Sunday, 23 May 2021


AuthorJames Grant (aka Bruce Crowther)
Publisher: Muller
Date: 1979
Pages: 168
Cover illustration: Alun Hood 
Not currently available in Paperback or eBook format

 First off, I have to thank Bob Deis at and publisher/editor of Men's Adventure Library and Mens Adventure Quartlery for pointing out to me that mysterious author James Grant from my previous blog entry had a profile on his author page informing everyone (expect me of course!) that it was the pen name of British writer Bruce Crowther. That knowlege set me off on the hunt for as much information as I could find about James Grant/Bruce Crowther. I am very pleased to be able to present below an update and fuller list of Crowther's work and history. Thanks Rob!

After being so impressed with The Ransom Commando, I have spent the last few weeks tracking down as many titles by Crowther as I can. The result is that I was driven to abandon my current read (The Chinese Bandit by Stephen Becker - I'm not too sure I'll ever get back to finishing that one?) in order to start reading Tightrope - a 1979 novel published under the James Grant name by Frederick Muller Limited in the UK in hardback format only it would seem. I don't believe there has ever been a mass market paperback edition, but there may have been a large-print paperback by Lynford Mystery Library put out at some point? 

Bruce Crowther (b.1933) was born and raised in Hull, England. He became an avid reader at a very young age and soon ran out of books to consume from the local library. He found himself turning to crime fiction and American literature; developing a passion for the books of Chandler, Cain and Woolrich. This interest accompanied his love of film noir that had begun in his youth. He began writing crime fiction as a way to escape the boredom he encountered in his working life in industry and accounting, and never looked back. All those years of consuming classic American noir fiction probably meant that it was inevitable he would take up crime fiction writing as an adult.

Friday, 7 May 2021

The Ransom Commando

AuthorJames Grant
Publisher: Hamlyn Paperbacks
Date: 1978
Pages: 184
Not currently available in eBook format

It's always a thrill to find an undiscovered gem of a book and unearth a wealth of material by an author that has gone unnoticed since their heyday in the 20th century. It gives me great pleasure to tell you I've just finished the best book that I have read so far in 2021. The book is titled The Ransom Commando and the author is listed as James Grant.

Now, before you get too excited, this is not the James Grant that became the publishing titan that is known as Lee Childs. Grant's work appeared in the late 1970's to early 1980's - long before Childs turned to writing. However, Grant is an exceptional writer if this book is anything to go by. Bloody fantastic in fact. A faultless thriller in the vein of the best work by British authors such as Bagley, Kyle, Lyall and Higgins. 

The story of The Ransom Commando takes place in and around a quiet village in the English countryside. Dave Lorrimar is enjoying a dirty weekend away from London with his young female partner. They are staying in the Fenton Oak public house owned by ex-soldier Simon Arne. There is something threatening about Lorrimar, the way he treats his women and the way he speaks to the locals, its clear he isn't the usual sort of visitor they get. Also, he has been paying special attention to the manor house that overlooks the small village, Fenton Hall. The house is owned by the multi-millionaire businessman Sir James Garroway.

Before long Lorrimar is back in London, and it becomes clear that he is a career criminal of some renown. He tends to keep his nose clean when it comes to outright violence or murder - but when the circumstances call for it, he is willing to shoot his way out of trouble without batting an eyelid. He gathers his team together to discuss plans to invade Fenton Hall and take the Garroway family, father, mother and two daughters, hostage in order to extract money out of the businessman in exchange for their safe release.

Lorrimar is accompanied by McKendrick, a steady and reliable crook with a terminally ill mother; Hart, an openly gay member of the team who has many talents up his sleeve, the most important being the ability to pilot small aircraft; and lastly Ken Mannion, someone who normally stays in the background by bankrolling their jobs, but who has unexpectedly insisted upon joining the trio on this job. All of them are planning on making this one big - enough to leave England and live abroad for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, 2 May 2021


AuthorJohn Michael Brett (aka Miles Barton Tripp)
Publisher: Pan Books
Date: 1964
Pages: 155
Not currently available in eBook format

Have you ever had a love/hate relationship with a book? I didn't think I would, but Diecast by (John) Michael Brett is certainly a title that I lurched from loving to absolutely hating on a regular basis while I read it.

Diecast is the first book in a short-lived spy series by Brett (real name Miles Tripp), that stars his protagonist Hugo Baron, man about danger. This is not the series of books that lead to the TV Series "The Baron", which originated from books by John Creasey. Brett's run of titles only lasted for three books over consecutive years; Diecast (1964), A Plague Of Dragons (1965) and A Cargo Of Spent Evil (1966).

Better known as Miles Tripp (1923 - 2000), an English author of Crime and Thriller novels from Hertfordshire, England. He is probably best known for his alomost yearly run of books starring the private detective John Samson throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties (all of which are currently available as eBooks, and are worth trying out if you have Kindle Unlimited). After serving in RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War, he studied Law and trained as a solicitor before becoming a writer.

Tripp uses his experience in the law industry for this book. And there are more similarities between the hero of the story and its author. For a start Hugo's surname is but a single letter away from being the writers' middle name (Barton). Baron is an unmarried 37-year old solicitor who is bored of the humdrum lifestyle he has developed and is eager to become a writer/journalist. He has already been submitting stories to a national paper run by maverick multi-millionaire Paul Lorenz, who has a fascination with Julius Cesear and is referred to as "J.C." by his employees.