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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed cover art

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed

By: Mike Ripley,Lee Child - foreword
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
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Summary

An entertaining history of British thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed, in which award-winning crime writer Mike Ripley reveals that, though Britain may have lost an empire, her thrillers helped save the world. With a foreword by Lee Child.

When Ian Fleming dismissed his books in a 1956 letter to Raymond Chandler as 'straight pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety', he was being typically immodest. In three short years, his James Bond novels were already spearheading a boom in thriller fiction that would dominate the best-seller lists not just in Britain but internationally.

The decade following World War II had seen Britain lose an empire, demoted in terms of global power and status and economically crippled by debt; yet its fictional spies, secret agents, soldiers, sailors and even (occasionally) journalists were now saving the world on a regular basis, from Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean in the 1950s through Desmond Bagley, Dick Francis, Len Deighton and John Le Carré in the 1960s, to Frederick Forsyth and Jack Higgins in the 1970s.

Many have been labelled 'boys' books' written by men who probably never grew up, but, as award-winning writer and critic Mike Ripley recounts, the thrillers of this period provided thrills, adventure and escapism, usually in exotic settings, or, as today's leading thriller writer Lee Child puts it in his foreword, 'the thrill of immersion in a fast and gaudy world'.

In Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Ripley examines the rise of the thriller from the austere 1950s through the boom time of the Swinging '60s and early 1970s, examining some 150 British authors (plus a few notable South Africans). Drawing upon conversations with many of the authors mentioned in the audiobook, he shows how British writers, working very much in the shadow of World War II, came to dominate the field of adventure thrillers and the two types of spy story - spy fantasy (as epitomised by Ian Fleming's James Bond) and the more realistic spy fiction created by Deighton, Le Carré and Ted Allbeury, plus the many variations (and imitators) in between.

©2017 Mike Ripley (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"As gripping and well-researched as any of the thrillers he discusses, Mike Ripley's book also provides a fascinating social history of post-war Britain. A reminder of the relevance of this unfairly maligned genre. Check the room for bugs, settle down, and dive in." (Ian Rankin)
"Ripley produces funny lines as often as most people breathe." (The Times)

What listeners say about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed

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An Highly Entertaining Listen

For anyone who loves thrillers this is the bible to own. Well written, researched and narrated, it stands up to repeated listens and acts as a thorough guide to a much maligned period of popularity for the thriller

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Thrilled to Bits

As a baby boomer I am using my retirement to fill in the gaps left by a lifetime of browsing eclectically. This book is an excellent and detailed survey of authors, books and spinoff movies that I had read, heard of and many that were new to me. Along the way there were many "fancy that" moments as connections and background were filled in. As a result, I have set off discovering what I missed and revisiting old favourites. Great fun.
The only negative was that the appendices tended to repeat information found in the main text.