KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG: THE BOOM IN BRITISH THRILLERS FROM CASINO ROYALE TO THE EAGLE HAS LANDED by Mike Ripley (Harper Collins)
Each week I will be doing a Throwback Thursday column which will feature reviews of old books that I have recently re-read or old reviews that were originally published in the Canberra Times in years past.
In part I will be using the column to post reviews of old thrillers I enjoyed from the Golden Age of British thriller writing in the 1960s -80s. I therefore thought that a good place to start would be popular author and reviewer Mike Ripley’s excellent history of the boom in British thriller writing during this period.
In short, this book is an absolute delight!
Ripley’s highly entertaining account of British thriller writing from the 1950s into the 1970s is a fascinating examination of the authors and themes from the period and the social changes that influenced them. He superbly captures the major authors and their works and describes them in a generous and insightful way. His discussion of the various books will bring back many happy memories for those who grew up during the period and will have younger readers eagerly searching out these neglected works.
Ripley covers all the usual suspects, Hammond Innes, Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Gavin Lyall etc., but also pays good attention to some of the lesser known, but equally impressive authors, such as James Mitchell and Alan Williams. He also provides a very comprehensive listing and assessment of the various authors from the period at the back of the book.
Two aspects of the book stand out for me. Firstly, his insightful and interesting analysis of the lasting impact of the Second World War on thriller writing in the 1960s and 1970s and secondly, his witty and amusing asides! Many times I found myself smiling at a typically wry comment by Mike on the social conventions of the 1960s or the current state of thriller writing. There are also some marvellous stories about the authors he covers and the reading habits of the times.
Mike is the popular author of the Angel series of comedy thrillers set in London and has recently been detailing the further adventures of Albert Campion, the character created by the late Margery Allingham. He brings an author’s eye and easy reading style to Kiss, Kiss and the result is a very lucid and engaging read. It also has great photos of the covers of many of the books.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is great book and a ‘must’ for any serious reader of thriller fiction, or those who just like to be entertained.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was originally published in 2017 and a revised paperback edition is due out this year.
A shorter version of this review originally appeared in Deadly Pleasures in 2017.