|Books 1 and 3|
John Gardner is an author I have never previously read. He died in 2007 after a writing career that spanned over 50 novels, mainly in the thriller/spy genre. He is probably best known for his series of James Bond continuation novels from the early 80’s, eventually penning more of them than Ian Fleming.
His first published book was The Liquidator in 1964, which introduced the cowardly Boysie Oakes to the public. Liquidator was followed by Understrike and a further 6 novels in the series which eventually finished in the mid-70’s.
A site I like to visit from time to time,
Spy Guys and Gals is informative, not just about Gardner and Oakes but all things concerned with this genre.
Well worth a visit if you need any hints on what to read next in this field.
Randall will look after you.
Oakes is a reluctant agent, as Randall from Spy Guys and Gals site explains......
|Books 1 and 3|
"Boysie Oakes is an assassin for British Intelligence.
Imagine that you are THE assassin for the British government. You are responsible for the deaths of dozens of enemies of the state. You are feared by both the enemies and your own people.
Also imagine that you are deathly afraid of flying, the sight of blood makes you queasy, you have to hire a gangster to do the actual wet work, and you are scared to death that someone may catch on.
That is state of affairs for John Gardner's amazing Boysie Oakes!
Mostyn, deputy director of British Intelligence, had his first encounter with Oakes in the summer of 1944. He was working undercover in the back streets of Paris during the British repatriation when he was attacked by two Nazi operatives determined to eliminate him. Completely at a loss, he called out for help to a man who was running down the same alley.
This man, a sergeant in the tank corps, unflinchingly pulls his Colt automatic and in two swift shots kills both assailants. It was then that Mostyn noticed something even more remarkable than the man's daring or his aim. It was the man's ice cold eyes that were so filled with satisfaction at a job well done.
Years later, Mostyn was at hand when his boss came to the conclusion that what the British Secret Service desperately needed was a ruthless killing arm that could strike out at enemies, foreign and domestic, that were both a danger to the Empire and were outside its ability to handle via normal means.
They needed one man, an expert marksman with a total lack of compunction about killing. Mostyn was tasked with finding that man.
By chance, Mostyn glimpses a newspaper article about a murder of a proprietor of the Bird Sanctuary Café and Aviary. Along with the article was a picture of the deceased's partner what had just been grilled by the authorities and was being released for lack of evidence. The partner was Mostyn's savior from the war. And just the man Mostyn needed to save the Empire!
The problem with this scenario, however, is that Mostyn totally misread Oakes' demeanor and his behavior. Oakes is no cold-hearted killer with nerves of steel. He is a fraud who allows himself to be talked into joining the Department of Special Security because the money sounded good and the chance for woman was appealing. But as for killing, or worse, being killed, Oakes has no interest. If, however, he tells the truth, he will be fired and all the nice percs will go away.
So Oakes begins the deception and as he succeeds more and more, the truth becomes harder to reveal or remember."
With one of my personal reading challenges for next year an Espionage event. I intend to read at least the first Boysie book in 2014. With its publication from the early 60's, I should be able to knock of one of the slots on my bingo card for the Vintage Silver challenge I'm also undertaking.
Hand-picked for his talents by Mostyn, the suave, sadistic Second-in-Command of British Special Security, Boysie Oakes's job is to quietly murder potential Top Secret security risks. But is Boysie the right man for the job? On the surface, he has all the right qualifications. And yet, behind that smooth surface, there are some strange discrepancies. Things begin to go wrong for Boysie when he takes Mostyn's secretary to the Cote d'Azur for a naughty weekend. What starts as a few days of seduction in the Mediterranean sun turns into a nightmare for Boysie as he becomes more and more embroiled in Operation Coronet.
It was no secret that secret agent Boysie Oakes' personal mission in life was women. But the young ladies at Klara Thirel's school were too much even for him. They were as deadly as they were beautiful. For the school specialized in the arts... the arts of killing, torturing, maiming. Naturally seduction was a required course. Male enemy agents were their favorite prey and these girls certainly knew how to get the most out of a man. Particularly a man like Boysie Oakes...
2 more from the library shelves next week.
Col, this is a great beginning to your espionage fiction challenge. I read John Gardner novels years ago, so this was like "Knock, knock!" "Who's there?" "It's John Gardner again." Thanks for the reminder, Col. I don't recall reading his "James Bond" novels though I've read the "Professor Moriarty" books, a continuation of Conan Doyle's villain.ReplyDelete
Prashant thanks. I'll steer clear of his Bonds and his Moriarty's. I never really was a great fan of Holmes and Conan Doyle, granted these don't feature the great Holmes himself. I read ACD when I was a teenager.Delete
Col, I know what you mean by steering clear of his Bond and Moriarty novels. I like to read about an author's original characters and plots. I also usually prefer standalone novels rather than a series. My daughter picked up the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes which, I think, includes some of his novels and many short stories. I hope to read it next year.Delete
I think there might be something in that remark regarding the marketing and "hijacking" of characters. How many Bond authors have there been now?Delete
Everyone's doing it - Bourne lives on with Van Lustbader, even Poirot's is coming back (from beyond the grave!)
Eric Van Lustbader is another blast from the past. I know I've read him, only don't remember which ones. Popular culture will always have imitations, some good, some not so good. I think Jane Austen has been a victim too. I have come across a couple of paperbacks by Australian writer and musician Charles Osborne who was officially allowed to novelise Agatha Christie's plays including "Black Coffee" which, I think, my wife has in her collection. Imitation is the best form of flattery, or books sales.Delete
I may have read one of Van Lustbader's but I'm grasping here - I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I did also used to like David Morrell as a thriller writer, I still have his books but haven't read one in a while.Delete
I think I will be avoiding Jane Austen both the original and any copycats - I'm not going to be discovering old classics at this time of life.
Hopefully I will read one or two Christie's at some point and that will be enough for me.
Col, I don't know anything about David Morrell, but now I do. I like reading Classics and had planned on reading at least one by a different author every month. So far I've read only two this year. Hardy, Defoe, and Wharton are some of my favourites. Hardy and Wharton can get behind the skin of their characters. I'm reading Christie chronologically though I don't review her books; too common.Delete
Morrell actually wrote Rambo, albeit it was under a different title - First Blood. The book predates the film by Stallone. A really excellent book - I did actually enjoy the film as well. In the book, Rambo dies.....but miraculously makes and comeback in subsequent books and a whole series of films, though in the first film he obviously doesn't die.Delete
Morrell has a few short series books and some standalones which you would probably like.
Prashant - I kind of think reading classics would be like a return to school and swatting up for English Literature exams. I wish you well on your quest, but I'm far too shallow to follow you down this path.Delete
Not much of a path, Col, since I have been defaulting on reading of the Classics. I can't think of Rambo dying in the film. It'd be like Rocky losing in the ring. I liked "First Blood" though not the sequels that followed. Brian Dennehy was terrific. I'll look for the book by David Morrell.Delete
Dennehy was superb, I only ever saw the first film.Delete
I do like the Rocky films and my girls love them as well - "Adrian, I love you, Adrian!" Got to love Stallone.
I have thought about trying the Boysie Oakes series also. It will be good to see what you think of them. I have read the first book in a more recent series: Bottled Spider, set in World War II.ReplyDelete
Oh dear....I just looked up Bottled Spider - 1st in a series of 5, interesting setting.....no I just can't. I will see how you get on first.Delete
Back to McCarry - I was online checking the chronology of PC and the cousins etc - there's actually another book which involves his ancestors - The Bride of the Wilderness. I flipped to Amazon UK, and his last book Shanghai Factor was £0.59 on kindle - so I just had to! Hey it's less than a cup of coffee! Wondering if it's less than a dollar on Amazon.com - you know I'm looking out for you Tracy!
I bought Shanghai Factor in hardback with a bit of a discount a few weeks ago. I figured I would like it enough to want a paper copy. Hope I get to it soon. But I appreciate you looking out for me. I checked... the kindle edition on Amazon is higher priced than I paid for my hardback copy.Delete
Strange - glad you have it anyway,Tracy. We can compare notes at some point!Delete
I don't think I've read any of his, and am probably comfortable with that, but will look out to see if your reviews change my mind....ReplyDelete
Moira, that's fine - hopefully 2014 you're wondering what a reluctant mid-60's agent wears when he's on a mission!Delete
Col - Like Moira, I've not read his work, 'though I know the name. These don't at all seem like my cuppa, but I will be interested in your reviews. Never let it be said that I am not open-minded...ReplyDelete
Margot cheers - maybe the next spot-lighter grabs your attention!Delete
Hmmmm, never heard of him. Look forward to the review.ReplyDelete
Keishon, cheers - roll on next year!Delete