Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from ‘Casino Royale’ to ‘The Eagle Has Landed’

Mike Ripley. Harper, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-00-817223-7
British author Ripley’s title for this highly readable, anecdotal survey comes from a 1956 letter that Ian Fleming wrote to Raymond Chandler: “You, after all, write ‘novels of suspense’... whereas my books are straight pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety.” It was Fleming who kicked off what Ripley (Mr. Campion’s Abdication) considers a golden age for British thrillers with the publication of Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, in 1953. Following a suggestion of Len Deighton, who achieved fame with The IPCRESS File in 1962, Ripley makes an important distinction between spy fantasy (Fleming and his successors) and spy fiction (John le Carré and other, more realistic writers) in lucid, conversational discussions of individual books that supply just enough of the plot while avoiding spoilers. Ripley concedes there was no sharp cut-off to the boom, which gradually petered out in the 1970s as Americans began to dominate the genre. For U.S. readers, this is a useful guide to many lesser and forgotten authors; thanks to Ripley’s infectious enthusiasm, they will be keen to seek out those writers and their works. Lee Child, author of the bestselling Jack Reacher thrillers, provides a foreword. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio Product - 978-0-00-817226-8
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-00-817225-1
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