Search Results for: ted lewis

“Dirt under its nails”: Ted Lewis’s Plender

Confession time. I have not been reading a lot of new crime fiction in 2020 and, for reasons that I am sure many of you share, have found it hard to concentrate on reading anything during the Covid-19 lockdown. What I find has been working for me is just picking up something at random from the large number of unread books I have on my shelves and seeing how far I get. Sometimes I don’t get more than 20 pages before turning my attention to something else. Other titles I can’t put down.

Ted Lewis’s 1971 book, Plender, was definitely in the latter category.

I didn’t come to Plender completely cold. As regular readers of this site will know, I am a major Lewis fan. I have written at length about Lewis’s 1970 novel, Jack’s Return Home a.k.a Get Carter, and I reviewed Nick Triplow’s biography of Lewis by Nick Triplow, Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir on this site here. Triplow had also recommended Plender at some point in our online correspondence, saying, “It’s got dirt under its nails”. I duly ordered a copy and left it on my shelf where it sat for several years.

Plender was Lewis’s follow up novel to Jack’s Return Home.… Read more

Book Review: Getting Carter, Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir

The time is past when one could accurately describe Ted Lewis as a lost or under appreciated author. His best books have recently been re-released, Mike Hodge’s 1971 film, Get Carter, based on Lewis second novel, Jack’s Return Home, continues to be seen as a crime cinema classic, and Lewis’s profound, albeit posthumous, influence on the origins on Brit Noir is regularly reiterated by many of the leading lights of crime fiction.

But we know little about Lewis as a person and the influences on his work. Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is obviously the product of considerable time, energy and shoe leather spent hunting down the facts of Lewis’s life. That Triplow doesn’t completely succeed in unravelling all the mysteries surrounding Lewis’s spectacular rise and fall is not for want of trying and, it must be stressed, the book is none the worse for it.

Contemporary literary culture, with its focus on the writer’s journey, literature as personal confession and the book scribe as media celebrity, is a relatively new phenomena. Lewis went to his grave without leaving a detailed archive of papers or journals and having only done a handful of newspaper interviews. He had neither the time nor, one suspects, inclination to record his inner most thoughts.… Read more

Book review: GBH by Ted Lewis

GBHBritish author Ted Lewis is best known for his second novel, Jack’s Return Home (filmed in 1971 as Get Carter,  the title by which subsequent editions of the book would be known). But many believe his greatest work was his last, GBH, published in 1980, two years before his death.

For a long time, you could only read GHB if you could find and afford a scarce second hand copy. Thankfully, it has recent been re-released by Syndicate Books (along with the rest of Lewis’s work) a subsidiary of the prestigious and well known crime fiction press, Soho Crime.

GHB is the story of George Fowler, former head of a powerful London based criminal organisation that controlled the largest porn distribution network in the UK. His products are far worse than being merely ‘blue movies’, as they are rather innocuously referred to, and include, it is strongly inferred, snuff films, which Fowler sells to a small group of very deranged and very rich clients.

Fowler has everything: money, muscle, a wonderful penthouse with a sunken lounge (the key signifier in Lewis’s books, of any underworld villains worth their salt) and a beautiful, intelligent girlfriend, Jean, who helps run his empire and isn’t at squeamish about what Fowler does.

Then someone starts undermining his organisation from within.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Brighton Rock

Today’s Pulp Friday is linked to my recent post on Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir, an upcoming biography of the author of the classic crime novel, Jack’s Return Home, which you can read here.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed was how Triplow weaved into his narrative a discussion of the cultural touchstones that would’ve influenced Lewis as he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. As Triplow makes clear, much of this was American, such things pulp novels and film noir. But among the local influences name checked by Triplow is Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock, filmed in 1947 by John Boutling and starring a young Richard Attenborough as the vicious hoodlum, Pinkie Brown. A screen adaption shifting the story to the early 1960s and making Pinkie a moped driving mod was released in 2010.

The novel, which arguably made Greene’s name as a writer, was first published in the UK by Penguin in 1938 and has been republished numerous times. In addition to the classic orange Penguin cover, the book also received a more pulpy treatment by overseas publishers. One of these includes Australian pulp publisher Horwitz Publications, who released the edition above in 1961. This is one of a number of Penguin books republished by Horwitz, which the Australian company jazzed up with one its trademark lurid covers.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Hell is a City

A very quick Pulp Friday offering, Maurice Procter’s Hell is a City, published by Arrow Books, 1957. I am not sure, but this edition may even be the first British release of the novel in paperback.

Procter was a former Manchester policeman turned crime writer, best known for his police procedurals featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Harry Martineau, based in a tough fictional northern England industrial town. Proctor penned 14 Martineau novels, which appeared between 1954  and 1969, of which Hell is a City was the first.

Two things have got me thinking about the Martineau books. The first is my PhD research at the moment, which has been looking at the prevalence of American style detective and PI crime fiction in the 1950s in the US, UK and Australia. Procter’s work is different from a lot of post-war British crime pulp, which was set in America.

I’ve also been reading Nick Triplow’s excellent biography of English crime writer, Ted Lewis, Getting Carter (which I’ll be reviewing on this site in the coming weeks).

Among the popular cultural touchstones, Triplow writes, that would inspire Lewis’s work, including the iconic series of British gangster novels featuring the character of Jack Carter, was the 1960 film adaption of Hell is City by Val Guest.… Read more