DEPARTMENT Z

 
Full Name: Department Z
Nationality: British
Organization: Department Z
Occupation Agency

Creator: John Creasey
Time Span: 1932 - 1957
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Department Z is a British Intelligence agency.
       In the early 1930's, the government of Great Britain knew it needed an organization that could help in the troubling international times ahead. War was brewing too quickly and spies and trouble-makers were everywhere. The official groups, such as the Special Branch, were equipped to handle the majority of cases but once in a while there were events too strange or too sensitive to leave to a group so well known.
       The answer was Department Z, an ultra-secret collection of 'civilians' who could work the dark alleys and back rooms without publicity. To head that hush-hush division, the government looked to Gordon Craigie.
       In the many years, before, during and after the Second World War, the men of Department Z fought the enemies of the Crown no matter where they were found. Be it the corridors of Whitehall, the mansions of the countryside, or the fields of foreign lands, the many dedicated men of Department Z served their country and their leader, Craigie, with distinction for a quarter century.
       Officially, the members of Department Z were civilians and therefore the government was able to deny much of their activity. Nevertheless, when the troubles came, the men could call upon many of the resources of the nation, secretly, of course.
       It was a solid rule throughout the life of the department that only single men need apply. Worried that the concern of a spouse or children might keep a man from giving a mission his all, Craigie followed the tenet of unattached only throughout. This included the forced retirement of his key agent, Jim Burke, as well as other, lesser known agents.
       When Pyramid and Arrow both elected to republish the books in paperback format, whether separately or as a concerted effort, John Creasey took the opportunity to modernize the stories somewhat. He indicated it was to smooth things out a bit but in the smoothing some changes were made and possibly an inconsistency or two snuck in. Nevertheless, the stories do not suffer.

BOOKS

Number of Books:28
First Appearance:1932
Last Appearance:1957

1 The Death Miser The Death Miser
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1932

The madman had visions of the death of millions, As he put his plan into motion, he had first to eliminate a few who could stop him but once the Death Miser picked his target, that person died. Revised in 1965.

2 Redhead Redhead
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1933

An American gangster wants to spread his criminal empire and decides to try in in England. Known as the Redhead, the mobster had no qualms about wholesale killing and had the manpower to pull it off. Revised in 1971.

3 Dead Or Alive Dead Or Alive
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1933

Originally it was about a search for a beautiful, dangerous German spy. Revised, it is about the search for a professor who has come up with a way to make nations invulnerable to atomic attack. Revised in 1969.

4 First Came A Murder First Came A Murder
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1934

A prominent British lord may possibly be a murderor and a traitor. Before risking a scandal, though, Department Z must find the truth without alerting anyone. Revised in 1967.

5 Death Round The Corner Death Round The Corner
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1935

Originally, Germany wants to break up an economic conference. Revised, the World Economic Conference in London was really created by a criminal genius as the first step in a plan for world domination. Revised in 1970.

6 The Mark Of Crescent The Mark Of Crescent
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1935

A madman with an addictive drug and a scheme to take over the country uses the Mark of the Crescent as a sign on orders to kill those in his way. Revised in 1967.

7 Thunder In Europe Thunder In Europe
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1936

He is called Krotz and he has an uncanny ability to hypnotically sway the minds of people he meets. Ruling a small Balkan region, he is using this power to increase his holdings and inflame the passions of those around him.

8 The Terror Trap The Terror Trap
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1936

A large, important British corporation sees its leaders violently killed one at a time. Since the nation's security could be affected, Craigie sends an agent to investigate. Revised in 1969.

9 Carriers Of Death Carriers Of Death
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1937

There is a scheme to get Britain and America at war with each other. Revised, the man Halloway is incredibly powerful and is using his power to get bring the whole world to war unless Department Z can stop him. Revised in 1968.

10 Days Of Danger Days Of Danger
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1937

Three men have a plan to steal the riches of Britain. Revised, the men don't care how many are killed as they pull off their ingenius heist. Craigie has only one cle - a diamone-shaped card. Revised in 1968.

11 Death Stands By Death Stands By
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1938

Someone in London kills an ambassador from Shovia to start a war with Britain. Craigie has the body hidden while one of his agents races to find the killer before a diplomatic catastrophy becomes an act of war. Revised in 1966.

12 Menace! Menace!
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1938

The princess from the small principality of Vallena is marked for murder. Revised, a man shows up at Department Z telling how a beautiful princess is in league with top diplomats around the world in a murder and blackmail scheme. Revised in 1971.

13 Murder Must Wait Murder Must Wait
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1939

A gang of international terrorists try to start a war off the coast of Estonia. Revised, the group is working in South America but doing the same nefarious activity. Revised in 1967.

14 Panic! Panic!
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1939

The group called the League of One-Hundred-and-One is demanding ransom or it will paralize every major city in Europe. The League had gained a reputation for ruthlessness so no one doubted their willingness to do it. Revised in 1969.

15 Death By Night Death By Night
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1940

With the blitz starting, during a blackout period the Foreign Minister disappears. Revised, murderers have been attacking during the darkest of nights without difficulty for they have the ability to see in the dark. Craigie and his team race to catch the killers and learn the technology. Revised in 1970.

16 The Island Of Peril The Island Of Peril
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1941

On an island, the Germans are perfecting a paralyzing gas. This gas would disable an infantry troop, a crew of a ship, or the pilots of aircraft. Department Z must steal the formula and keep the Germans from using it. Revised in 1968 but still set in the War.

17 Sabotage Sabotage
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1941

Even as it bears up under the German Blitz, England must tend with someone destroying their food supply and spreading leaflets talking about the upcoming starvation. Department Z is called into action. Revised in 1970.

18 Go Away Death Go Away Death
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1941

Originally, someone wants to break up the American-British solidarity. Revised, Department Z's second in command is determined to catch those putting a wedge between the U.S. and U.K. because he wants vengeance for the murder of his fiancee. Revised in 1967.

19 Prepare For Action Prepare For Action
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1942

The plans for the invasion of Europe have been leaked to the Germans. Craigie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the spy network and his plan starts with the assassination of the Prime Minister. Revised in 1966.

20 The Day Of Disaster The Day Of Disaster
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1942

A French refugee, washed up on the coast of England, has a tale to tell of a German plot to kill the British Prime Minister, possibly using people from within the government. This was revised in 1968.

21 No Darker Crime No Darker Crime
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1943

Origiannly, a plot to discredit and destroy the British Minister of Propaganda. Revised, the killing of his ex-fiancee prompts a member of the Ministry of Propaganda to join Department Z in a plan to destroy a gang of would-be world conquerors. Revised in 1969.

22 Dark Peril Dark Peril
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1944

Four key government officials are suddenly blinded. Then a threat comes in that the next victim will be the Prime Minister. Craigie and people have very little time to catch the terrorists. Revised in 1964.

23 The Peril Ahead The Peril Ahead
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1946

The professor had created a new, extremely potent form of explosive, dubbed T.N.25. Now he has been kidnapped and it is up to Department Z to find him and keep the culprits from getting the formula. Revised in 1964.

24 The League Of Dark Men The League Of Dark Men
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1947

To the highly secretive Council of Three, the idea of world peace was anathema as their chief income was arms dealing. As the U.N. was preparing to meet in England, the Council was preparing its own deadly welcome. Department Z had to stop the plot before peace was ruined forever. Revised in 1965.

25 Department Of Death Department Of Death
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1949

The First Congress of Europe was England's hope of easing the mistrust between nations. Someone in authority, however, is out to destroy that rapprochement and give Fascism another chance.

26 The Enemy Within The Enemy Within
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1950

Department Z, busily at work trying to put an end to the rapidly escalating numbers of Soviet agents infiltrating all of Europe, looks to be succeeding when suddenly everything starts to go wrong. It becomes clear to Craigie that there is a traitor in the organization.

27 A Kind Of Prisoner A Kind Of Prisoner
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1954

Department Z has been infiltrated and is about to be destroyed from the inside. Once loyal friends now begin to doubt each other. Unless Craigie can catch the super-spies, the agency is doomed.

28 The Black Spiders The Black Spiders
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1957

The tropical island nation of Canna, a member of the British Commonwealth, is up in arms. Rebellion is rampant, unrest the norm, and Department Z is sent to find out why.And then, of course, there are the deadly black spiders someone is using to kill off the opposition.

MY COMMENTS

       From its introduction in 1932 until the end of the war, Gordon Craigie and his Department Z faced on average two major crises a year, at least documented one. Considering the many other series that he was penning (Gideon, Inspector West, the Baron, Dr. Palfrey, Patrick Dawlish, the Toff - to name a few of the more famous ones) that isn't bad work.
       These books are highly enjoyable for several reasons. The times and the mores of the period are excellently captured in the words that Creasey wrote. The drive for freedom and preserving the British way of life is there in a wonderfully unabashed style. The bad guys are bad guys because they will do anything to wreck that culture. They never succeeded, either in real life or in the works of Creasey.
       On a completely different level, the books are interesting because, unlike just about every other spy series written, the cast of characters changed dramatically as the years went along and the change was intelligent and made sense.
       Throughout it all, Gordon Craigie was the leader and often he played a strong role in the destruction of the villains at the end. But the books were not about him. They were about the people who worked for him. And the stories worked. There was very little of the soap opera element in the transitions that took place. It was just life changing.
       One leading character dies. Another marries and is forced to resign. A third, highly important member is severely crippled and put out of action but comes back as a voice of experience. The department never stayed the same. And that worked.

GRADE

My Grade: B-

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