Profile for David Craggs > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by David Craggs
Top Reviewer Ranking: 14,383
Helpful Votes: 209

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
David Craggs (CT USA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
by Ted Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Brighton Rock!, 3 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: GBH (Hardcover)
I first discovered GBH in 1980 when it was published straight to paperback. The ultimate final insult to one of Britain's greatest twentieth century writers — any genre.
I was 27 when I read it and the fact that it has stayed with me ever since is, in itself, a testimony to the strength of Ted's writing. The book has been out of print for years and it has been both difficult and expensive to get hold of. When I heard that SOHO press were releasing it in hard back I pre-ordered it immediately and since it arrived a couple of weeks ago, I've picked it up 100 times without actually starting it. I didn't want to be disappointed. I was full of trepidation — was it really as good as I remembered it to be?
Having just finished it I can confirm that the image I had carried in my head all these years about Ted's tale of the decline and insanity of George Fowler was indeed faulty. It's nowhere near as good as I remembered it to be — it's actually much better!
What sets this novel aside from just about everything else in the genre is the quality of Ted's writing and his descriptive prose. His vision of hell would make you burn and as you read the sordid tale of the collapse of this gangster's empire, you can virtually smell Dante's inferno firing up.
GBH is indeed his masterpiece and it raises yet again exactly why is Ted Lewis so overlooked?
In my opinion, he is up there with the greats and the only reason that I can proffer for his lack of acclaim is the subject matter relative to the time his work was first published. Nobody has ever got closer to a realistic portrayal of the London underworld of the '70s than Ted and those of us that were around at the time know that it was a particularly difficult time for the British establishment. Police and political corruption were rife. Society had not come to terms with pornography and as we now posthumously know, pedophile rings existed amongst the great and the good.
In this scenario, there was limited appetite in polite circles for an author who made these things his stock in trade.
A great shame because Ted Lewis is one of the greatest writers of my time. He was the poet laureate of the gutter and I would urge everybody to read this book and tell their friends. It really is a fabulous work.

The Murder Bag
The Murder Bag
Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One for the read and laugh file., 5 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Murder Bag (Kindle Edition)
Frankly,to amass this number of five star reviews, Parsons must have friends and relatives to burn.
The Murder Bag is a big piece of nonsense that joins the lower ranks of the police procedural by numbers.
The central character is completely unbelievable - a DC driving a BMW X5 with a central London loft apartment - give me a break.
Furthermore the plot is weak and the whole thing is badly written.
This genre is now so crowded that you have to be truly new, different and better to break through. What we have here is old, the same and worse.
Buy J.K.Rowling's new series or Stuart Neville. Don't waste your time on this. Life is too short!

Callan - The Colour Years [DVD] [1970]
Callan - The Colour Years [DVD] [1970]
Dvd ~ Edward Woodward
Price: £23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Ever TV Spy Series, 23 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a great TV series this was!
When the late, great James Mitchell created Callan, he did so at a time when the fictional spy world had segmented into two distinct categories: pure fantasy as exemplified by movie Bond and gritty realism as personified by screen adaptations of Len Deighton's Harry Palmer novels.
Against this back drop, the genius of Mitchell was to creat a character that was both completely believable but to deliver plots that were both tense and fast moving.
The casting of Edward Woodward as the lead was a master stroke. His portrayal of the tortured assassin became the gold standard in small screen method acting and the strong supporting cast added real quality to one of the finest TV series ever made.
Yes, it's dated but in a certain way, when I re-watched it, that added to the appeal. No CGI,fast cut action scenes or flashy sets to distract you - just great stories and great actors. What a joy.

Price: £4.74

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not In The League Of The Lewis Trilogy, 22 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Runaway (Kindle Edition)
Like many, I came to know Peter May through the fabulous Lewis trilogy. Great works that delivered on a number of different levels and books that truly resonated and stayed with you.
'Runaway', I'm sorry to say isn't in the same league. The premise is good and as a baby boomer that loves music and who also ran away, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.
That said, the love affair just didn't develop further. The characters felt contrived and somewhat unbelievable and frankly some of the plot development stretched the most agile imagination and not in a good way.
All in all it's readable but with the aforementioned trilogy, Mr.May has set the bar very high and now, he has to jump it on a regular basis.

Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars After reading the excellent 'The Twelve' and the fabulous 'Ratliners', 19 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collusion (Kindle Edition)
After reading the excellent 'The Twelve' and the fabulous 'Ratliners', my expectations were perhaps too high and although 'Collusion' is a good read, I confess to being a little disappointed.
The principle issue is that 'Collusion' is not really a novel in its own right, it's more a part two of 'The Twelve' and there is no real strong stand alone story that distinguishes it and gives it a separate identity.
OK, it does introduce Neville's new serial character, Jack Lennon, and it does nicely wrap up the events started in 'The Twelve' but beyond that, frankly you are left wondering why Neville didn't just write the two into one.
Certainly, don't read it before 'The Twelve'. It would make little or no sense.
All of that said, Neville's voice is in tact and he remains one of, if the best writer of noir working either side of the Atlantic.

The Twelve
The Twelve
Price: £2.19

5.0 out of 5 stars a novel I considered to be good but not great, 8 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Twelve (Kindle Edition)
I started my relationship with Stuart Neville by reading 'Ratliners', a novel I considered to be good but not great.
Reading the tremendous reviews accorded 'The Twelve' encouraged me to give him another go and by God, I'm so pleased I did.
This, his first book, is a pulsating dynamo of a ride that works on so many levels it leaves you wondering how anybody could do this first time out.
Not only does he manage the unusual feet of blending the quasi supernatural with the realistic in such a seamless and believable way. He does so in a flat out noir thriller that is also a tale of revenge and redemption that is set in a post 'Good Friday' Belfast that is so well described that you can almost smell the crooked politician's aftershave.
Neville succeeds so well with this work because not only does he tick all of the boxes that are key to succeeding with a sleek modern thriller - tight plotting, frenetic pace and well drawn characters. He does so with a quality of writing and an ability to create a sense of pace that is rare in the genre.
Stuart himself claims to be a fan of the late, great Ted Lewis. As am I and frankly Mr.Neville, I have news for you. You sir, are as good as Ted and for a thriller writer, there is no higher praise!
By Neville and read him now - he's brilliant!

Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon (Jack Carter Novels)
Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon (Jack Carter Novels)
by Ted Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 3 star read from Ted Lewis is worth 5 from anybody else., 8 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Legend has it that by the time the late, great Ted Lewis got to write this one he was already suffering from alcoholism and emotional difficulties.
Certainly it is the weakest of the trilogy but still, for any noir fan, essential stuff.
My critical rating and opinion is doubtless coloured by the fact that 'Jack Carter's Law' and Jack's Return Home (aka 'Get Carter') are off the richter scale and as a consequence, anything less than their perfection disappoints.
Why is it a lesser vessel?
Two reasons: It lacks the tension and tight plotting of the other two and Jack is just less entrusting when he is taken out of his UK environment. That said don't be put off buying and reading it. Lewis is still very heady stuff and the book is part of a classic trilogy that has influenced so many of today's top thriller writers.
Ironically, after this comparative failure lead many pundits to think that Ted was running out of ideas, he came back with his last and best book, 'GBH', just before he died.
Had he lived, Ted Lewis would have been 75. Not a great age by today's standards. I'm 61 and initially discovered these books as a teenager. They had a huge influence and encouraged me into a lifetime of reading for which I'm eternally grateful. As a consequence, I can't help but feel sad about his early passing and wish we knew more about him and had had more work from him. That said, when the creative flame burns this brightly, longevity is not always on the cards. RIP Ted and thanks a million for these great books.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2014 5:28 PM GMT

Jack Carter's Law (Jack Carter Novels)
Jack Carter's Law (Jack Carter Novels)
by Ted Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE POET LAUREATE OF BRITISH NOIR., 10 Oct. 2014
Ted Lewis was the poet laureate of British crime writing and it is such a shame that he wasn't recognised in a big way when he was alive.
The acclaim he did garner in his life time came mainly from 'Jack's Return Home' (aka 'Get Carter') when the 1971 Michael Caine movie adaptation took the source novel onto the bestseller lists. Ironically, although a great five star read, his best book and the best British noir novel ever written was his last, 'GBH'.
The subject of this review,'Jack Carter's Law' came about when Lewis' stand alone novels following 'Jack's Return Home' — 'Plender' and 'Billy Rags' — failed to achieve the same success as his noir debut. This resulted in him returning to the Carter character and for reasons that aficionados know well (no spoilers here) he was obliged to do it by way of a prequel.
I remember reading it back in 1974 with low expectations. Frankly, I thought Ted had sold out and that him returning to Carter was a pure commercial move.
My concerns were misplaced, I enjoyed it back then and after an eternity out of print and thanks to SOHO CRIME, I've been able to savour it again and have been reminded as to why Ted Lewis is quite simply the greatest noir writer ever to grace either side of the atlantic.
Ted's plotting, pace, characterisation and humour were faultless but the strength that put him way ahead of the pack was his capacity to create atmosphere and a phenomenal sense of place.
Jack Carter, the main protagonist, is an animal but what makes him acceptable is that the rest of the pack are even worse than him and when you walk down those mean streets with him, you can smell the underbelly of 1960s London. Nobody has ever described our capital's crime scene with this degree of authenticity. The strip clubs, bars and pool halls drip sleaze and as you accompany Jack on his real time hunt to find and silence an informant you will be completely sucked into his world populated with bent coppers, gangsters, whores and every type of low life.
The violence is bone crunching and the sex sordid but intuitively you know that Lewis is giving you the ride of your life through the real underworld. A world that he, himself must have known intimately in order to be able to portray it with this level of authenticity.
Lewis has been compared to a multiplicity of authors - Chandler, Thompson, Spillane, Stark et al.… But the truth is, he's in a class of his own and frankly, if Shakespeare or Dickens had written noir, this is how they would have done it.
Absolutely fabulous and thanks a million to SOHO CRIME for bringing this classic back to life!

Get Carter (The Jack Carter Trilogy)
Get Carter (The Jack Carter Trilogy)
by Mike Hodges
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.84

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Hard As Nails!, 9 Sept. 2014
It's great to see Ted Lewis back in print.
Next to GBH, 'Jack's Return Home' (aka 'Get Carter') is Lewis' masterpiece and is the work that should have seen him recognised as England's greatest ever noir writer and which should have seen him mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Jim Thompson. Why it never quite happened remains one of life's great mysteries but hopefully this re-release will help get him the posthumous recognition he so richly deserves.
The book itself works on several different levels: as a story of revenge, as a gangland thriller, as an attempt at redemption, as a tale of escape from the grim realities of life in a 1970s industrial town. You name it, this one has it.
The story centres around Jack Carter, a minder for a London gang, returning to his northern roots to look into the unbelievable death of his brother. Within hours of arrival, Carter is making waves and it is clear that all will not end well.
What puts it head and shoulders above contemporaries past and present is Lewis' fabulous writing. He is literate whilst remaining very stark. Every word counts and the dialogue crackles with humour and menace. He knows the underworld inside out and although his anti- hero,Carter, has few, if any, redeeming features, you can't help but empathise with him. He is a product of his environment and faced with a choice of life down the pit or the social mobility offered by gangland London, he chose the latter. Now he must pay because avenging his brother's death will have massive repercussions.
Jack is as hard as nails and absolutely the last man you'd want to tangle with. Read this and you'll walk with him down some dark allies. You'll have a great time and if you are reading it for the first time I envy you the ride. This is how it was in the early '70s and nobody captured it like the late, great Ted Lewis.
I hope like hell they re-publish GBH, Plender & Billy Raggs but meanwhile, enjoy the Carter trilogy.

Sabre Tooth (Modesty Blaise)
Sabre Tooth (Modesty Blaise)
by Peter O'Donnell
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero That Out Bonded Bond, 30 Jun. 2014
O'Donnell's fabulous Blaise franchise is, to quote the late great Kingsley Amis, "endlessly fascinating and features the greatest partnership in crime fiction since Homes & Watson" and this, the second novel in this high quality series is also the best.
The plot features a plan to invade Kuwait on September 11th! How prolific is that?
O'Donnell's clairvoyance skills aside, this is the tight, taunt kick ass thriller that firmly established Blaise as the rightful successor to Bond.
Blaise pulls no punches with her efforts to thwart the plan and readers are in for a treat as our cool, sophisticated heroine drop kicks her way through the most dastardly set of villains since Sax Rohmer gave us Fu Manchu.
Brilliant stuff and so well written

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5