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Mystery Monday Review – The Toff and the Deadly Parson

The Toff and the Deadly Parson by John Creasy

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


This 1944 thriller stars the series hero, The Toff, cockney slang for an aristocrat. The Toff, the Honorable Richard Rollison, employs a valet, the imperturbable Jolly, who has the PI skills of Paul Drake. Rolly has a tolerant view of bending the rules and tweaks the nose of Scotland Yard, but detests scoundrels who do harm by stealing from people who can least afford it, i.e. Rolly’s plain folk who live in the East End of London. And for that, the plain folk idolize him.

In the 12th of the 60 Toff novels, Rollison gets involved when one of his plain folks, Joe Craik, is framed for a murder. In his humiliation, Craik attempts to take his own life. Rollison figures that the way to clear Craik is to find the culprit.

Rollison also gets involved with a young Parson, new to the East End. The Parson is fired up about saving the folks from drink, gaming, and other vices. Rollison tries to tone down the parson’s activism. But Rollison and the parson run into a gang of malefactors that are bent on running the parson out of the district, even it means framing him for a murder.

Creasy jams a lot of action and machinations into a slim volume. Some plot turns are implausible as are the Toff’s open-handedness with funds and his Bruce Lee-like ability to defend himself. The plot unfolds rather confusingly near the end. Creasy is a good writer, if uneven, as he uses “said, sarcastically” and “said, quietly” and “said, patiently” often enough to begin jarring the reader, a tad. He’s a little old-fashioned with that quirk they had back then: avoiding using, “said” in favor of “demand” or “remonstrate” or “murmur.”




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