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Full Name: Doctor Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey
Nationality: British
Organization: Z-5
Occupation Spymaster

Creator: John Creasey
Time Span: 1942 - 1979


Dr. Palfrey is the head of Z-5.

Few spies in the history of spy-fi have undergone such a fascinating series of transformations throughout the years as does Dr. Palfrey. As time passes and the character changes, the challenges facing him, his organization, and his country reflect many of the real life challenges that the author, John Creasey, saw facing humanity.

From a characteristic point of view, the changes make complete sense. A physician of some renown, especially in the area of tuberculosis, is lured into the service as a spy, a member of an elite multinational espionage organization fighting the Axis during WWII. As the missions continue, he gains confidence and moves up in rank until he is second in command by the end of the war. Not seeing a need for his talents as an agent, he returns to civilian life to resume work as a doctor but the world will not leave him alone. Several times he is drawn back into action but as an outsider these times. Eventually, he returns to Z-5 full times, now as its leader, fighting the newest enemies of freedom and stability.

However, another viewpoint that is just as valid and just as important is that of the challenges facing the character. Mr. Creasey saw many perils facing mankind and the planet and he used excessive natural phenomena usually aided by mad scientists to demonstrate the likely outcome. Massive floods from melting icecaps, horrible blights on grain crops resulting in mass starvation, parched earth with all livestock dieing, these are a few of the many laments heaped upon the world that Palfrey and his people had to combat.

The amazing thing about Mr. Creasey was that he didn't just present the danger of such cataclysms, he actually had them happen. Several times the island nation of Great Britain was practically wiped out and across the world tens of millions died. Abstract suffering was not the author's intent. He even went so far as to have tragedy strike close to home for the lead character, all to demonstrate the severity of the peril.

Heady books, these, and all with a delightful 'pulpish' feel to them.

Note: for those who seek and find the Palfrey adventures, one oddity must be known. While the first few books were written and published in the early 40's during the Second World War, most of the copies you are likely to find are reprints during the 60's and 70's. Prior to re-releasing them, Mr. Creasey revised them somewhat.

The stories are still very good, if not even better with some of the rough spots smoothed. The cost, however, is in the fact that books written during the war have the feel of being just after the war.


Number of Books:34
First Appearance:1942
Last Appearance:1979

1 Traitor's Doom Traitor's Doom
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1942

In the first adventure for Dr. Palfrey, he is approached because of his expertise in diseases which make him the perfect man to undertake a particular clandestine task. Joining Department Z-5, Palfrey helps root out a traitor.

2 The Legion Of The Lost The Legion Of The Lost
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1943

Doctors and scientists across Europe are being secreted away by the Nazis in concentration camps. Palfrey and Z-5 are determined to find as many as possible and get them out. Note this book was revised in 1965.

3 The Valley Of Fear The Valley Of Fear
aka The Perilous Country
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1943

Palfrey and his team travel to Yugoslavia to plug a leak in the resistance but just as they seem to have succeeded, they are themselves arrested as traitors. Note - apparently revised in 1966.

4 Dangerous Quest Dangerous Quest
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1944

Nazi war criminals are escaping justice by fleeing Germany, most through Finland. Palfrey and his good friend Andromovitch are determined to close the pipeline. Note this book was revised in 1965.

5 Death In The Rising Sun Death In The Rising Sun
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1945

Learning that many German leaders are fleeing Germany to hide in Japan, Palfrey decides to track them down by impersonating a German officer himself and heading into the middle of the enemy's camp.

6 The Hounds Of Vengeance The Hounds Of Vengeance
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1945

The war in Europe is finally over but many of those who lost are hungry to get back at the leaders who defeated them. Forming a group called the Hounds Of Vengeance, they are getting their revenge through killing and Palfrey's group must stop it.

7 The Shadow Of Doom The Shadow Of Doom
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1946

Once again a physician, retired from Z-5, Dr. Palfrey is charmed into investigating the disappearance of large amounts of radium, much needed in medicine. Soon he finds himself faced with a Black Market scheme that threatens the fragile stability of all of Europe.

8 The House Of The Bears The House Of The Bears
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1946

A requests comes for Palfrey to examine a corpse, killed in an odd manner. They find a woman lying on the floor indoors but dead from a great fall. This standard mystery is a bridge between the war years and the cold-war adventures.

9 Dark Harvest Dark Harvest
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1947

A young woman loses her memory in Seattle and wakes up in London believing herself someone else. Palfrey is the victim of an attempted assassination while playing in a cricket match. A former FBI agent is killed trying to get a message to Palfrey. Palfrey must find the connection.

10 The Wings Of Peace The Wings Of Peace
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1948

The mystic from India was purported to possess an ability to transmit images into the minds of his victims, either of a glorious heaven or a hideous hell, depending on the intent of the swami. Palfrey thinks the man's goal is to set India and Pakistan further against each other.

11 The Sons Of Satan The Sons Of Satan
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1948

As Bruce Mallen traveled back to Great Britain from South America, he shared the ocean liner with three strange gold-colored habited friars. He doesn't know it but he also has a small box that someone is smuggling in. Each of the friars also had such a box.

12 The Dawn Of Darkness The Dawn Of Darkness
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1949

The danger that Palfrey and Z5 must face comes in the form of a mad man with an plan to give justice to the Negro race by changing thousands into blacks and destroying those who cannot be altered. He has amassed a sizeable army of supporters and placed the United States in immediate peril.

13 The League Of Light The League Of Light
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1949

The young explorer claims to have found a city hidden deep within an aborigine island off Australia, a city that literally glowed at night from a radiation source that was as unknown as it was powerful. Palfrey is naturally interested but becomes even more so when someone tries to kill him.

14 The Man Who Shook The World The Man Who Shook The World
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1950

The tales of a Land of No Return sounded exotic but didn't pose any threat until six politicians from the West and two from the East each separately disappeared into this Land. Then five of the agents Palfrey sent in never returned and one who did was so mad that he had to be killed.

15 The Prophet Of Fire The Prophet Of Fire
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1951

A man of the cloth steals into Russia to begin the Movement that is bringing religion back to a starving nation. For several years he works in secret but now he is a hunted man, certain to die. Palfrey must get into the Soviet Union, locate the man in deep hiding, and get him out alive.

16 The Killers Of Innocense The Killers Of Innocense
aka The Children Of Hate, aka The Children Of Despair
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1952

The children at the daycare center were normal youngsters. Then they became drowsy, feverish, and then terribly ill. Slowly they came out of it but they were different. And they were under the command of a woman whose plan for control of the country rested with children under the age of ten.

17 The Touch Of Death The Touch Of Death
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1954

The man who discovered the remarkably pure uranium died shortly after touching it. Whoever had the misfortune to come in contact with it died very soon thereafter. The power of the mineral was tremendous but dangerous and someone has found out how to control it.

18 The Mists Of Fear The Mists Of Fear
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1955

The swirling mist comes suddenly and leaves just as quickly and people engulfed in this fog disappear. And the vanished are the sons and daughters of noted politicians, religious clergy, and other important people.

19 The Flood The Flood
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1956

The Scottish scientist had started out in a desperate search for a way to make it rain, thus ending the fear of drought. Soon, however, as his experiments became more and more successful, he saw a way of ending the cruelty he found in the world with another global flood.

20 The Plague Of Silence The Plague Of Silence
aka The Plague
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1958

The virus was carried by mosquitoes. After being infected, the patient suddenly lost the ability to speak, followed by a difficulty to breathe, ofter ending in death. The creator of this virus wants the governments of the world to disarm or he will see the virus unleashed across the world.

21 The Drought The Drought
aka Dry Spell
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1959

The rivers of the world are rapidly drying up and the ice pack in both poles is evaporating. All because of extensive nuclear testing. The drought results in the death of millions as vital water literally evaporates.

22 The Terror The Terror
aka The Return Of Dr. Palfrey
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1962

Dr. Palfrey and Z-5 return with another adventure but now it is part of a newly created world peace organization known as the Supreme International Body. Z-5 is the intelligence branch of that group. The Terror is a nuclear missile heading to London from outer space!

23 The Depths The Depths
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1963

Something is afoot as a large number of brilliant scientists, athletes, and other leaders of their profession are suddenly missing. Someone is building a perfect society beneath the surface of the ocean. Now Palfrey and team work for the U.N.

24 The Sleep! The Sleep!
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1964

A deadly madman out to take over the world is at work with The Sleep. First one man, then several, then an entire village in Rhodesia. Healthy people suddenly falling into a coma from which they simply do not wake up. Z-5 must find a cure before the crazy leader makes his next attack.

25 The Inferno The Inferno
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1965

A small campfire suddenly erupt into a blaze and within minutes consumes two campers and then eradicates the entire forest with an unbelievable heat? As Palfrey was putting his Z5 people onto the case, a madman demands Palfrey resign or thousands would die.

26 The Famine The Famine
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1967

Calling them the Lozi made them sound more like the extremely dangerous creatures they were than just calling them large hungry rabbits. They were both and they were multiplying, destroying the crops much as locusts but with the ability to break into storage bins creating world-wide starvation.

27 The Blight The Blight
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1968

The region of Oregon known as Christmas Valley was a much loved vacation spot as well as the source for countless trees during the Holiday season. Now the trees are snapping like twigs from an infection that could decimate not just this land but trees all over the planet.

28 The Oasis The Oasis
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1969

The drug called Dio was truly a wonder drug for the aged because it could miraculously make the old young and the weak strong. It could also, however, make the takers of the medicine totally under the control of a mad man who would use the dreams of the less mighty to make himself strong.

29 The Smog The Smog
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1970

The smog came descending on the village like any other fog but it stayed longer and left far greater devastation. Hundreds were dead. At first the thought was that it came from a nearby power plant but that proved was not the case. Z5 must discover the origin before it moves into other regions.

30 The Unbegotten The Unbegotten
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1971

It was rural doctors who noticed first. There were no new pregnancies. Women were just not having babies. Was it the pill? Was it in the drinking water? These answers were all wrong but a lot more believable than the mystery that Palfrey and Z5 began to uncover. The answer lay in outer space.

31 The Insulators The Insulators
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1972

The dream of silence from the constant hum of society, from traffic, factories, sirens, and the like, would be considered a blessing by most people. But was this silence worth the demand of total obedience to a mad man?

32 The Voiceless Ones The Voiceless Ones
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1973

The victims were prominent men from around the world, left them unable to speak. Then students at a prominent girls school get the sickness, fall silent, and then die. The demand from the perpetrator is different than Palfrey had ever heard.

33 The Thunder Maker The Thunder Maker
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1976

Thor was the mythical god of thunder of the Vikings. Now he seems to be alive and well and living in Britain. Wiltshire, to be specific. And he has enlisted the aid of a wealthy landowner there to recreate Valhalla on Earth.

34 The Whirlwind The Whirlwind
Written by John Creasey
Copyright: 1979

The most destruction force the weather can produce is the tornado. What if someone was able to create them at will? And what if that someone could even control their path? Palfrey knows he is facing one of his most potent opponents.


Wow! Where should I begin?

I've always been a fan of John Creasey. He had the ability to steal ideas from the best and mold them until they were uniquely his. The Baron was clearly a clone of the Saint but it held its own nicely. The Toff was an answer, I believe, to Lord Peter Wimsey, but I actually enjoy Toff books better than the Wimsey ones. The list could continue. But Creasey did take these imitative ideas and give them his own breath. And he did so while writing over 600 of them!!!

From a spy-fi point of view, however, the Palfrey series is a mixed bag. The first few are certainly belonging in the genre - the last few not so much. Still, some belong, the series belongs, and if you are interested in social and environmental issues, these books are worth the time.


My Grade: B

Your Average Grade:   A+


David A+ 4/19/2014 11:14:56 PM

Well, true they are not spy novels per se, though there are madmen threatening the world in most of them at the least in the Fu Manchu tradition and it is a secret organization. I do like the character of Palfrey who can give M lessons in ruthlessness when needed. Granted you have to admire how resilient the planet is since it is nearly destroyed in several books yet back in order in the next, but New York survived all the Spider's apocalypses so I can't really complain too much. These are the most personal of Creasey's books in regard to his strong political ideas (he formed his own party and ran for office) and in many ways his most humane. He always seemed to put a little more of himself into the Palfrey books.

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