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I say sadly because it was one of those books that you wish would go on forever.
For anyone that has an interest in the Second World War and the Cold War that followed, this novel is an absolute must.
It features a raffish cast of characters and has a plot the covers the full gambit from the black market, to people smuggling and the murderous spy trade. It's a cracking yarn that is written extremely well and with tremendous humour.
Why John Lawton remains something of an enigma completely defeats me. He is absolutely one of today's best practitioners and is certainly up there with the likes of Le Carre, Furst and Philip Kerr.
Buy this one and read it - you'll see what I mean. Brilliant stuff for all thinking thriller aficionados.
If you like Richard Stark, Elmore Leonard or "hard boiled", Lewis is for you.
But beware, his writing should come with a health warning. Nobody knew the UK underworld scene like Ted and his take on the Jag driving,bespoke suited gangsters of the late '60s and early '70s is extremely realistic. The streets are mean and Jack Carter, a minder for a London firm who is Lewis' central protagonist, is an anti-hero with few redeeming features.
The best book in the trilogy is 'Get carter' (also known as 'Jack's Return Home'). Although chronologically the last in the series, it was the first to be published (the other two were written as prequels) and was filmed by Mike Hodges in 1971 with Michael Cain as Carter. The story sees Jack return to the North, against the advice of his London gangland bosses, to investigate the questionable death of his brother. The novel is set in real time and takes place across a couple of days. It works on so many different levels - as a tale of revenge, a story of siblings who took different directions, a take on the UK North/South divide and as a flat out thriller. In short, this is the best gangster book ever written on either side of the Atlantic!
Of the other two, 'Jack Carter's Law' is also very good whilst 'Jack Carter And The Mafia Pigeon'
is the weakest of the three.
The books are published by Soho Syndicate and are available from Amazon UK.
Buy and read - you won't regret it and hopefully, if the re-issue of the Carter books are successful, Soho Syndicate will go on to publish 'GBH' and 'Plender', Lewis' non Carter masterpieces.
James Ellroy interests me a lot (I love the movies based on his works) but I tried one of his books and found that he had a very particular style/rhythm that I found difficult to penetrate.
Did you find the same when you started with him?
Is it worth percivering and does he become easier when you settle in?
You hear that often, all I can say is my experience. It took me a bit of getting used to,yes. But it was also worth the trouble IMO. Some readers have no trouble at all with his style, others just can't get used to it. But most of his fans say once they were hooked they devoured his books. His earlier books pre-L.A. Confidential are written in traditional style but I haven't read them yet. Don't let yourself be scared by his public image, Ellroy early on understood writers are also rock stars, and the less PC they behaved the better their chances to attract the right kind of attention. I doubt any of his interviews reflects his genuine views, he's much too shrewd for that.
Interesting to note that most of it is set in the Caribbean (Haiti, in fact), where the malevolent mandarin uses Voodoo to control his minions. And his elaborate subterranean HQ is hidden in the bowels of an extinct volcano.
Yes, I remember reading the first one back in the '60s (Hammerhead).
Frankly, I thought it was very second rate. If you like that era, much, much better are the following:
1) The Modesty Blaise series by Peter O'Donnell - probably the best fantasy action thrillers ever written.
2) The John Craig thrillers by James Munro (particularly the first one; 'The Man Who Sold Death').- A great writer (who, under his real name, James Mitchell, also created 'Callan' )introduced Craig in the '60s. The books had a harder edge than Bond and were extremely well done. Ultimately he gave up the character to concentrate on Callan as its small screen success made that character a more valuable commodity.
3) The Doctor Jason Love series by James Leasor - again the first one, 'Passport To Oblivion' (aka 'Where The Spies Are') is the best. The hero, Love, is a country doctor lured into the spy world. He is a very Buchanesque character with a love of the ladies and Cord cars. The books are light in tone but are well done and quite thrilling.
4) The Quiller series by Adam Hall - fabulous books that found the middle ground between Fleming and Le Carre. Hall created his own world of espionage with its own language. His books are extremely tense and written in the first person, they make you sweat. Tough stuff. Probably the best is 'The 9th Directive'. Published in 1966, this the second in the series, was doubtless a huge influence for Forsyth's Jackal novel. It's set in Thailand and moves like a rocket.
5)The Jonas Wild novels by Andrew York - another dark assassin, this time working off a boat in Guernsey. Again the first, 'The Eliminator', is the best. Perhaps not premier cru'
but worth a read.
6)The Philip McAlpine books by Adam Diment - very cool and a real hip take on the genre. The best is 'The Dolly Dolly Spy'. Extremely well done, Diment's anti-hero is a King's Road, pot smoking mod who epitomised the '60s and brought a whole fresh approach to the genre.
You may well have read some of the above. If not, go for any of them in preference to Hood.
Thanks for those mentions, @Villiers53; I will check some out!
The Making of The Living Daylights was written by Charles Helfenstein and published in 2012. This is a fantastic gift for any Classic Bond fan who would happily contribute to a Kickstarter raising funds to blast Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli and Sam Mendes into the far reaches of space billions of light years away from Pinewood Studios. Helfenstein was previously responsible for a wonderful book about the making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and turns his attention here to another pivotal crossroads in the world of Bondage - the 25th anniversary film and the first since 1971 that would not feature Roger Moore. For nearly two decades Moore had been suavely karate chopping henchmen and venturing forth quips while wearing an assortment of beige jackets, gold buttoned blazers, cream flares and safari suits. As mocked as he still is in retrospectives when a new "Bond" film comes out now, usually by idiot critics with double barrelled names who have probably never even watched half of the James Bond films, Moore did something that was once considered to be impossible. He proved that an actor other than Sean Connery could make the role his own and be popular, ensuring the series could and would continue with different actors. Who else but Roger Moore could keep his head above water in a film like Moonraker? The Living Daylights had a new mission - to prove that James Bond would be viable into the nineties and beyond. But first they needed a story and a James Bond and the new Bond actor they eventually landed would necessitate a major change of direction and tone for the venerable franchise.
This is an exhaustive examination of The Living Daylights through screenplays, casting, production, release, and even gives the reader a tantalising look at what they had planned for the aborted third Timothy Dalton Bond, a film that was nixed by tiresome studio litigation and never went into production. Helfenstein's attention to detail is a trifle pedantic at times (I don't think I really desperately needed to know the history of the parrot that features in the Blayden safe house sequence) but the book is packed with details and trivia and any cinephiles interested in the production of films and the James Bond franchise should enjoy reading this a lot. Did you know for example that the original script treatment for what became The Living Daylights featured Bond as a young officer in the Royal Navy? Michael G Wilson was the main driver of this angle, a reboot (I hate that word) that would show us how Bond met M, Q and Moneypenny for the first time. Wilson's bold concept was ultimately rejected but at least one potential Bond was screentested with a view to this brief. British actor Mark Greenstreet was in his mid-twenties and fresh off a successful television mini-series called Brat Farrar. When Greenstreet was doing his Bond audition at Pinewood he took a break to use the toilet and bumped into Michael Biehn in his Corporal Hicks colonial space marine outfit. James Cameron was shooting Aliens next door.
If you do have Helfenstein's book about On Her Majesty's Secret Service you'll be happy to learn that The Making of The Living Daylights is equally crammed with never before seen stills, behind the scenes photographs, publicity shots, memorabilia, deleted scenes and storyboards (where Bond is, perhaps not surprisingly, drawn to look rather like Roger Moore). It has often been suggested that The Living Daylights was originally written for Roger Moore and then changed when it became apparent that the actor (who was pushing 60 at the time) would not be returning again. Helfenstein dismisses this assumption and suggests that if anything the film was developed in a generic way as the identity of the actor who would play Bond was very up in the air for periods of pre-production. Helfenstein's thoroughness provokes a fascinating look too at the Ian Fleming short story from which the title and parts of the story for The Living Daylights were plucked. Published posthumously in 1966 in a short story compendium, The Living Daylights presented a murky look at the shadowy world of "sniper’s alley" between East and West Berlin. In the story Bond is on stakeout in a safe house waiting to eliminate a KGB assassin and therefore save the life of a defecting British agent. Helfenstein details the (as usual) incredibly comprehensive research that Fleming threw himself into, visiting locations in Berlin, learning about rifles etc. Fleming's Bond had a distaste for killing and the agent ruminates on the sometimes macabre nature of his ruthless profession. Dalton's Bond managed to capture some of this.
the living daylights dalton
Naturally the casting of the new James Bond is perhaps the most intriguing subplot of the story of The Living Daylights and this particular endevour proved to have as many twists and turns as the final screenplay with its double dealing Cold War themes. The producers thought they had solved the Bond casting riddle fairly on when Pierce Brosnan officially signed on the dotted line to play 007 in The Living Daylights. Cubby Broccoli was always very high on Timothy Dalton, a serious looking and darkly handsome classically trained stage actor who was best known for playing Prince Barin in campy cult classic Flash Gordon. Dalton had turned down the chance to replace Sean Connery in the late sixties because he felt he was far too young but Broccoli kept in touch with the actor and had informal meetings with him in the seventies when Roger Moore would play extra coy with contract negotiations. But when the 25th anniversary film loomed and Roger Moore had finally departed, Dalton already had existing theatrical commitments in the West End so Pierce Brosnan (who Cubby Broccoli had first noticed in 1981 when Brosnan visited his wife Cassandra Harris on the set of For Your Eyes only) had a clear run. Brosnan had begun his 007 costume fittings when fate intervened in cruel fashion. His television show Remington Steele - a piece of eighties fluff that had Brosnan as a suave pseudo private eye - was ailing in the ratings and on the way out but the studio decided to cash in on the publicity surrounding Brosnan and James Bond and optioned a new series just as Brosnan's contract was about to expire. Brosnan was furious and his Bond dream was (until 1994 anyway) shattered.
Helfenstein's passages on the search to fill Bond's boots in time for the start of shooting are completely fascinating for those who love what ifs? and alternative casting that never happened. Why wasn't fan favourite Lewis (Bodie) Collins a serious contender? Did the elusive Australian model Finlay Light (who claimed to be close to bagging the part) actually exist? How close did two other Australians - Antony Hamilton and Andrew Clarke - come to being cast? Was Hollywood star Mel Gibson (who at this point in his life had yet to go completely insane) really a contender and would he have done it? Who else was considered? Read the book for details. Helfenstein makes a slight error though when he names Trevor (Shoestring) Eve as one of Eon's chosen candidates as Eve has denied this was the case. With Brosnan and Dalton apparently out they turned to New Zealand actor Sam Neil, then something of a rising star after Reilly Ace of Spies and The Omen III. Neil was screentested and everyone seemed happy to use him - all that is except for the one person who really mattered. Cubby Broccoli was never sold on Sam Neill and when Timothy Dalton unexpectedly became available again the Bond producer finally managed to sign the man he'd been after for nearly two decades.
Dalton flew into London on September the 29th 1986 to begin work on The Living Daylights. Only the previous day he had finished his stint on a Brooke Shields film called Brenda Starr in Florida (he needn't have bothered as Brenda Starr sat on the shelf for two years and bombed when it was released) and with no rehearsal time was now immediately plunged into the biggest role of his career. Although Dalton was something of a reluctant Bond (the actor was a very private person who didn't seem that interested in fame or money) he impressed everyone with his dedication once ensconced in the role. Dalton read all the Fleming novels in preparation and was easily the most intelligent of the men who have played Bond. Dalton would give interviews where he talked about things like Harold Pinter and "accidie" - Fleming's definition of boredom and the deadliest of all sins for James Bond. Ever hear Daniel Craig or George Lazenby waxing lyrical about Pinter's distilled essence of naturalism and how art is not reality but the appearance of whatever reality is appropriate? No. In an age before CGI, Dalton also threw himself into the stuntwork, giving his stunt handlers kittens throughout his tenure. That jeep careening down the Rock of Gibraltar? That's Dalton strapped to the top.
the living daylights dalton
More than anything it was Dalton's intensity that impressed the crew after years of jovial Roger Moore extravaganzas. "You really believed he was going to kill him," says director of photography Alec Mills on a scene where Dalton's Bond has to tangle with a villain. Dalton's Byronic good looks and moody charm in The Living Daylights briefly seemed set to position him as the definitive screen James Bond but for some reason he never really caught on with audiences, perhaps a victim of the lacklustre penny pinching MGM marketing campaigns and summer release dates that were a part of Bond in those days. Look at how Sony endlessly rammed Skyfall down our throats last year in their gargantuan marketing blitz. Dalton never got that fair wind. Dalton's legacy is assessed and there is a chapter on his death knell Licence To Kill. The book is a treasure trove of artwork, stills and imagery and the film is I think a great choice for the author to give this extensive treatment to. Why? In many ways the Dalton era was really the last of the cinematic James Bond. The Living Daylights was the last film that Cubby Broccoli produced hands-on before his age and failing health caught up with him. Dalton's era also marked the last contributions of the great composer John Barry, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, titles designer Maurice Binder, actor Robert Brown as M, and in-house director John Glen to the series. The Living Daylights was also notably the last Cold War James Bond film produced.
On the subject of John Glen, I wouldn't have minded more on the relationship between him and Dalton. Did they get on? What did Dalton really think of Glen's directing skills? This book is impressively dense at nearly 300 pages long and will keep you going for a few days and I loved that the author included details about the proposed third Dalton film that would would have arrived circa 1992 had not studio wrangles kyboshed the whole thing and left Dalton as the two Bond actor that no one remembers. The script treatment by Michael G Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero was a far out gambit set in the Far East with some notable sci-fi trappings. Would it have been the film that finally established Dalton as Bond in the eyes of the public? We'll never know. This is an amazing book and well worth buying but be warned it's fairly expensive at the time of writing. If you are a fan of the Classic James Bond films and ever see a good deal then I wouldn't hesitate to get hold of a copy.
I was interested in what some of Whitaker's cut scenes may ended up being like if they made it to the final cut of The Living Daylights.
The battle with Bond vs Whitaker was to be on Felix's boat.
His guard Stagg had a few more scenes including pretending to be a taxi driver and taking them hostage to Whitaker.
Whitaker appears on a screen along with Koskov who then orders Bond to get down on his knees.
Felix's two assistants are attacked and held captive by Stagg and Whitaker.
A great read and I'd say probably the best 007 film companion of the lot.
Your second sentence, though, is the complete opposite of my feelings and I think for many members here. So I'm not going to just ignore it. For me, Craig is an outstanding Bond, I like Mendes and Skyfall very much, and I'm happy with Wilson and Broccoli's work overall, especially where this series has gone since Casino Royale.
But as for the discussion of the book (which is the topic for this thread), yes I am sure that book is quite worth owning.
So, is this presented as proof that Dalton was the greater Bond because he knew who Pinter was, and could pronounce accidie?
Also, Binder, Maibaum, Brown and Glen all worked on LTK. I take it that was probably just a typo? ;-)
And it's hardly notable that TLD was the last cold war Bond film, as the cold war ended around the same time.
I've just taken delivery and am reading the second in the Carter trilogy (chronologically the first), 'Jack Carter's Law', and it is amazing.
But the best news of all is that SOHO CRIME are going to publish 'GBH' in hardback only in spring of next year. It's available for pre-order via Amazon UK now and I would urge all lovers of noir not to miss out.
It was Ted Lewis' last book before he passed away prematurely at the age of 42 and it was his definitive masterpiece. I've been trying to get hold of this for years but old copies in poor condition sell for huge prices on the internet.
I'm delighted that SOHO CRIME are publishing a new edition. It's just a shame that it took an American company to bring back Britain's greatest ever noir writer!
no i was referencing this article from alternative007 site. Just sharing the page that's all.
Not a complete list by any means, but these are ones I can think of today.
Some I can recommend are:
Connie Willis - not all, but especially yes for these 3 wonderful books: To Say Nothing About the Dog (time travel to Victorian England, 3 Men in a Boat stuff, and hilarious!) and Blackout/All Clear (published as 2 lengthy books but telling one continuous timetravel, historical story)
Sue Townsend - the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (first in her famous series; laugh out loud funny, written in the mid 80's and reflective of those times in England)
Barbara Tuchman - The Guns of August, this historian's book that really made her reputation; it is very well written and moving (the origins of WWI).
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird; a mesmerizing and touching story, so atmospheric; it deserves all of its accolades
Dodie Smith - two books, the first is I Capture the Castle, written in 1948, a coming of age novel, very good; and the second is the wonderful children's story, The One Hundred and One Dalmations.
Sheila Burnford - considered a children's story, yet written to all ages can enjoy it, and the author did not consider it only a children's story: The Incredible Journey.
Louisa May Alcott - Little Women (and Good Wives combined, if you can get both). Going way back to 1868, I still recommend this classic story of a family with 4 daughters, during the Civil War in America. It is really extremely well written.
Detectives, thrillers: (some far gorier than others ...)
Elizabeth George - a really good writer, yet I warn you that she took longstanding characters and made a huge shift in this series about 4 books ago. Her Inspector Thomas Lynley series. Excellent writing, good plots, thorough characterizations.
Val McDermid - her Tony Hill series, though some are not as satisfying as others (for me, anyway). Fever of the Bone being one of her very best, in my opinion, of this series; but by all means start with earlier ones (Wire in the Blood, etc.).
Tana French - a very good writer, she has a series going on that usually features a different main character from the police murder squad. Her first, In the Woods, is so very fine. I am not caught up with that series yet. I do not recommend her second as much (The Likeness), but Faithful Place was quite good, in my opinion.
Dorothy Sayers - Gaudy Night. Also the Nine Tailors. Classic detective stories.
Agatha Christie - again a classic writer. Too many to choose from; early ones I love include The ABC Murders and Murder on the Orient Express. Of her later novels, I highly recommend Sleeping Murder, Halloween Party, and By The Pricking of My Thumbs.
Hope you enjoy at least one of these. :)
What about Ngaio Marsh?
What do you think of John Gardner's Boysie Oakes spy novel series?
That is why there are several prominent female authors not on my list.
I enjoy Christie as an adult very much. And I still read books like the Harry Potter series, which I did not mention but do enjoy a lot, even though those were written for children. And Little Women of course goes far beyond being only for children.
Oh, I understand. I have a few of her books at home.
I too like Agatha Christie - Death in the Clouds (1935) is one of my favourites of hers!
The Burning Mind : M.G. Gardiner
Harper Flynn nearly died when gunmen attacked the L.A. club where she worked. A year later, Harper tries to rebuild her life - but is failing.
Because not only is she convinced there was a third gunman who escaped, but she also believes that he is targeting the survivors.
The only person who will listen is Sherriff Deputy Aiden Garrison, who tried to save her life that night. But Harper's only ally has a secret of his own - one that makes him suspicious and highly volatile . . .
I also like Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series, too. She has gotten back on track in good form the last couple of books.
What do you think of John Gardner's Boysie Oakes spy novel series?[/quote]
Absolutely fantastic. Particularly 'The Liquidator', 'Amber Nine' and 'Madrigal'.
Back in the day, they came perilously close to out Bonding Bond.
Gardner's Oakes books and O'Donnell's Blaise series were the two entries that came at the genre from a whole different angle.
Gardner's concept of having Oakes as a coward enticed into the service as an assassin by the despicable Mostyn - only to sub contract his hits to an undertaker called Griffin were peerless.
They managed to be both hilarious and thrilling at the same time. Marvelous stuff and the movie of 'The Liquidator' staring Rod Taylor is also pretty damn good.
Frankly, I could never understand why John didn't stick with Oakes. I think he was more than a little in awe of John Le Carre and yearned to be taken more seriously himself.
Have you read them?