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The Sleeping Cupid
The Sleeping Cupid
by E G Whitney
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Original Adventure for McGill of MAN IN A SUITCASE, 24 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Sleeping Cupid (Paperback)
Though a moderately rare tie-in half a century out of print. THE SLEEPING CUPID is still worth locating if you can, and maybe even worth collector's asking price too, within moderation (but don't go nuts). On its own terms it's a very decent little mystery, delivered with elegant, evocatively descriptive prose. As a novel based on MAN IN A SUITCASE, you'll find it more than that if you're a fan of the TV show, The author perfectly captures the tone and soul of the world-weary, disenfranchised American spy, McGill (at the time of the book's writing, an era before media bombardment and VCRs, it was *very* rare for a Brit novelist to replicate the patois of an American actor's TV character and persona this accurately and without blatant linguistic anomalies), and he also creates vivid, entertaining supporting characters as well; some of them based on familiar tropes, but so delightfully particularized, you forgive that.

As a historical note, the "E.G. Whitney" of the by-line is in fact a thriller writer of the era named Ben Healey (1908-1988), who also wrote under the pseudonyms J.G. Jeffreys and Jeremy Sturrock.


Life on Mars: Get Cartwright
Life on Mars: Get Cartwright
Price: £6.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reality Behind the Façade; The Author Behind the Pseudonym, 24 Aug 2013
This excellent quartet of new tie-in novels entertainingly, fascinatingly and at times poetically develops linking mythology between the last episode of LIFE ON MARS and the beginning of ASHES TO ASHES. All the characters are represented with accuracy, humanity and humor, and the author, while certainly expanding the format for novelistic prose, also honors it assiduously, never leaving Sam Tyler's point of view (even though those of us who know the additional "answers" provided by ASHES TO ASHES realize that at this point he could) which makes the writing even more of a tour de force.

As to the writing: it's so accomplished, focused and genre savvy that I didn't buy the claim that the author was series co-creator Matthew Graham's brother, since "Tom" seems to have no other professional credits or even online existence; the author bio/picture display in the book is rather conspicuously an inside-joke concoction, so I went a-Googling to see if I could Gene Hunt down the actual wordsmith. It wasn't easy, but I did. The official LIFE ON MARS novelist is not one of the current generation of usual tie-in writers, which is in part why he's so well-camouflaged...or at least is until you flip the byline names. He's not Tom Graham; he's independently published British science fiction/fantasy novelist Graham Thomas, author of HATS OFF TO BRANDENBURG (The Roxy Compendium), among others (not to be confused with the late Canadian mystery author Gordon Kosakoski, who used that same by-line as a pseudonym). If you click to Graham's (slightly obsolete) bio on his website, The Never Press (as one word) dot-com, one of the sentences in it reads: "He is currently at work on a four-part mini-cycle that exists within a sixteen-part saga." (LIFE ON MARS ran for 16 episodes.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2013 8:31 PM GMT


Life on Mars: Borstal Slags
Life on Mars: Borstal Slags
by Tom Graham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Secrets Revealed (no spoilers); also the Author's Real ID (Spoiler), 24 Aug 2013
This excellent quartet of new tie-in novels entertainingly, fascinatingly and at times poetically develops linking mythology between the last episode of LIFE ON MARS and the beginning of ASHES TO ASHES. All the characters are represented with accuracy, humanity and humor, and the author, while certainly expanding the format for novelistic prose, also honors it assiduously, never leaving Sam Tyler's point of view (even though those of us who know the additional "answers" provided by ASHES TO ASHES realize that at this point he could) which makes the writing even more of a tour de force.

As to the writing: it's so accomplished, focused and genre savvy that I didn't buy the claim that the author was series co-creator Matthew Graham's brother, since "Tom" seems to have no other professional credits or even online existence; the author bio/picture display in the book is rather conspicuously an inside-joke concoction, so I went a-Googling to see if I could Gene Hunt down the actual wordsmith. It wasn't easy, but I did. The official LIFE ON MARS novelist is not one of the current generation of usual tie-in writers, which is in part why he's so well-camouflaged...or at least is until you flip the byline names. He's not Tom Graham; he's independently published British science fiction/fantasy novelist Graham Thomas, author of HATS OFF TO BRANDENBURG (The Roxy Compendium), among others (not to be confused with the late Canadian mystery author Gordon Kosakoski, who used that same by-line as a pseudonym). If you click to Graham's (slightly obsolete) bio on his website, The Never Press (as one word) dot-com, one of the sentences in it reads: "He is currently at work on a four-part mini-cycle that exists within a sixteen-part saga." (LIFE ON MARS ran for 16 episodes.)


Life on Mars: A Fistful of Knuckles
Life on Mars: A Fistful of Knuckles
by Tom Graham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.15

5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal ... and The Real Author, 24 Aug 2013
This excellent quartet of new tie-in novels entertainingly, fascinatingly and at times poetically develops linking mythology between the last episode of LIFE ON MARS and the beginning of ASHES TO ASHES. All the characters are represented with accuracy, humanity and humor, and the author, while certainly expanding the format for novelistic prose, also honors it assiduously, never leaving Sam Tyler's point of view (even though those of us who know the additional "answers" provided by ASHES TO ASHES realize that at this point he could) which makes the writing even more of a tour de force.

As to the writing: it's so accomplished, focused and genre savvy that I didn't buy the claim that the author was series co-creator Matthew Graham's brother, since "Tom" seems to have no other professional credits or even online existence; the author bio/picture display in the book is rather conspicuously an inside-joke concoction, so I went a-Googling to see if I could Gene Hunt down the actual wordsmith. It wasn't easy, but I did. The official LIFE ON MARS novelist is not one of the current generation of usual tie-in writers, which is in part why he's so well-camouflaged...or at least is until you flip the byline names. He's not Tom Graham; he's independently published British science fiction/fantasy novelist Graham Thomas, author of HATS OFF TO BRANDENBURG (The Roxy Compendium), among others (not to be confused with the late Canadian mystery author Gordon Kosakoski, who used that same by-line as a pseudonym). If you click to Graham's (slightly obsolete) bio on his website, The Never Press (as one word) dot-com, one of the sentences in it reads: "He is currently at work on a four-part mini-cycle that exists within a sixteen-part saga." (LIFE ON MARS ran for 16 episodes.)


Life on Mars: Blood, Bullets and Blue Stratos
Life on Mars: Blood, Bullets and Blue Stratos
by Tom Graham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.86

5.0 out of 5 stars LOM Novels? The Authentic Goods. Co-Creator's Brother as Author? Not So Much., 24 Aug 2013
This excellent quartet of new tie-in novels entertainingly, fascinatingly and at times poetically develops linking mythology between the last episode of LIFE ON MARS and the beginning of ASHES TO ASHES. All the characters are represented with accuracy, humanity and humor, and the author, while certainly expanding the format for novelistic prose, also honors it assiduously, never leaving Sam Tyler's point of view (even though those of us who know the additional "answers" provided by ASHES TO ASHES realize that at this point he could) which makes the writing even more of a tour de force.

As to the writing: it's so accomplished, focused and genre savvy that I didn't buy the claim that the author was series co-creator Matthew Graham's brother, since "Tom" seems to have no other professional credits or even online existence; the author bio/picture display in the book is rather conspicuously an inside-joke concoction, so I went a-Googling to see if I could Gene Hunt down the actual wordsmith. It wasn't easy, but I did. The official LIFE ON MARS novelist is not one of the current generation of usual tie-in writers, which is in part why he's so well-camouflaged...or at least is until you flip the byline names. He's not Tom Graham; he's independently published British science fiction/fantasy novelist Graham Thomas, author of HATS OFF TO BRANDENBURG (The Roxy Compendium), among others (not to be confused with the late Canadian mystery author Gordon Kosakoski, who used that same by-line as a pseudonym). If you click to Graham's (slightly obsolete) bio on his website, The Never Press (as one word) dot-com, one of the sentences in it reads: "He is currently at work on a four-part mini-cycle that exists within a sixteen-part saga." (LIFE ON MARS ran for 16 episodes.)
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2013 3:03 PM BST


Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night
by James Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Second Star is in Honor of Bygone Better Days ..., 11 Feb 2013
This review is from: Bonfire Night (Hardcover)
Speaking as a Yank CALLAN fan and a professional writer, I'm sorry to say the nays have it. In this last CALLAN novel, the late James Mitchell decided to acknowledge the 25 year gap between books and revisit the two main characters as older men. What disappoints most is not the way Mitchell has envisioned Callan and Lonely (now Roger) in 2001 --- which is a bit incredible, not how any Callan staffwriter would have done it, and seems a little like a mashup with some other story universe -- but, hey, they're his characters and I was perfectly happy to view them as he did. No, what breaks your heart most is the prose...and a palpable deterioration of craft and technique. Mitchell always loved deep internalization, but in BONFIRE NIGHT, he is SO deep into personae that basic what's-going-on narrative has been stripped down to an exercise in minimalism. In fact, full disclosure: past the halfway mark I finally admitted to myself that it was incomprehensible and put it down, defeated. I not only wonder where the editor was; I wonder where James Mitchell was; the novel is almost a fever dream. If you're a completist collector (like me) and MUST have the book, don't spend the collector's prices usually asked; wait till you find one for a few quid or less (which, happily, I did). Otherwise, steer clear and settle for the brilliant and essential first four: [A] RED FILE FOR CALLAN (aka MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER, aka simply CALLAN), RUSSIAN ROULETTE, DEATH AND BRIGHT WATER and SMEAR JOB. If you believe that iconic characters have a life of their own (and of course you do) trust me: Callan, Lonely, Meres and all the Hunters would prefer it that way...


Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By
Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now Thass What I'm Talkin' Bout, 9 Oct 2011
There have been literally hundreds of DOCTOR WHO novels, but with the new millennium incarnation of the TV series, BBC Books (inevitably) renovated its line to match. The publishing "reboot" features three kinds of book: the main line of compact hardcovers sans dust jacket, technically marketed at YA readers, but written at a general audience level; a number of series *specifically* for younger readers, including annuals, Quick Reads and the 2in1 volumes of novellas; and what I guess might be called the "adult" line: mainstream hardcovers presumably written at a higher literary level.

The first book in that series, by science fantasy Master Michael Moorcock, THE COMING OF THE TERRAPHILES was, despite Moorcock's longtime and well documented affection for the show, a vastly disappointing affair, to put it mildly; rather than step into the DOCTOR WHO universe and continuity, he seemed to be appropriating the characters and some of the concepts to fit within his peculiar and legendary multi-verse. They bore little but surface resemblance to the authentic characters and more heartbreaking still, the book itself was a rambling, talky, discursive bit of twee high comedy, as if the setting were a drawing room in space.

But this second book by Dan Abnett, THE SILENT STARS GO BY, seems an aggressive attempt to reclaim the "adult" line's integrity. Abnett, though certainly a major player, does not represent the kind of high profile by-line Moorcock does, but clearly, this time, the editors were more concerned about getting it right than having a brand name on the package.

Abnett's book is really no more "adult" than the primary line of books, save for the fact that it's somewhat longer. Mostly, it's just a ripping good WHO yarn, featuring Matt Smith's incarnation of the Doctor, plus married companions Amelia Pond and Rory Williams. He has the characters, their voices, their internalization, exactly right; his prose is facile (he likes a good, showy effect) but also witty, and also -- and I don't mean this to diminish its sophistication -- easy to read. The flow appears effortless.

This is not to say it breaks any new ground -- as I say, this book is *not* a literary experiment, it's DOCTOR WHO served straight up, with suspense, cool monsters and expertly timed comedy. And it spins variations on a few familiar science fiction tropes (among them the backwoods colony of settlers descended from space travelers, who view artifacts of their ancestors' technology in a reinterpretive, religious context.) But I think that's exactly what was called for to save the line of books.

Flaws? Sometimes THE SILENT STARS GO BY is (despite its highly poetic title) cleverly quippy to a fault, and Abnett works the wisecracks a bit too hard. (When the original play version of THE ODD COUPLE was in out of town tryouts, a colleague asked director Mike Nichols how it was going. "Pretty good," said Nichols. "We're taking out the jokes." Meaning, of course, they were getting rid of distracting excess, that moved off the point of character and story. Here and there Abnett could do with similar restraint.) But all in all, that's a minor quibble.

The book is a brisk, fun read, it truly does come off as a credible DOCTOR WHO episode (and in comparison to the weak 6th season entries, a superior one at that) ... and it can (and will) be enjoyed by young readers as well as adults. Geronimo ...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2012 1:52 PM GMT


Primeval: Fire and Water (Primeval)
Primeval: Fire and Water (Primeval)
by Simon Guerrier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No "Fraud" Involved, Best Entry in the Series, 14 July 2009
The disappointed reviewer on this page was almost certainly not misled deliberately: likely author Simon Guerrier's original outline did feature the characters of Nick Cutter and Jenny Lewis, and he was asked to retool it when the re-casting went down (and that was very likely why, as he mentions in an afterword, he was invited onto the set to watch filming; he'd have had no exposure to the new characters otherwise, if the release of the book were to coincide with the middle of Season Three). To Guerrier's everlasting credit, though, the reconception has made it seem as if this were a story meant to feature Danny and Sarah all along, and he captures their personae, as well as those of the veteran regulars, perfectly.

More impressive still, though he's dealing with the weakest continuity of the TV show (it not only jumped the shark in Season Three, it kissed it, seduced it, humped it and sent it flowers), he has written the strongest of the four novels. In part he seems to have had advantages the previous three scribes didn't have, in re: greater familiarity and (possibly) fewer restrictions, what with the show foundering and losing both focus and perspective (ironically, as an "outside" freelancer, working in prose, he got to pull various disparate elements together) --

-- but he's also managed to create a tale in which multiple, seemingly independent, storylines converge on a reveal (not to be spoiled here) that has more urgency and somewhat higher emotional stakes than just rampaging prehistoric creatures running around where they don't belong.

With the show having been canceled, this fourth book is probably the last novel in the series, but it makes for a delightful (if unintentional) finale; and indeed, kind of shows Danny and Sarah off to better advantage than the show ever did, by putting them (as well as the others) in situations that best exploit their personality traits and kinds of expertise. Probably not optimally effective as a standalone novel, but for fans of PRIMEVAL it earns high marks as one last, very decent ride in the dinoverse.


Dempsey And Makepeace - The Complete First Series [1985] [DVD]
Dempsey And Makepeace - The Complete First Series [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Brandon
Offered by Rapid-DVD
Price: £15.97

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rank from a Yank, 17 Mar 2006
In the States, DEMPSEY AND MAKEPEACE was more obscure than in the UK. TV shows here have "seasons" (as opposed to the UK's "series"), and D&M was syndicated to off-network stations. What we saw, rather than three series of 10 eps, each was a season of 20 plus a half-season that burned off the rest. I was with the show from the pilot (originally broadcast as a one-off TV movie) and I remember loving it; and feeling part of a cult fandom, onto a gem few else seemed to know about.
Making my way through the box set, two decades later (hard to believe) I find the show is much less of a gem than I thought, in terms of the writing (pretty pedestrian) and even the direction. (From the commentary, the production values were apparently unusually slick for UK TV of the era; but against average US shows of the same genre, D&M can seem notably crude: the camerawork and editing can be arbitrary, jagged; act breaks come in odd places and without punctuation; pacing is often non-existent -- lot of useless shots of D&M driving from one locale to another.) And yet ...
The chemistry between Brandon and Barber is, of course, palpable, making even their most inane exchanges delightful guilty pleasures; and Ray Smith, as Spikings, their chief, is -- in the literal rather than just the populist sense -- brilliant. He takes a classic archetype -- the slow-burn captain -- and infuses it with both subtle nuance and great gusto. The three of them make for an endlessly entertaining triumvirate, who -- while never behaving superior to the material or planting tongue-in-cheek -- seem to float above the flat writing unscathed.
If episode quality, continuity or (at times) even flat-out sense are important considerations for you, than DEMPSEY & MAKEPEACE may well not be worth your time. But if watching three charismatic stars riff off each other, and their material, is likely to put you in the happy zone, than D&M series one is very worth the price of purchase
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Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 21, 2013 12:55 AM GMT


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