Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Jack Carter novels by Ted Lewis - Reissued by Syndicate Books

It's been a long time coming, but Syndicate Books is about to re-publish the three Ted Lewis novels featuring Jack Carter. The first, originally published as Jack's Return Home in 1970, was later re-titled Carter, then Get Carter, in the wake of the 1971 film, adapted from Lewis's novel and directed by Mike Hodges. Notably, the film substituted Newcastle for Scunthorpe, Lewis's unnamed 'frontier town'.
With Carter dead at the end of the movie, Lewis returned to his main character in 1974 and 1977 for the prequels Jack Carter's Law (retitled Jack Carter and the Law in the USA) and Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon.
Syndicate has created a must-have package with great design and excellent layout. I was pleased to contribute a biographical afterword for Mafia Pigeon - the novel which, in essence, brings the story to the point at which Get Carter begins. Lewis's style - his prose is unremittingly bleak and brutal - has influenced generations of crime authors, many of whom, most notably David Peace, have lined up to offer their appreciation in book jacket comments. Mike Hodges has written a new foreword for the novel that launched his feature film career.
The books are gaining momentum with some great coverage, the most recent - a piece written by David L Ulin in the LA Times - marks Get Carter as the point at which contemporary 'British noir begins'. It's hard to argue otherwise. Ulin maintains that Get Carter 'sums up the hard boiled ethos' as well as anything he's ever read. What is certain is that, after Get Carter, the British crime novel darkened; TV crime became tougher and, for  Lewis, nothing would ever be the same again.