John Pearson was one of the authors recently covered here on the Mystery*File blog in a recent installment of the Addenda to the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin.

   Unfortunately in this case, we happened to have gotten some basic facts wrong. Soon after the post appeared we learned of some changes that had to be made. It was Hank Reineke who left the following comment, and just from reading it I believe you can deduce what we had wrong. (Both the post and the Addenda itself have been changed to incorporate what Hank had to say.)

   First, a repeat of his previous comment:

Pearson: Life of Fleming    “John Pearson is alive and well, I’m very happy to say. I interviewed Mr. Pearson in January 2006 for a feature article that studied his noteworthy and welcome contributions to the Ian Fleming/James Bond cycle. The article/interview appears in issue no. 49 of 007 Magazine Online. I queried Mr. Pearson about the Dragon’s Play entry in the Crime Fiction tome, but Mr. Pearson told me he wrote no such novel, the credit is in error. He has written a score of other books — including a few thrillers — and his 1973 novel James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007 has recently been reissued in the UK.”

   I replied right away, of course, sending his comment on to Al Hubin for his reaction and both of us asking a few questions. Here’s Hank’s reply:

Fish- Airline Detective Allen and Steve,

   I’m glad to have been of some assistance. Pearson was, arguably, the best of the Ian Fleming biographers (The Life of Ian Fleming, Jonathan Cape, 1966). He served as Fleming’s assistant when both men worked at the Sunday Times of London. Fleming arranged for Pearson to ghost-write his first book Airline Detective: The Fight Against International Air Crime as Donald E. W. Fish (also published in as a paperback in the UK as Zero One).

   The book was so popular it spawned the thirty-nine episode BBC-TV adventure series Zero One (1962-1965) featuring Nigel Patrick as Alan Garnett, Chief Investigator for the International Air Security Board. Airline Detective was, technically, non-fiction as it was the story of the real “Donald Fish,” but I believe there was a great deal of artistic license employed.

BBC Zero One

   Incidentally, Ian Fleming provided the introduction to the original Collins 1962 edition.

   Pearson’s first proper novel Gone To Timbuctoo (Collins, London) was also first published in 1962. Fleming sent Pearson to Africa for the Times and he returned with this travelogue suspense-thriller set in Africa that involved diamond smuggling and slave trading among other things. Pearson was awarded the Author’s Club Award in 1962 for Gone To Timbuctoo in the “Best First Novel” category.

Pearson: Gone to Timbuktoo

   Most of Pearson’s books are non-fiction works and he seems he have switched between biographies of literary figures, royal subjects and London-based criminals. In the latter category was The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins (1972) which was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1974 for “Best Fact Crime” from the Mystery Writers of America.

   Years later he followed that book up with The Cult of Violence: The Untold Story of the Krays (2001) and, most recently, The Gamblers: John Aspinall, James Goldsmith and the Murder of Lord Lucan (2005). I believe The Gamblers is being made into a feature film or, at least, I think I’ve read that somewhere. Oh, I almost forgot: Pearson’s One of the Family: The Englishman and the Mafia (2003). More info and background material on that title, can be found here.

   If I can be of more help, please don’t hesitate to write.