Best-selling spy novelist John Gardner passed away on 3 August 2007.


   Best-known as the most prolific of the writers contracted to continue the adventures of James Bond after the death of Ian Fleming, Gardner, a former Anglican clergyman and recovering alcoholic, would eventually write 16 Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote himself, between 1981 and 1996.

   Ironically, Gardner broke into spy fiction with a series about Boysie Oakes, a cowardly, selfish, and not particularly patriotic character who’s dragooned into spy work pretty much against his will. Oakes was created to be more or less the antithesis of Bond, yet the Oakes novels were an integral part of the resume that got Gardner the Bond gig.

   Though his Bond novels are probably his best-known and most popular work, his reputation as a top-flight cloak-and-dagger writer would be secure if he’d never written a single word about 007. Two series in particular stand as his best work in the sub-genre.

   His five novels featuring Herbie Kruger, a naturalized Brit of German birth who, after emigrating, has become the top agent of MI-6, are among the best series of British spy novels in the post-Le Carre era. Kruger debuted in The Nostradamus Traitor. The penultimate novel in the Kruger series, Maestro, was reportedly Gardner’s personal favorite of all his books.

Secret Houses

   Kruger also makes a few cameo appearances in Gardner’s “Secret” trilogy, featuring the British Railtons and the American Farthings, two families, related by marriage, who defend freedom by choosing careers in their respective countries’ intelligence services. The trilogy effectively combined the multi-generational family saga, historical fiction, and espionage in an ambitious project that attempted, largely successfully, to show the history of espionage from just before World War I to the early 60s. The three books in the trilogy are The Secret Generations, The Secret Houses, and The Secret Families.

   Most identified with spy fiction, Gardner was a versatile writer who could easily slip into other mystery sub-genres. A pair of carefully researched novels set in the world of Sherlock Holmes, for example, were told from the point of view of Professor Moriarty, depicting the iconic villain less as the effete “criminal mastermind” Conan Doyle portrayed than as a Victorian version of Al Capone or Don Corleone. Originally planned as a trilogy, the third novel has never appeared.

   Two police procedurals, A Complete State of Death and The Corner Men, featured Scotland Yard detective Roger Torrey. The first, with the setting changed from London to New York, became the Charles Bronson film The Stone Killer.


   Between 1995 and 2001, Gardner abruptly stopped writing while he simultaneously fought cancer and the grief caused by his wife’s death. Winning his battle with the disease and coming to terms with the death of his spouse, he returned to writing with a vengeance, turning out a top-notch international thriller, Day of Absolution, and starting a new historical police procedural series about Suzie Mountford, a London Metropolitan policewoman fighting crime, and sexism,in the early years of World War II. The latest Mountford novel, No Human Enemy, will appear in bookstores later this month. Reportedly, the long-awaited third novel in the Moriarty trilogy is also being readied for publication.

   He’ll be missed.

      THE BOOKS. Adapted from Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin.

GARDNER, JOHN (Edmund) (1926-2007 ) British editions only, unless US titles differ.

* The Liquidator (n.) Muller 1964 [Boysie Oakes]
* Understrike (n.) Muller 1965 [Boysie Oakes]
* Amber Nine (n.) Muller 1966 [Boysie Oakes]

Amber Nine

* Madrigal (n.) Muller 1967 [Boysie Oakes]
* Hideaway. Corgi 1968. Story collection.
* A Complete State of Death (n.) Cape 1969 [Derek Torry]
* Founder Member (n.) Muller 1969 [Boysie Oakes]
* The Airline Pirates (n.) Hodder 1970 [Boysie Oakes]
* -The Censor (n.) NEL 1970
* Traitor’s Exit (n.) Muller 1970 [Boysie Oakes]
* Air Apparent (n.) Putnam 1971; See: The Airline Pirates (Hodder 1970).
* The Stone Killer (n.) Award 1973; See: A Complete State of Death (Cape 1969).
* The Assassination File (co) Corgi 1974
* The Corner Men (n.) Joseph 1974 [Derek Torry]
* The Return of Moriarty (n.) Weidenfeld 1974 [Prof. James Moriarty]
* A Killer for a Song (n.) Hodder 1975 [Boysie Oakes]
* The Revenge of Moriarty (n.) Weidenfeld 1975 [Prof. James Moriarty]

Revenge of Moriarty

* To Run a Little Faster (n.) Joseph 1976
* The Werewolf Trace (n.) Hodder 1977
* The Dancing Dodo (n.) Hodder 1978
* The Nostradamus Traitor (n.) Hodder 1979 [Herbie Kruger]
* The Garden of Weapons (n.) Hodder 1980 [Herbie Kruger]
* Golgotha (n.) Allen 1980 [England; 1990]
* The Last Trump (n.) McGraw 1980; See: Golgotha (Allen 1980).
* License Renewed (n.) Cape 1981 [James Bond]
* For Special Services (n.) Cape 1982 [James Bond]
* The Quiet Dogs (n.) Hodder 1982 [Herbie Kruger]

Quiet Dogs

* Flamingo (n.) Hodder 1983
* Icebreaker (n.) Cape 1983 [James Bond]
* Role of Honour (n.) Cape 1984 [James Bond]
* The Secret Generations (n.) Heinemann 1985 [Railton family; Farthing family]
* Nobody Lives Forever (n.) Cape 1986 [James Bond]
* No Deals, Mr. Bond (n.) Cape 1987 [James Bond]

No Deals Mr. Bond

* Scorpius (n.) Hodder 1988 [James Bond]
* The Secret Houses (n.) Bantam 1988 [Railton family; Farthing family; Herbie Kruger]
* License to Kill (n.) Coronet 1989 [James Bond]
* The Secret Families (n.) Bantam 1989 [Railton family; Farthing family; Herbie Kruger]
* Win, Lose or Die (n.) Hodder 1989 [James Bond]
* Brokenclaw (n.) Hodder 1990 [James Bond]
* The Man from Barbarossa (n.) Hodder 1991 [James Bond]
* Death Is Forever (n.) Hodder 1992 [James Bond]
* Maestro (n.) Bantam 1993 [Herbie Kruger]


* Never Send Flowers (n.) Hodder 1993 [James Bond]
* Seafire (n.) Hodder 1994 [James Bond]
* Confessor (n.) Bantam-UK 1995 [Herbie Kruger]
* Goldeneye (n.) Coronet 1995 [James Bond]
* Cold Fall (n.) Hodder 1996 [James Bond]
* Day of Absolution (n.) Scribner-US 2000

Troubled Midnight

   Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford novels —

* Bottled Spider (2002)
* The Streets of Town (2003)
* Angels Dining at the Ritz (2004)
* Troubled Midnight (2005)
* No Human Enemy (2007)

   For more on John Gardner’s life, as he told it himself, go to