Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Author: Mike Ripley
First Published: 2017
Pages: 465

Something a bit different for this latest blog. Whilst browsing through Amazon UK I came across this book and instantly knew I would have to get it.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was written by Mike Ripley, author of the award-winning 'Angel' comedy thrillers. Between 1989 and 2008 he was crime fiction critic for the Daily Telegraph newspaper and then the Birmingham Post, reviewing over 950 crime novels. He was also a scriptwriter on the BBC's television series "Lovejoy". Mike is the series editor of the Ostara Crime and Top Notch Thrillers imprints, which is reviving novels that will be of interest to thriller, spy and high adventure fans around the world. He is also responsible for the "Getting Away With Murder" column on www.shotsmag.co.uk. Most recently, Mike completed the Albert Campion novel left unfinished on the death of Pip Carter (husband of British golden age crime author Margery Allingham) "Mr Campion's Farewell" and he has continued the Campion series with a further six original novels.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a fantastic study of the boom in British thrillers between the 1960s and the end of the 1970s. Between these times British born authors ruled the thriller fiction scene across the world. Ripley examines the background to this phenomena, providing an interesting, fun and informative journey from its roots with such authors as Hammond Inness, Eric Ambler and Ian Fleming.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Dive in the Sun

Author: Douglas Reeman
First Published: 1961
Pages: 258

Dive in the Sun is the first Douglas Reeman novel I have read. However it is not the first book by the same author as he also penned many books under the name of Alexander Kent. I'm sure some of you will recognise that name as the author of the Richard Bolitho series of books about naval warfare during the eighteenth century. What may not be so well known is that the Kent pen name originated from his boyhood friend and naval officer who was killed during the war.

Reeman was born in 1924 into an army family living in Surrey, UK. He served as a young man in the Royal Navy during the last few years of the Second World War and saw action in both destroyers and motor torpedo boats in the North Sea, the Arctic as well as the Mediterranean. He experienced being sunk and blown up on more than one occasion by the enemy. He also served in action during the Korean War. Clearly the man had the experience to back up his talent for writing war fiction. He begun writing in the late fifties, and was rewarded with a three book deal with Hutchinson & Company beginning with A Prayer for the Ship.

Reeman wrote twenty-eight Bolitho books and almost forty other novels of modern naval action and adventure under his own name. All these books are still in print, and are extensively available in eBook format across the world. Publishers estimate around 34 million copies have been bought.

Sunday, 11 August 2019


eBook cover
Author: Guy N Smith
First Published: 1986
Pages: 208

There is something about the depiction of 'common-folk' in old horror films that always makes me laugh. Maybe that was always the intention of the movie makers - to provide some light relief before and between the scarier moments. All good films such as those produced by the original Universal Monster or Hammer House of Horror studios gave the viewer an example of the well meaning but misguided locals, or the terrified villagers cowering behind closed shutters of their cottages and German expressionistic inspired buildings.

Guy N Smith serves up this type of atmosphere in spades, making it the central point of the plot in his 1986 novel, Cannibals. While reading I couldn't shake off the feeling I have when I'm watching something like Universal's 1935, The Bride of Frankenstein, or Hammer's 1961 offering, The Curse of the Werewolf, where a group of villagers pick up their torches and pitch forks and gather into a mob to hunt down the 'monster'. (Smith even has one of his characters use a pitch fork at one point which was a nice touch).

Smith populates his village with suitably colourful characters, and he gives them their heavily accented speech patterns. At the beginning of the novel the speech text seemed over done and comical - and it was this that set me off with my old horror movie comparison. Thankfully, I was able to set this aside and enjoy the blood-curdling ride Guy had in store for me with his story.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Mute Witness (Bullitt)

Author: Robert L Pike (aka Robert L Fish)
First Published: 1963
Pages: 175

The usual disclaimer here - I recently acquired this in physical format for a very cheap price, although the copy I bought is the 1969 Penguin Books version that ties into the 1968 film Bullitt (more on the that later) and not the edition pictured to left which is currently available online at a staggering £100!

Robert L Pike was a pseudonym used by the American writer Robert L Fish (clearly he had a sense of humour).  Born in 1912, Cleveland, Ohio, Fish began his working life as an engineer, before moving to South America and eventually taking up writing crime stories. He contributed to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award for best first novel in 1962, for The Fugitive (no connection to the TV series). According to Wikipedia he also used the name Lawrence Roberts but I have not been able to track anything down in that name yet.

Mute Witness is set in New York in the early sixties. It follows a few days in the life of Lieutenant Clancy of the 52nd precinct.

It's Friday 9:10am. Currently covering for his superior Captain Wise who is sick at home, he is summoned to the Criminal Courts Office by the District Attorney, a man by the name of Chalmers. He is not to be messed with; Chalmers and Clancy have recent history which resulted in Clancy's demotion so they are off to a difficult start. Chalmers orders Clancy to look after a witness for him. A member of the mob is turning evidence and has travelled from the west coast to New York to testify in order to work out a deal with the DA. Chalmers is very keen to make a name for himself with this case. He tells Clancy he must ensure the safety of the witness until the trial the following Tuesday and gives him the address of where the witness is holed up in a low rent hotel.