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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this for the first time....
...in 1965 at the age of 18. It was one of a bundle of thrillers that kept me entertained over a whole winter while I was holed up in a remote farmhouse supposedly studying for exams. The local village had two tiny pubs, mostly patronised by old men who sucked pipes in the corner and grunted when you asked them a question, and there was a TV set that showed a blizzard of...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by PatB

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noirish aviation thriller
It's only noirish rather than full on noir, because Lyall explains everything at the end. Given that the explanations don't make any sense he would have been a lot better of leaving the reader in confusion. The kindle version is riddled with annoying transcription errors and has clearly never been proof-read.
Published 18 months ago by Graham R. Hill


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this for the first time...., 22 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Wrong Side of the Sky (Paperback)
...in 1965 at the age of 18. It was one of a bundle of thrillers that kept me entertained over a whole winter while I was holed up in a remote farmhouse supposedly studying for exams. The local village had two tiny pubs, mostly patronised by old men who sucked pipes in the corner and grunted when you asked them a question, and there was a TV set that showed a blizzard of black and white dots with a few shadows moving in the background. If it wasn't for those books I'd have topped myself.

I read them all about six times each. A lot of them, such as the James Bond books, have lost some of their lustre over the intervening decades. They don't excite as they once did. But Len Deighton holds up well to re-reading, and so does Gavin Lyall. The Wrong Side of the Sky is one I didn't read again until a few days ago. It belongs to that category that used to be called "the solid British thriller", which means well-crafted, literate without being self-consciously stylish, and packed with hardware, mechanical stuff, boys' toys. In this case it's aircraft. Lyall was a former RAF pilot.

The story, set around the Mediterranean, is neither here nor there - stolen jewels, a fat man slumped over his desk with a pistol nearby, leggy girls who aren't nearly as innocent as they look, a blow to the back of the head, a race to find the hidden treasure - you've read it before. What matters is how it's done. Like Deighton, Lyall inherited the wisecracking style of Raymond Chandler, which is fine as long as you have the wit. Lyall certainly has it. "He was dressed like the inside of a millionaire's wallet", "Mikklos was a small, tubby character with thick spectacles and a bristly moustache, pushing fifty but not moving it much". There's some sparkling dialogue. But the tour de force of the action writing doesn't involve any guns or fistfights. It's a night-to-morning flight in a light aircraft with a storm brewing and radio contact intermittent:

"I jerked my head up - and there it was, all right. It was distant still - near the fifty miles we'd guessed - but even so it was big; a rampart of great white thunderheads reaching to 40,000 feet, their tops dragged off into anvil shapes by the stratospheric winds. Eight-mile-high pillars of thunder, stuffed with roaring up-and-down currents that could flip a 100-ton jetliner on her back and then tear the wings off her."

Lyall takes two chapters to get us through that nightmare ride. And if you aren't on the edge of your seat, by God, sir, you're hard to please.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class story - a classic thriller, 14 May 2011
By 
Henk Beentje "Henk Beentje" (Kew, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wrong Side of the Sky (Paperback)
The book: Jack Clay flies a Dakota - an old one - for a living. He takes cargoes around the Med; on this particular trip, cargoes vary from counterfeit weapons to small boxes of treasure, in Greece and Libya. But nothing is straightforward - not his employers and their motives, not the murder of his agent, not even old friends... The only costants seem to be insecurity, disillusionment, lack of money - and danger.

The writer: Gavin Lyall has written a lot of thrillers and, later, spy novels; amazingly this 1961 book was his first.

My opinion: P.G. Wodehouse thought this was an excellent novel of suspense - and so do I! Bright crosstalk between pilots, a sequence of flying through a storm that makes your hair stand on end, realistic people, solid background. Cynical, wisecracking, and all round very good; and in the end, it is more than 'just a thriller', it makes you think about choices in life, too. Good stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noirish aviation thriller, 26 Jun 2013
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Graham R. Hill (Ilkley) - See all my reviews
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It's only noirish rather than full on noir, because Lyall explains everything at the end. Given that the explanations don't make any sense he would have been a lot better of leaving the reader in confusion. The kindle version is riddled with annoying transcription errors and has clearly never been proof-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit dated, but still gripping., 24 Jan 2013
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David Hill - See all my reviews
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"The Wrong Side of the Sky" is Lyall's first book. Written in 1961 it is showing its age a bit now, but this story of stolen Indian treasure is still a cracking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, 29 April 2012
This review is from: The Wrong Side of the Sky (Paperback)
Like most of the other reviewers, I first read Gavin Lyall when I was a kid - I guess some forty odd years ago. I have read and re-read Gavin Lyall ever since. The Wrong Side of the Sky was the first one I read but P.G. Woodhouse puts it better than I ever could, `Terrific! When better novels of suspense than this are written, lead me to them.' I simply say `read Gavin Lyall - you won't regret it'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic action thriller, 11 Jan 2011
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This review is from: The Wrong Side of the Sky (Paperback)
Gavin Lyall wrote a series of excellent action books in theh 1960s which have stood the test of time - I read it first about 20 years ago - and have bought several copies since because I keep on lending them. Its not a blockbuster just a neat taut action story that makes you care about what happens. His other 1960s one, 'the Most Dangerous Game' is even better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GRIPPING THRILLER, 20 Sep 2013
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Great to read this once again. It feels dated now with the absence of mobile phones or laptops and the novel should be viewed more as historical fiction than a modern thriller. Gavin Lyall was definitely underated. Can't wait for my next holiday to download another excellent poolside read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 27 July 2013
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I had read this thriller before. Gavin Lyall when he was on song was always a good witty read. Was delighted to find that Amazon still has his books on offer. I opted for the Kindle version and will buy more..
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Jun 2013
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Gavin Lyell crafts an excellent story with an unsuspected twist in the tail. A rattling good read in every respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Right Gripping, 14 April 2013
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M. Hunter - See all my reviews
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So gripping that I had to keep reading long past bedtime. Well plotted, and so well written that you hardly notice the pages flowing by. I suppose there might be people who prefer more romance and less flying minutiae, but for me the mix was just right. In fact, so fascinating is the flying detail that you hardly need the surprising twists and turns of the plot.

Gavin Lyall was (in my opinion) a far better thriller writer than some (e.g. Ian Fleming) whose output was filmed and became massively popular; I find Lyall's restraint and realism far more appealing. Wish he was still alive and still writing.
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The Wrong Side of the Sky
The Wrong Side of the Sky by Gavin Lyall (Paperback - Mar 1966)
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