Sunday, May 27, 2018

GETTING CARTER; Brit Noir Fiction and Non-Fiction

Jack's Return Home, more popularly known as Get Carter by Ted Lewis is a classic noir commonly referred to as the book which birthed British noir. Getting Carter by Nick Triplow provides insight into the troubled authors life, from his early struggles at school to his rise in working on studio animation and, his eventual claim to fame - the film adaption of his debut novel starring the famous actor Michael Caine.

Getting Carter explores and exposes Ted Lewis' inner demons; the same ones which contributed to his eventual death are the same ones, one could argue, which contributed to his success (though short lived it was). 

It's a shame to see the work of Lewis years after his death get the recognition and appreciation it deserves. Genre peers are quoted throughout the book as referencing both Jack's Return Home and GBH as critical works in the crime sub genre. I, for one, really enjoyed the bleak and raw nature of Get Carter (review below) and have added both GBH and the prequel to Jack's Return Home, Jack Carter's Law to my read-list. 

This non-fiction look at the life of Ted Lewis, his rise and fall, and other pieces of work, of which he's less renowned for, is a must read for fans not only of Get Carter but for fans of noir in general. 

Book Review, Get Carter by Ted Lewis (published 2013 (first published 1970 as Jack's Return Home)):

Hard-man Jack Carter returns home to Doncaster following the unexpected death of his brother Frank. Straight away the scene doesn't seem on the level; firstly, the cause of death (Frank, drunk, allegedly drove his car of a cliff) doesn't fit given Frank hardly touched the hard stuff, secondly, Jack's bosses, the criminally inclined Les and Gerald don't want Jack putting noses out of joint down in Doncaster for fear of him endangering their criminal enterprise. 

What follows is a rampage of violence as Jack steadily draws lines through names of his former associates on the path to a kind of street justice. Sure, he can't reverse Frank's death but he can put a whole lot of hurt on those responsible.

Get Carter is the book which epitomizes British noir; the protagonist is a criminal (though we don't know what exactly he does for Les and Gerald) whose morals are questionable (he's sleeping with his boss's wife, prone to violence against women, and is happy to abuse the kindness of strangers), while the undercurrent of crime is exemplified by police corruption, prostitution, murder, assault, and under-aged pornography - all this circling the drain surrounding the death of Frank.

My rating: 4/5 stars. I enjoyed Get Carter and would've given the book 5 stars had it read as a second in a series; I felt like I was dropped into Jack's life without a lot of backstory surrounding his current employer or the seemingly meaningful relationships he has with people who crossed Frank.

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