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Gardner, John 1926–2007

Gardner, John 1926–2007

(John Edmund Gardner)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born November 20, 1926, in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England; died of heart failure, August 3, 2007, in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Minister, critic, editor, novelist, and author. Many people, especially in younger generations, recognize Gardner as the author who reanimated Ian Fleming's Secret Agent 007, James Bond, in more than a dozen novels, beginning with Licence Renewed (1981). At that time, however, Gardner had already published more than twenty books and had established a solid reputation as a crime novelist. One of his earliest series characters was secret agent Boysie Oakes, the inept antithesis of Bond, who appeared in more than half a dozen parodies, beginning with The Liquidator in 1964. Oakes was so incompetent that he actually had to hire a subcontractor to carry out the killings assigned to him. Gardner also wrote a handful of Sherlock Holmes sequels, including The Revenge of Moriarty (1975). His other series characters included the agent Herbie Kruger, who appeared in novels that have been described as more or less ‘serious’ thrillers, and Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford, whose adventures during the 1940s were introduced in Bottled Spider (2002), and who will outlive her creator in posthumous releases. But it is the Bond sequels that readers are most likely to remember, though Gardner's version of the swashbuckling hero was somewhat tempered by political correctness. Gone were the Turkish cigarettes and the Bentley; the Bond of the nineties smoked low-tar cigarettes, drove a sensible, fuel-efficient Saab, and drank only in moderation. The novels were best sellers nonetheless, except among the most extreme Bond purists. Gardner himself led a more circumspect life than his fictional heroes. He was an ordained Anglican priest for a few years in the 1950s and a newspaper drama critic and editor after that. His early years are described in his sole autobiography which, interestingly, was published at the beginning of his writing career when he was in his thirties, rather than as an epilogue.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Gardner, John, Spin the Bottle: The Autobiography of an Alcoholic, Frederick Muller (London, England), 1963.

St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, August 20, 2007, section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, August 29, 2007, p. A17.

Times (London, England), August 9, 2007, p. 65.

Washington Post, August 9, 2007, p. B7.

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