Gavin Lyall – September 02, 2019
Lyall’s novels were of two different kinds. His first novels were adventure stories with, most often, aviation or the Second World War as part of the narrative, with heros who are realists (some reviewers have labeled them as having questionable morals) and a setting (usually) outside Britain. Midnight Plus One (Western Europe), The Wrong Side of the Sky (Greece and Libya) and Blame the Dead (England, France, Norway) are in this category. In Lyall’s adventures almost all his main characters had a four-letter surname beginning with a hard-sounding C – Clay, Cary, Cane, Carr, Card and Case. The exception to the C but still the hard “K” sound is Gilbert Kemp in Venus with Pistol.
The second set of novels have an espionage or a military theme. These novels include two recurring characters, Harry Maxim, an SAS officer given special missions by Downing St, who was also the first not to have a surname of four letters beginning with a hard C sound, and gentleman spy Matthew Ranklin in a series of historical spy novels set in the early days of the Great War.
An obituary in The Guardian summarizes Lyall’s novels which went out of fashion with the end of the Cold War. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/jan/21/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries.
That they have not reached a greater audience - and that Lyall's earlier work is now all out of print - seems to prove that the kind of literate novel of adventure to which he contributed so much has fallen out of favour with subsequent generations of male readers. Perhaps this is because they do not all share the common experience of war or of doing their National Service.
Mystery & Mayhem Books - your source for:
Please note that even though an author may be included in the Authors & Characters section, his or her books are not necessarily available from Mystery & Mayhem. For example, books by Agatha Christie are constantly being reprinted and used ones are available in every second-hand book store at, usually, very low prices. Other authors are interesting but their books are very rare, e.g. Arthur B. Reeve and his Professor Craig Kennedy who used a variety of fascinating equipment to solve cases - much of it reality in the 21st. century.
The authors described on this website are my personal favorites. However, on AbeBooks.com I have many books by authors I have never read, and perhaps never will, since my reading includes many other subjects.
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK
The DDCR (Deputy Director of Crisis Relocations) comments to a colleague, “Yes, our Harry does try to do the Right Thing from time to time. Terrifying, isn’t it?”
Gavin Lyall: The Crocus List
Title: The Wrong Side of the Sky
Author: Lyall, Gavin
Publisher: Pan Books
Copyright: 1961 by Gavin Lyall
Published: First published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1961
Edition: Pan edition 1968
Synopsis: This was Gavin Lyall’s first book, and according to many, his best. Jack Clay and Ken Kitson are two pilots who, thanks to convictions for gun-running, have no chance of flying for the large, commercial airlines.
Gavin Lyall: The Wrong Side of the Sky
For a full review click here.
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