Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The Conduct of Major Maxim (Harry Maxim #2)

Author: Gavin Lyall
First Published: 1983
File size/Pages: 1388KB / 310pp
Ebook Publisher: Bloomsbury Reader
Ebook Date: September 2011

I've been looking forward to reading a novel by Gavin Lyall for a long time. This longing was further cemented when I read about his contribution to the British boom in thriller writing during the sixties and seventies in the excellent Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang by Mike Ripley. The only problem stopping me up to this point has been that his ebook presence on Amazon UK is rather on the expensive side, with most of his books averaging in the £8 range. However, I finally tracked down a physical copy in one of my favourite used bookshops and had no hesitation in bringing it back home to read (his books are readily available on popular second-hand websites, but I was holding out in the hope that the ebooks would reduce in price at some point - that clearly didn't happen). So I ended up with the book I'm reviewing today, The Conduct of Major Maxim, published in 1983, and the second part in Lyall's Hary Maxim series of four espionage novels.

Gavin Lyall was born in 1932, in Birmingham, England. After completing National Service and time in the Royal Air Force, he began a career as a journalist for such newspapers as the Birmingham Gazette, Picture Post and Sunday Graphic before having a career as a film director (directing BBC's current affairs program Tonight). He married the author Katharine Whitehorn in the late fifties, and begun writing novels a few years later. He received the British Crime Writers' Association's Silver Dagger award in 1964 and 1965, and later became the Chairman of the British Crime Writers Association. Lyall was not a prolific writer, and spent many hours researching technical elements of his stories to ensure they were factually accurate - one famous story is that he tried to see if he could cast bullets from molten lead in his kitchen.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

Author: L Neil Smith
First Published: 1983
File size/Pages: (ebook trilogy) 5366KB / (paperback) 144pp
Ebook Publisher: Del Rey
Ebook Date: June 2011

Before Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire launched the Star Wars Expanded Universe into the widely popular enterprise is it now, a few books had tried to capitalise on the franchise. To add to the publication of Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the early Han Solo trilogy (Star's End, Revenge and Lost Legacy) we also had three novels starring the gambler, con artist, playboy, character of Lando Calrissian. All were published in 1983 and were written by L. Neil Smith.

Smith is an American writer, born in Denver, Colorado in 1946. He writes science fiction, and specialises in libertarian themed novels. Amongst his most recognised books are Pallas, The Forge of the Elders, and The Probability Broach. He has, over the years, taken an interest in politics, especially to further the cause of the Libertarian Party. At one point he even agreed to stand as an independent candidate for President, but his supporters fell far short of gaining the amount of signatures he demanded before taking the decision seriously.

Saturday, 11 January 2020


Author: Anthony Daniels
First Published: 2019
File size/Pages: 29249KB / 272pp
Ebook Publisher: DK
Ebook Date: October 2019

Something a little different for today's entry. A Christmas gift of the the inside story (pun intended I guess) of Anthony Daniels time as the golden Droid of the Star Wars franchise , C3PO. I do like to read non-fiction occasionally, and anything related to the movie business usually hits the mark, especially if it is science fiction movie-related to films I admire (I'd recommend checking out Future Noir, The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon, a fantastic book).

Because Daniels book contains some content about the recent film, The Rise of Skywalker, it looks like he had to wait till that film had been released in case any keen Star Wars fans were able to discern a plot line out of it. Alternatively you argue he has timed its release to perfectly align with what looks likely to be his last appearance in the Skywalker saga (I wouldn't bet on him appearing in some other Star Wars related events though - because this book reaffirms just how much Daniels has done over the past forty years and I can't see him stopping somehow).

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Sherlock Holmes versus Dracula

1979 Paperback edition
Author: Loren D. Estleman
First Published: 1978
File size/Pages: 1432KB / 224pp
Ebook Publisher: Titan Books
Ebook Date: November 2012

In a nice coincidence, the final pages of Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula takes place at the end of the year, so it seems fitting that I should end 2019 with this book.

The novel was originally published in 1978, and is now available via a recent reprint from Titan Books in both paperback and eBook format. They have been reprinting old and new Sherlock Holmes pastiches via their "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series for a while now.

I'm a great fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's creations, the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H. Watson M.D. I have been reading Holmes books since an early age, and have been actively supporting the publication of the fantastic MX books of new Sherlock Holmes stories via Kickstarter for a number of years. If you want to read new Holmesian fiction, check out their regular Kickstarter projects, you cannot go wrong.

Author Loren D. Estleman was born in Michigan, U.S. in 1952. Estleman first published novel was The Oklahoma Punk in 1976. The books for which he is most famous for, the P.I. Amos Walker series, launched in 1980 and currently runs to twenty eight instalments. He has also written Western books about Marshal Page Murdock and hitman Peter Macklin. He followed up Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula with Dr Jekyall and Mr Holmes in 1979.