Peter Cheyney was born in 1896 in Whitechapel in London's East End - but it was not until 1938 that he began to write novels. He died in 1951 but in that short writing period he produced quite a number of books and short stories.
Cheyney wrote at a time when PC stood for (apart from his initials) Police Constable.
The interesting thing that I find with Peter Cheyney was that he wrote in different styles. Lemmy Caution is a tough G-Man with an eye for the ladies and a voice of his own. Told in the first person the story is told with a fast, slick patter.
'Slim' Callaghan on the other hand comes across with a liesurely pace as the English private detective solves the problem.
The tone of the 'Dark' novels is stark and, as the titles imply, dark.
'DARK WANTON' is the setting for a story set just after the Second World War and the Secret Service has 'mislaid' two lists of German war criminals. Peter Everard Quayle is the head of the Department concerned and he was responsible for the compilation of the list. Instead of handing the job over to one of his agents he decides to call in a group of people who had operated behind enemy lines during the war.
Michael Frewin appears to be too dapper and a bit of a fop. He is Quayle's second in command - but outward appearances are deceptive for he is a cold blooded killer.
Antoinette Brown, known as the Practical Virgin - elegant, sexy and not interested in men - but she is a problem solver. Her task is to recruit Aurora Francis, former agent and ex-girlfriend of the agent that Quayle wants to draw back to the organisation.
The former agent is Anthony Keirnan - a sauve debonair chap who has hidden depths.
Peter Cheyney fills the book with secondary characters - some who die while others pass through and leave their mark.
The final revelation does come as a surprise.
There is something about the Dark books that suggest the natural successor would have been James Bond.
Cheyney died in 1951 - James Bond arrived in 1952.