John Gardner specialized in taking over characters created by other writers. By presenting characters such as James Bond and Dr. Moriarty in his own way, Gardner added an extra dimension to his novels: The original characters remain in the reader’s mind, available for comparison with Gardner’s versions. Gardner also pioneered the practice of including comic elements in the standard mystery, effectively creating a new genre. His work shows great attention to historical detail and more than a touch of the occult. Gardner’s professionalism and ability to imitate other writers’ styles helped him, particularly in his James Bond novels. However, his own stylistic sense was better than that of Ian Fleming , so his stories read somewhat differently. Nevertheless, he retained Fleming’s readers and handed the series over to other writers after illness forced him to abandon it. His books have been translated into more than fourteen languages.
Broyard, Anatole. “James Bond Revised.” Review of Icebreaker, by John Gardner. New York Times, April 9, 1983, p. 1.17. Negative review of Gardner’s continuation of the Bond series. Finds Gardner’s prose awkward when compared with Fleming’s smooth style.
Bryant, Bobby. “James Bond 00-50: After Half a Century, Novels Are at a Crossroads.” Times Union, September 14, 2003, p. J4. This discussion of the James Bond novels after Ian Fleming’s death notes that the series was continued first by Kingsley Amis, then Gardner, and finally Raymond Benson (1997-2002). Gardner states that he feels the series should no longer be continued.
Hitz, Frederick P. The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. This work contrasts fictional espionage with that in the real world. Although it does not discuss Gardner’s work, it does discuss some of Fleming’s and sheds light on Gardner’s Bond novels.
Melton, Emily. Review of Bottled Spider, by John Gardner. Booklist 99, no. 2 (September 15, 2002): 209. Reviewer finds the first book in the Suzie Mountford series, which is about a serial killer, to be suspenseful and well paced and to provide a good sense of London in World War II.
Wright, David. Review of Troubled Midnight, by John Gardner. Booklist 102, no. 12 (February 15, 2006): 50. Review of the fourth entry in the Suzie Mountford series about the murders of an air-force colonel and his lover finds the work filled with period details. Compares the work to that of Helen MacInnes.