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John Gardner, circa 1984
John Edmund Gardner (November 20, 1926August 3, 2007 ) was an Englishmarker spy novelist, most notably for the James Bond series.

Early life

Gardner was born in Seaton Delavalmarker, Northumberlandmarker. He graduated from St. John's Collegemarker, Cambridgemarker and did postgraduate study at Oxfordmarker. During World War II Gardner served in the Home Guard until he became of age to volunteer for service in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm then transferred to the Royal Marines 42 Commando serving in the Middle East and Far East. Gardner's father was a clergyman in the Church of England and encouraged Gardner to follow his example. Gardner was ordained and served as a priest for seven years before deciding he did not have the proper vocation and withdrawing from the clergy. He then worked as a journalist and theatre critic.


In 1964, Gardner began his novelist career with The Liquidator, in which he created a richly comic character named Boysie Oakes who inadvertently is mistaken to be a tough, pitiless man of action and is thereupon recruited into a British spy agency. Oakes is, in actuality, a devout coward with many other character failings who wants nothing more than to be left alone and is terrified by the situations into which he is constantly being forced. The book appeared at the height of the fictional spy mania and, as a send-up of the whole business, was an immediate success. It was made into a movie by MGM of the same title, and another seven light-hearted novels about the cowardly Oakes appeared over the next 12 years.

Following the success of his Oakes books, Gardner continued to write with new characters: Derek Torry, Herbie Kruger, and the Railton family, which he intended as more serious works in the spy novel genre. Gardner also wrote three novels (the third of which was never released due to a dispute with the publisher) using the character of Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series.

In 1981, Gardner was asked to revive Ian Fleming's James Bond series of novels. Between 1981 and 1996, Gardner wrote fourteen James Bond novels, and the novelizations of two Bond films. While the books were commercial successes, Gardner was ambivalent about writing novels with a character he hadn't created. In 1996, Gardner officially retired from writing Bond novels. Glidrose Publications quickly chose Raymond Benson to continue the literary stories of James Bond.

In the late 1990s, Gardner stopped writing for several years due to a prolonged battle with cancer and the death of his wife in 1997. Gardner recovered and returned to print in 2001 with a new novel, Day of Absolution, which was widely praised by critics. Gardner also began a series of books with a new character, Suzie Mountford, a 1930s police detective.


Gardner died on Friday 3 August 2007 from suspected heart failure. He collapsed while out shopping in Basingstoke, and thinking he had fainted, called his daughter Alexis. He took a turn for the worse and was rushed to hospital where he later died.


Boysie Oakes novels

  • The Liquidator (1964)
  • Understrike (1965)
  • Amber Nine (1966)
  • Madrigal (1967)
  • Founder Member (1969)
  • The Airline Pirates aka Air Apparent (1970)
  • Traitor's Exit (1970)
  • Killer for a Song (1976)
Two Boysie Oakes short stories in The Assassination File

Derek Torry novels

  • A Complete State of Death (1969)
  • Corner Men (1974)

Professor Moriarty novels

  • Return of Moriarty (1974)
  • Revenge of Moriarty (1975)
  • Moriarty (2008)

Herbie Kruger novels

  • Nostradamus Traitor (1979)
  • Garden of Weapons (1980)
  • Quiet Dogs (1982)
  • Maestro (1993)
  • Confessor (1995)

James Bond novels

The Railton family novels

  • Secret Generations (1985)
  • The Secret Houses (1988)
  • The Secret Families (1989)

Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford novels

  • Bottled Spider (2002)
  • The Streets of Town (2003)
  • Angels Dining at the Ritz (2004)
  • Troubled Midnight (2005)
  • No Human Enemy (2007)

Other books

  • Hideaway (1968) - short story collection
  • The Censor (1970)
  • Every Night's a Bullfight (1971)
  • Assassination File (1974) - short story collection
  • To Run a Little Faster (1976)
  • The Werewolf Trace (1977)
  • The Dancing Dodo (1978)
  • Golgotha (1980)
  • Garden of Weapons (1980)
  • The Director (1982)
  • Flamingo (1983)
  • Day of Absolution (2001)



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