Synopsis: Nick Triplow’s soulful biography of enigmatic British crime fiction pioneer, Ted Lewis (author of Get Carter), is one of those rare works of literary investigation that relentlessly asserts its own status as art. Like Philip Hoare’s Melville in The Whale or James Sallis’ Chester Himes: A Life, Triplow more than uncovers the forgotten godfather of the modern British crime story; he also spins a noir morality tale with a poetry all its own.
Mike Hodges’ 1971 cinema classic was based on a book called Jack’s Return Home, and many commentators agree contemporary British crime writing began with that novel. The influence of both book and film is strong to this day. Lewis never lived to realize his legacy.
Ted Lewis is one of the most important writers you've never heard of. Born in Manchester in 1940, he grew up in the tough environs of post-war Humberside, attending Hull College of Arts and Crafts before heading for London. His life described a cycle of obscurity to glamour and back to obscurity, followed by death at only 42. He sampled the bright temptations of sixties London while working in advertising, TV and films and he encountered excitement and danger in Soho drinking dens, rubbing shoulders with the “East End boys” in gangland haunts. He wrote for Z Cars and had some nine books published. Alas, unable to repeat the commercial success of Get Carter, Lewis’s life fell apart, his marriage ended, and he returned to Humberside and an all too early demise.
Getting Carter is a meticulously researched and riveting account of the career of a doomed genius. Long-time admirer Nick Triplow has fashioned a thorough, sympathetic, and unsparing narrative. Triplow is at once a cold case detective and a Boswell of the backstreets. Required reading for noirists, this book will enthral and move anyone who finds irresistible the old cocktail of rags to riches to rags.
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