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. 
 
 

 

18 comments:

  1. Nick

    I'd heard that there was a Jack Carter short story, published in Men Only or similar.

    In your reseach for the TL big, did you ever see this story?

    Stuart Radmore

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  4. Stuart,

    Thanks, that's really helpful. I'll certainly follow up. Can I ask where did you pick up the lead?

    Nick

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  5. Nick

    A few years ago a copy of Men Only was offered for sale on e-bay, highlighting the fact that it contained a Ted Lewis story. Priced around £25, but it went soon enough.

    Stuart

    Stuart

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  7. Thanks Stuart, I've got copies of both now. Interesting stuff.

    Many thanks, Nick.

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  8. Nick

    Good to hear you've obtained copies.

    It's wishful thinking, of course, but I'd like to see an Uncollected Ted Lewis published, compromising the various short stories and the later unused tv scripts. Unfortunately, his work covered so many genres that the only buyers of such a book would be Ted Lewis completists.

    Stuart

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  9. Stuart,

    Anything is possible. The Z-Cars episodes are pretty good, especially 'Prisoners', which is a great piece of drama. If there were enough short stories, I'm sure they could be collected and published.

    On the plus side, he already has a greater profile now than he did when I started out seven years ago. A Radio 4 documentary; an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; new editions of his novels in the USA. There's even a plaque on his house in Barton!

    Cheers
    Nick

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  10. Nick,

    You're not wrong regarding TL's recently raised profile. My only fear is that at this rate I'll be long gone before the Uncollected Ted Lewis sees the light of day.

    An interesting comparison can be made with James Mitchell and his creation Callan, another early 70s hard nut.

    Author dead and books out of print for decades, but now it appears there's shortly to be a collection of the short stories , and a slightly less imminent book dealing with the whole Callan "franchise".

    Behind all this activity I detect the encouragement of James Mitchell's family, and I guess that the co-operation of TL's family/copyright holders will be essential if his works are to have a chance of future success.

    Regards

    Stuart

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  13. Thanks for the speedy reply. To get this right the short is published in an English smut magazine titled MEN ONLY? The issue in question being December 1973?

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  15. I was able to locate a copy shortly after you fed me the info. Thank you. Nabbed it off Amazon UK.
    Other interesting articles in it too. That Charles Dickens erotica bit has to be a gag. I can't find a trace of it on the internet.

    What of the other Ted Lewis story? In what Volume is that in?
    Thank you again, you've been a tremendous help. I think this is the only place on the internet that even mentions the title "Kings, Queens and Pawns".

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  16. Erik,

    Agreed re the Dickens thing, it's a spoof. The other story is in Volume 40 No.3 - good luck tracking that one down.

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  17. Got WITH THIS SONG, BABY, IT DON'T MATTER.
    Came today in the post. Nasty piece of work. Thank you again!

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  18. Glad you were able to track down a copy. It's certainly TL exploring the darker side of something, quite what exactly remains open to conjecture.

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