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3.9 out of 5 stars36
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 1 November 2011
It was 1966 when, at the tender age of 13, I was seduced by Corgi's first edition of Gardner's "The Liquidator" whilst escaping a particularly draconian English boarding school by hiding out in Watford's WHS.
The cover hooked me. It showed a particularly phallic bullet tied in red ribbon and having read the cover blurb, I couldn't wait to get my hard earned 2/6 out of my pocket.
At that point in history, provoked by the Bond phenomena, the publishing industry was awash with new spy heroes but Gardner's Boise Oakes was new, different and better. The book was unique.Not only was it thrilling, it was laugh out loud funny and introduced us to a rich cast of characters that took the market by storm.
At the centre of the action was one Boise Ian Oakes, a coward, wimp and would be cad that is mistakenly recruited from civi street to be MI6's top assassin. He is seduced by the high life and desperate to hang onto the job perks but can't do the work. The solution is obvious - he subcontracts it!
This is a great book and it launched the career of the late, great John Gardner. In my opinion, Oakes was Gardner's greatest literary creation and the first three books in the Oakes series are excellent.
If you haven't read "The Liquidator", you are in for a great ride. If you did read it 45 years ago, give yourself a treat and go back in time. Of course, it's dated but that's part of the charm of reading it today.
Congratulations to "Top Notch" for publishing a jewel but, why on earth didn't you use the original cover?
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on 22 December 2010
Brian Ian Oakes - better known as "Boysie" - enjoys the high-flying,jet-set lifestyle which comes with being the British secret service's top professional assassin, code-named "L" for "Liquidator". The fast cars, the even faster women, the fine wines and the generous expense account - these he takes in his stride. The only problems he has are minor ones such as being frightened of flying - oh, and spiders; he's terrified of spiders. And there's his inate cowardice and being scared of the sight of blood....and he hates violence and also killing, which is a bit of a handicap for a Liquidator. To keep up apperances, Boysie hits on the idea of sub-contracting his lethal missions to a lugubrious underworld hit-man (and former undertaker) called Griffin, who does the killing while Boysie enjoys the lifestyle. The deception works well enough until Boysie decamps to the French Riviera for a dirty week-end with his boss' secretary and is suddenly surrounded by real spies and professional killers far less squeamish than he is.
Written as an affectionate spoof of the cult of 007, "The Liquidator" launched the careers of both Boysie Oakes and thriller writer John Gardner, who was later to be asked to continue the James Bond novel franchise, just as Sebastian Faulkes and Jeffrey Deaver do today. Almost 50 years on from first publication, "The Liquidator" shines out as the perfect antidote to the flood of Sixties spy novels which took themselves far, far too seriously. I think Gardner had a lot of fun writing it, and it shows.
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on 19 March 2014
John Gardners writing style is simple this novel reads a little like a short story rather than an in-depth essay-like description of everything, which would tire the reader out. In recent years the crime genre (rather than espionage which i would put this into) goes for wildly elaborate plots yet this one sucessfully spins out a story with some twists and turns that in some ways pave the way for the Gardner Bond stories. I gave it 4 out of 5, which for an espionage novel is good. To make a 5 these days I think the hero needs to be built up more and knocked down enough to show his human side. The Human side in this novel is interesting enough though and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 3 December 2013
The Liquidator I am so grateful I was never approached by Secret Service Recruiters when I was younger. I would have fallen for the attractive lifestyle on offer and probably wouldn't have lived long after completing basic training. Boisie Oakes is in desperate need of income when he is recruited. He is not suited to the job but his Boss doesn't realise that, in fact he "knows" he has the perfect man for the job. Not exactly a "page turner" but a thoroughly enjoyable read with excitement and titillation spread throughout. I was lucky enough to get it free but it is worth a couple of Quid if you want a little fun.
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on 9 April 2014
I read the John Gardner James Bond continuation novels as a teenager, so thought I would give this 'pre-Bond' effort a try. Well, despite being very much of its time (1960s), this was a lot of fun. Boysie Oakes is a very human and interesting central character. I enjoyed the twist that he was not all he initially appeared to be.

The action and plotting are first-rate, and this is packed with incident, femme fatales and shady characters. If you enjoy thrillers and want a change to the norm, then I highly recommend this.
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on 5 January 2014
Ian 'Boysie' Oakes is a hired assassin for a shady branch of the British secret service. The first few pages read like a catalogue of sixties brands. So far so sub-Bond spy thriller.

However, a plot twist around half way through turns this from forgettable pulp to a really quite good story. Nicely written, pacey and with a dash of humour.
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on 13 December 2013
John Gardner was an amazing author who could take you on a whirlwind adventure, provide a richly illustrated tryptich and compell you to read his novels in one sitting! The Liquidator is every bit as good and gripping a tale as his James Bond novels were. From start to climax and beyond, it is riveting. I reccommend the book and author completely!
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on 11 November 2014
Read this book when it was first published a lifetime ago. Enjoyed it as much as I did then. Still a novel twist on the spy genre. Highly recommended.
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on 31 December 2013
Part of the ending was 'expected' but not the finale. Good story and the language usage made a fresh change.
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on 22 January 2016
This was a nostalgic trip, really. I read the first three books in the series ages ago and wanted to revisit.
Still holds its own against most modern spy fiction although slow to get out of the starting blocks. But all in all a very entertaining and jolly trip, indead. Look forward to reading the other books.
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