with a few other chums in the service. There’s a shadowy financier called
Jacob Rothschild Leopold Gorman who has create an equally shadowy cartel of international financiers like Emmanuel Macron  with a Five Year Plan to buy up strategic companies so as to corner the market in food and energy, in order to….. well, I don’t know. Their endgame isn’t explained, but Creasey assures us it’s nefarious.
They probably intend to set up some kind of supranational undemocratic institution that seeks to tyrannise the populations of Europe with communism and authoritarianism while stealing all their money and corrupting the national governments to betray their own populations. This Union Europa sounds a bit far-fetched, to be frank.
Craigie sets Beresford to investigate Gorman, trying to figure out just what he’s up to while Gorman simultaneously decides to have Beresford murdered. Apparently Gorman has surreptitiously iced a few Department Z agents already and Craigie hasn’t spotted the pattern. It’s not explained why Gorman would risk stirring up the ire of Britain’s premier Secret Service at a time when his planning is all otherwise legal. Now that I think about it, very little of the set-up to Death Round The Corner makes sense.
What does make sense is the plot. Once the ball gets rolling the characters all act with reasonable logic in accordance to their aims and abilities. It all hinges on a blustering fool called Major Odell who has a fancy for a slutty young chorus girl called Adel Fayne, who is run by a shifty Jewish manager Solly Lewistein , who is blackmailed by Gorman. Odell makes a suspicious trip to Paris and when Department Z try to figure out why, all kinds of shit hits the fan.
Look, I know you don’t care about the plot. I didn’t care about it either. It’s a nice bit of cops’n’robbers with an espionage flavour, wrapped up in 1930s London and Paris. It’s primarily this latter fact that kept me interested. When Creasey was writing, this was a modern, contemporary spy thriller. When I’m reading, it’s a period piece transporting me back to the 1930s. It’s that authentic picture of (fictional underworld espionage) Britain that entertained me. Everything is a little different: the cars are open top, the Air France plane flies out of some tiny pre-Heathrow airport, the chorus girls can’t get their tits out  and it seems every single person in England is either a toff, a copper, or a guttersnipe .
There’s very little to say about this book. I rattled through it in a day and I’ve almost forgotten it already. All that matters is I’m still on the Creasey Challenge and I’ll be reading the fifth Department Z book presently.
If you are wondering why Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite stand apart as by far the best books on pick-up ever written, you just need buy me a beer and I’ll explain at quite some length. If you’d rather avoid that, just buy them here.
 Incredibly, no Jews. But then again, this is fiction.
 Don’t worry, the dirty Jew gets knifed in the neck before he can corrupt the white girl.
 Unlike dirty Meg, who only needs a few quid. DING! DING!
 Add in rich Arabs, and that’s like Mayfair now.