Although adept at creating original characters, John Gardner devoted much of his career to mysteries that developed the characters of other detective writers. Ian Fleming’s James Bond ranks foremost among those that Gardner used for his own purposes. Bond plays the principal role in two of Gardner’s series, the first using the name Boysie Oakes and the second explicitly continuing the original Bond novels. Another character Gardner adopted is Dr. Moriarty, the greatest antagonist of Sherlock Holmes. Not all Gardner’s work, however, was variations on themes by other writers. He also wrote a number of espionage novels—one trilogy in particular earned wide recognition because of its detailed picture of life in England during World War II.
Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels appealed to audiences in the 1950’s in part because of their ruthless but suave and sophisticated hero. Although Fleming took Bond very seriously, certain elements of his stories readily lent themselves to parody. Gardner made apt use of these elements in his Boysie Oakes series, beginning with The Liquidator (1964).
The Boysie Oakes Series
In his first Boysie Oakes novel, Gardner paints an easily recognizable character. Oakes, also known as “L,” works as a professional killer for the Department of Special Security. Unlike most members of his profession, he fears violence and hires others to do his killing for him. As if this were not...
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