Summer & Fall 2010

   This past summer’s titles from Ostara Publishing’s Top Notch Thrillers imprint which aims to revive Great British thrillers “which do not deserve to be forgotten” included a 50th anniversary reissue of a classic manhunt; the story of a World War II conspiracy from one of the biggest selling authors of the 1970s; an award-winning against-the-clock thriller; and a Gothic chiller from an author described as the literary link between Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert.

   Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household is the tense, spare story of a manhunt across England’s green and pleasant countryside in 1955 which has been described by one critic “As if Gunfight at the OK Corral had been transposed to St Mary Mead.”

   Geoffrey Household, the writer widely considered to be the natural successor to John Buchan, had an unrivalled feel for the English countryside and the primitive bond between hunter and prey.

   First published fifty years ago in 1960, Watcher in the Shadows is a masterly description of a deadly game of cat-and-mouse which ranks comfortably alongside Household’s legendary Rogue Male.


   Black Camelot, first published in 1978, combines a superbly researched wartime conspiracy plot with blistering action and rightly led to the author, Duncan Kyle, being favourably compared to Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley.

   Under his real name, John Broxholme was a distinguished journalist and Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, but it was as Duncan Kyle that he achieved international fame from the moment his first thriller, A Cage of Ice, became an instant bestseller on publication in 1970.


   Francis Clifford was one of Britain’s most respected thriller writers from his first well-crafted mysteries in the late 1950s to his untimely death in 1975. His 1974 novel The Grosvenor Square Goodbye was a sensation on publication, won the Crime Writers’ Silver Dagger and was serialised in national newspapers.

   The action of the book takes place in less than 24 hours and begins with a crazed lone gunman bringing the West End of London – and the American Embassy – to a violent halt. But nothing, absolutely nothing, in this ingenious ticking-clock thriller can be taken for granted.


   The Young Man From Lima, first published in 1968, shows all the trademark touches which made author John Blackburn “today’s master of horror” (Times Literary Supplement).

   John Blackburn held a unique place among British thriller writers of the 1960s, adding his own taste for the Gothic and the macabre to the conventions of the thriller, the spy story and the detective novel, and always at a ferocious pace. As a writer he is seen as the literary link between the work of Dennis Wheatley and James Herbert and many of his plots were based on scientific or medical phenomenon presaging the work of writers such as Michael Crichton.


         7th December 2010

   Top Notch Thrillers, the new imprint of print-on-demand publisher OSTARA celebrates its first year in operation with the re-issue of two classic British thrillers.

    John Gardner’s debut novel The Liquidator was originally written as an affectionate spoof of the James Bond genre and featured the cowardly, accident-prone agent “Boysie” Oakes.

   Originally published in 1964, shortly after the death of Ian Fleming, the Boysie Oakes books were seen as a natural successor to Bond and in the 1970s, John Gardner (by now an established thriller writer) was approached by the estate of Ian Fleming to continue the 007 franchise. In total, Gardner wrote over 50 novels, the last of which was published posthumously in 2008.


   Victor Canning (1911-1986) was one of Britain’s best-loved popular novelists, whose first book was published at the age of 23 and whose writing career spanned more than 50 years. The Rainbird Pattern is probably his most famous thriller and won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger in 1972. It was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock (his last film) as Family Plot.


   In the first year since its inception, the Top Notch Thrillers imprint has reissued 14 novels from what consulting editor Mike Ripley calls: “the heyday of British thriller writing – the 1960s and 1970s.”

   Says Ripley, himself an award-winning crime writer and a member of the International Thriller Writers organisation: “It’s a fantastic honour to be re-issuing many of the thrillers I grew up reading, but it is not just a question of nostalgia. The range and distinctiveness of British thrillers forty years ago was staggering, and the sheer quality of imaginative writing then simply does not deserve to be forgotten.”

   Full details of all Top Notch Thrillers can be found on Titles are available from Amazon (£10.99 in the UK, $16.98 in the US).

   Series Editor Mike Ripley can be contacted via

Editorial Comment:  The last two are not yet available from Amazon in the US, but they can be obtained from in the UK for $15.95, postpaid. (Price and availability may change quickly.)