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Bottled spider
Gardner, John, 1926-2007.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Sutton : Severn House, 2002.
Physical Description:
434 pages ; 23 cm
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Author Notes

John Gardner, one of the authors of the well-known James Bond stories, was born in Northumberland, England on November 20, 1926. He attended Cambridge University and was a member of the Royal Marines. He became a journalist and a critic after leaving the service.

In 1964, Gardner began his novelist career with The Liquidator, in which he created the character Boysie Oakes who inadvertently is mistaken to be a tough, pitiless man of action and is thereupon recruited into a British spy agency. In fact, Oakes was a devout coward who was terrified of violence, suffered from airsickness and was afraid of heights In the 1970's, he wrote a series of novels known as the Moriarty Journals, which brought back Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes' nemesis. In the 1980's, the holders of the James Bond copyright commissioned him to begin a new series with 007. The first Bond novel written by Gardner was "License Renewed", which was a success. From that point on, Gardner produced a new Bond novel every year, with the exception of 1985, until he retired from the series in 1996.

The Bond titles that followed include "For Special Services", "Icebreaker", "Role of Honour", "Nobody Lives Forever", "No Deals, Mr. Bond", "Scorpius", "Win, Lose, or Die", "Brokenclaw", "Death is Forever", "Seafire", and "Cold" (aka Cold Fall).

John Gardner took a break from writing that lasted for five years, following the death of his wife, but after battling his illness he returned to print in 2000 with a new novel, Day of Absolution. Gardner also began a series of books with a new character, Suzie Mountford, a 1930s police detective. The Crime Writers' Association short-listed The Liquidator, The Dancing Dodo, The Nostradamus Traitor, and The Garden of Weapons for their annual Gold Dagger award. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Golly Goldfinch, whose face is so deformed and horrifying that he always wears a mask, is commanded by a voice only he can hear to "Kill, Golly, kill." His hapless victims are young women, who are murdered in an unimaginably savage manner. But it's not until popular radio personality Jo Benton is killed that the police connect the series of murders. Assigned to the case is Detective Sergeant Suzie Mountford, who, despite her inexperience, has already been tagged for fast-track promotion. Her supervisor on the case is handsome, smart Detective Superintendent Thomas "Dandy Tom" Livermore. Suzie and Tom piece together the gruesome evidence, study the bloody crime scenes, and interview scores of the victims' families and friends but remain baffled. It's not until Golly's relentless killing spree strikes Suzie's own family that the two detectives get the break that cracks the case wide open. Best known as the author who continued the James Bond series after Ian Fleming's death, Gardner offers up a slightly less glamorous but no less entertaining thriller in this fast-paced, suspenseful, atmospheric whodunit. Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this first of a new historical series, prolific British veteran Gardner (License Renewed and 15 other James Bond novels; The Liquidator and seven other Boysie Oakes novels; etc.) offers two books in one: the first, a poignant and spellbinding memoir of London during the Blitz; the second, a routine and plodding police procedural. Despite seemingly insurmountable male opposition, Woman Police Constable Suzie Montford is promoted to detective sergeant when the military draft creates a shortage of male police officers. The serious-minded Suzie doesn't get much chance to prove herself professionally before being matched with DCS Tommy "Dandy Tom" Livermore. Tommy is "an anomaly, a rarity, seen only once in a generation: a gentleman detective." Oh my, someone call central casting at once. See if Bill and Myrna are still available. The two are faced with a series of murders of young women, including a popular BBC announcer, strangled with piano wire, the handiwork of Golly Goldfinch, a grotesquely ugly man-child who obeys voices that order him to kill. He may appear simpleminded, but he is a dangerous quarry. Unfortunately, Golly is more pathetic than frightening and never believable. The best parts of the book describe WWII London and are very fine indeed. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

First in a new series, this historical features a young, inexperienced policewoman in World War II-era London. She investigates a frightening serial murderer who has been strangling young women with piano wire. A promising work from a practiced hand. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



You could see your way by the silvery, shadowless moonlight across the bit of scrubby grass they called the Common. Less than a hundred yards long by fifty wide, the Common is bordered by two roads: one linking with the main London Road, the other, Church Street, petering off near the church of St Michael and All Angels. The vet's surgery stood next to Dr Bartholomew's grand seventeenth-century mansion in Henry Lane, the street that ran parallel to Church Street. It was hard to believe this was less than a hundred miles from the centre of London; less than a hundred miles, yet cows grazed on the far side of the church, and sheep littered the next meadow over by the watercress beds - part of Harricky Farm. In the sixteenth century Harricky had been Lord of the Manor and even in Victorian times many of the village houses demanded that on purchase you signed fealty to `Edmund Harricky, his heirs and successors'. But the line had dribbled out and come almost to nothing by 1892. Now, in the fourth decade of the twentieth century the manor house, three miles the other side of the village, was a hospital for officers, though old Miss Harricky still had rooms on the third floor. They now specialized in eye problems up at the Manor and you could see young men, the upper parts of their faces swathed in bandages, or wearing dark glasses, being led about by pretty nurses. `Lucky buggers,' the locals would say in the White Hart, `wouldn't mind being bandaged up by one of them girls.' `Could bandage me `til closing time - and after,' said Ted Gristwood, who still had an eye for the ladies though he was going on seventy-two come All Souls Day. `I'd do it all by feel.' And the lads laughed with him. The vet's surgery had whitewashed walls and a crimson door, black in the moonlight, like the Common and the strip of grass in front of the house: most things are black at night. Couldn't see a chink of light once the blackout frames and curtains were in place. There was plenty of light on the inside behind the crimson door. Light enough to perform a delicate operation in the dead of night. Inside, `the Surgeon' chuckled. `Slice carefully along the dotted line,' he said. It was a little joke he always used at this point in the operation as he drew the scalpel blade along the natural seam of the patient's scrotum. `The unkindest cut of all, this is.' He usually operated on animals - `Surgeon' was more of a nickname for he worked as assistant and nurse to Mr Wright the vet - but this time he was grateful to have a real patient, one who could share his amusement. The patient felt nothing, the area totally dead from the injection of veterinary anaesthetic, but he knew exactly what was going on: knew the procedure backwards because he had studied it in books before he took the plunge to punish himself and find the right doctor. Now, far away, as in a dream, he heard the ululating air-raid warning siren. `They're over again tonight,' he murmured. `Getting to be a habit, but don't worry. We've had it all the time since September. They fly directly over the village, or near enough. That's why they've got to sound the warning, though we haven't had a bomb anywhere near Overchurch. It'll be London again. They've got a moon for it as well, tonight. "Bomber's moon" I heard one of the lads from the aerodrome call it.' `The Surgeon' cut through the membrane, tied off the two arteries, then snipped off each testicle, allowing them to drop one at a time into the little kidney dish: a pair of tiny white spheres, like small packed rice balls slimed with blood: the quivers filled with unseen arrows; the engines of desire. It was all done in less than five minutes and now he sluiced the blood from the scrotum, pouring in antiseptic because the only real danger was post-operative sepsis. That and shock. There was a lot of blood, but this was always the case. The first time he had done it, on a dog, he had become alarmed, thought he had not tied off the arteries correctly, there was so much blood. He glanced at the patient who had closed his eyes. Some day, `the Surgeon' thought, some day people might understand, and the operation'll be done legally: properly, in a hospital operating theatre, not a hole and corner job like this one, done in the vet's surgery at night after hours, by an unqualified man. `You all right?' he asked. The patient opened his eyes for a moment. `Tired. Wretchedly tired.' He had what people called a cultured voice, an Oxford accent, though Oxford didn't have much to do with it. `You will be able to get me back to town?' the patient asked. `Don't worry. I've told you. I get a good ration of petrol. I'll get you right back to your door. Now, you sleep a bit. Okay?' Far away there were dull thuds as the bombs fell on London and the guns barked. Bloody hell, `the Surgeon' thought, if the Jerries get here, if they invade, they'll take his balls off for nothing. Wouldn't cost him a penny. Again he soaked the bloody sac with antiseptic and prayed there wouldn't be any infection. It was a relatively easy two hundred pounds. Who'd believe that a man would ask to be castrated? Normal people just wouldn't understand. Shit, he thought, it would be Guy Fawkes Night in a few days. They cut everything out when they topped Fawkes: hung, drawn and quartered. They didn't hang him to death; he was drawn and quartered while he still lived. The ground reverberated from the bombs forty-fifty miles away. He could feel the ripples through the soles of his feet as he started to sew up the empty scrotum. They wouldn't have the traditional Guy Fawkes fireworks this year - couldn't get them anyway - the Luftwaffe would provide the display. It would be just like any other night in this autumn of 1940. As he stitched, `the Surgeon' hummed, `Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run. Don't give the farmer his fun, fun, fun ...' Isn't it strange, the skein of coincidence? How could it be that this illegal operation would be unknowingly linked to Falcon Cottage, right up at the top end of the village where Henry Lane turns into the Keepsake - as they call it - across from the War Memorial. In Falcon Cottage that night they were sad because the husband and father was off to the war the next day. But here, in the vet's surgery ghosts of his deviations loitered through the patient's mind. It's best this way, the patient thought. It'll save the suffering and shame of others, and it'll be my just deserts. It's what I need. Much earlier that year, and many miles away, before a single bomber had ever sought out London, a man walked across a field near Stratford-upon-Avon, and brought horror with him. Excerpted from BOTTLED SPIDER by John Gardner Copyright © 2002 by Severn House Publishers Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.